Lana Del Rey’s decision to perform at Israel’s Meteor Festival has once again given rise to the debate about whether you can separate a country’s politics from its cultural landscape.
The controversy surrounding Del Rey follows a number of prominent artists, such as Radiohead, facing significant pressure from activists who believe that the most effective way to end Israel’s military occupation of the west bank, east Jerusalem and Gaza is through the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. Del Rey herself cancelled a concern in 2014, during Operation Protective Edge, a military operation launched by Israel in the Gaza Strip.
As a regular reader of the Jewish and Israel press, and as a Jew myself, I am acutely aware of the place that BDS has in contemporary discussions about Israel and the occupation. Indeed, to see that Israel holds conferences on how to combat BDS and its recent decision to ban members of the BDS movement from entering Israel highlights how this Israeli government takes the “threat” of this non-violent movement incredibly seriously.
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Del Rey has justified her decision to play in Tel Aviv by arguing that it is not political and that “music is universal and should be used to bring us together”. Such saccharine comments seem to only draw out more starkly the fact that many Palestinians aren’t allowed to leave the west bank, let alone travel to Tel Aviv to hear multiple Summertime Sadness remixes. The reality is that everything in Israel-Palestine is political. At a time where the violence, segregation and tensions appear to be on an ever increasing incline, even music festivals will present opportunities for pop stars, politicians and everyday Israelis to decide which side of the occupation debate they fall on.
Ultimately cultural boycotts speak to the heart of what feels so contradictory about Israel in the first place: having famous musicians perform in Tel Aviv secures it as a western cultural centre, fitting of “the only democracy in the Middle East”. Yet the increasing success of Israeli and Palestinian activists set on exposing the darker reality of what Israel looks like today pokes clear holes in this narrative. Similar tactics were used to great effect during the Tel Aviv Pride Parade this past June, where Israeli and Palestinian activists blocked the parade route, protesting pinkwashing, the use of progressive LGBT policies in Israel to downplay other potential human rights violations towards Palestinians or minority groups living in Israel.
I grew up after the Oslo Accords - an agreement between the Israeli government and the Palestine Liberation Organisation. My first memory of the news was when I was five, hearing that former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzak Rabin had been assassinated. Consequently, my relationship with Israel has developed against a backdrop of the separation barrier, settlements and the open air prison that is Gaza. What has become abundantly clear is that Benjamin Netanyahu and his cronies have no interest in all people in this land living with equality and dignity.
I have spent the last seven years in Britain campaigning to end Jewish communal support for the occupation, and supporting Palestinian communities in the west bank and east Jerusalem. Cultural boycotts remain a controversial method through which to resist and challenge the violence and oppressive tactics of the Israeli government, but at least it grabs their attention.
Whilst it is easy to ignore millions of Palestinians who don’t have the power to vote you out, or dismiss Jewish Israeli activists as “leftist traitors”, high-profile campaigns against performers like Del Rey serve to propel the issues of occupation and the rise of ultra-nationalism in Israel into the spotlight.
Perhaps the intensified criticism and scrutiny will eventually force the hand of the Israeli government to consider a meaningful end to a 51-year occupation of another people.
Controversial? Certainly. Effective? It may be our only hope.
The Independent has launched its #FinalSay campaign to demand that voters are given a voice on the final Brexit deal.
Source : https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/lana-del-ray-gig-tel-aviv-israel-palestine-conflict-gaza-strip-a8499701.htmlThanks you for read my article Apolitical