American indie rockers Big Thief call off Israel shows in support for Palestine
Indie rockers Big Thief said Thursday they will not perform in Israel, in a show of support for the Palestinian people.
The US band, whose bassist is from Israel, was due to play two gigs in Tel Aviv, attracting criticism from pro-Palestine activists who have called for a cultural boycott of Israel over its oppression of Palestinians.
After initially defending their decision to perform in Israel, Big Thief announced on Instagram they have cancelled the July concerts and apologised for earlier statements.
"Since announcing these shows in Israel we have been in constant dialogue with friends, family, BDS supporters and allies, Palestinians, and Israeli citizens who are committed to the fight for justice for Palestinians. It has been the only thing on our minds and in our hearts," Big Thief said in a statement.
"We oppose the illegal occupation and the systematic oppression of the Palestinian people."
The band also responded to criticism of an earlier post defending their Israel shows, despite a campaign by supporters of the pro-Palestine Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement to have them cancelled.
Big Thief said in the statement that despite their belief that "music heals", the band now understand that playing in Israel would not help the Palestinian people.
"We now recognise that the shows we had booked do not honor that sentiment. We are sorry to those we hurt with the recklessness and naivete of our original statement on playing in Israel and hope those who were planning to attend the shows understand our choice to cancel them," the group said.
Big Thief performed in Israel in 2017 and were due to perform again in 2020 before the Covid pandemic forced them to cancel a world tour.
BDS supporters have campaigned for bands and other artists to boycott shows in Israel due to the country's occupation of the West Bank, the siege on Gaza, and apartheid-like policies against Palestinians.