With less than two weeks to the Meteor Festival, the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel has chalked up a series of wins – and losses – with artists slated to perform there.
The festival is scheduled for September 6-8 on Kibbutz Lehavot Habashan in the North, with dozens of local and international acts making up three days of diverse music. While headliner Lana Del Rey has made clear she is determined to appear despite the pressure from boycott groups, not all of the artists feel the same. Despite the handful of cancellations, major acts like Pusha T, DJ Flying Lotus, Kamasi Washington and A$AP Ferg have not indicated any intention to pull out of the festival.
But a handful of other musicians have changed their minds in recent weeks, including some local groups.
On Sunday, the festival announced two new names for the lineup – British DJs Secretsundaze and Dan Shake.
Festival producer Eran Arieli, head of the Naranjah production company, said the new acts came to replace Shanti Celeste, DJ Python and DJ Seinfeld “who canceled due to BDS politics.”
Two local Arab musical groups, Zenobia and Khalas, that were part of the original announced lineup have indicated their intention to cancel.
Zenobia posted on Facebook earlier this month only the words: “Zenobia Metaor [sic] gig Cancelled.” Similarly, Khalas wrote on social media several weeks ago: “Dear Khalas family, this is to announce that we won’t be performing at Meteor fest, despite what has been advertised.”
None of the five musical acts responded to a request from comment from The Jerusalem Post.
DJ Python wrote on Twitter over the weekend that after “talking w friends and some well-informed folks” he will be withdrawing from the festival.
“Was gonna initially gonna go play and donate the money,” he wrote. “Would feel really phony to act like I’m super politically active/ informed, but I do think about what I feel is wrong or right and it feels like right thing to do is not go play.”
Liat Turgeman, a spokeswoman for Naranjah, told the Post on Monday that Khalas canceled a month ago over “technical reasons,” and that they had not received any cancellation request from Zenobia. She added that they have no reason to believe any other acts have canceled their participation in the festival.
“There are a lot of rumors going around but we haven’t received any cancellation notifications aside from the artists we mentioned,” Turgeman said Monday. “Production is proceeding as usual, we’re in contact with everyone we need to be and we don’t feel the need to check their status beyond that,” she added. “Everything is professional, there are contracts and agreements and until we receive a notification of cancellation we continue as usual.”
One group whose appearance is still in question is South African duo Black Motion. Last week, BDS South Africa announced that the group had canceled its appearance at the festival, which was reported in several local media outlets. Over the weekend, a report in the South African Jewish Report said the group does not support BDS, and had not issued a cancellation statement.
Multiple emails, Facebook messages and phone calls to the group from the Post over the past week have gone unanswered.
Turgeman said Monday that the Meteor Festival “is in touch with their agents and we haven’t received a cancellation message.”
On Friday, Naranjah founder Arieli took to Facebook to express his frustration at the pressure campaign targeting many of the artists.
“We built this event brick by brick by ourselves, asking or receiving no support, funds or benefits from any governmental or political entity,” Arieli wrote. “We’re pretty much the only festival in the world who’s 100% politics- free. We do not collaborate with any government or embassy and we are covering everything ourselves out of pocket money and bank loans.”
Arieli said he hopes the festival can lead to dialogue and understanding, “and failure to identify that opportunity is an exercise in perpetuating hopelessness on all sides. Our agenda is and has always been peace, coexistence, equality and our only aim is to bring people of all kinds together through the common love for music and art.” The festival producer ended his long message with the words: “Music heals, politics kills.”
Over the past month, the organized BDS movement has targeted the dozens of musical acts who were slated to participate in the Meteor Festival.
Across social media and in private communications, the boycott group has targeted most if not all of the musicians in the festival lineup.
“We urge all participating artists to respect Palestinians’ nonviolent resistance and withdraw from this complicit festival as a meaningful contribution to our struggle for freedom, justice and equality,” the group wrote in an open letter. “We appeal to artists who are scheduled to perform at Meteor to simply do no harm; to respect Palestinians’ nonviolent picket line and to not lend your name to art-washing Israel’s crimes against Palestinians.”