Pet Shop Boys singer Neil Tennant defended his band’s decision to perform in Israel next week, joining singer Alicia Keys, who recently refused to cancel her July 4 Tel Aviv concert.
Both the Pet Shop Boys and Keys have been under pressure to cancel their Israeli dates.
A statement by Tennant was posted on the British duo’s official website June 16 following the release of a poster showing them wearing sunglasses stamped with the captions “1 child killed every three days” and “2 kids caged every day.”
Tennant wrote, “I don’t agree with this comparison of Israel to apartheid–era South Africa. It’s a caricature. Israel has (in my opinion) some crude and cruel policies based on defense; it also has universal suffrage and equality of rights for all its citizens both Jewish and Arab. In apartheid–era South Africa, artists could only play to segregated audiences; in Israel anyone who buys a ticket can attend a concert.”
The Pet Shop Boys will perform at Nokia Stadium in Tel Aviv on Sunday, June 23.
On May 31, Keys announced she would not cancel her Independence Day concert in Tel Aviv, despite personal appeals from writer Alice Walker and musician Roger Waters urging her to do so.
“I look forward to my first visit to Israel. Music is a universal language that is meant to unify audiences in peace and love, and that is the spirit of our show,” Keys told the New York Times.
Several well-known musicians including Elvis Costello and the Pixies have pulled out of gigs in Israel after urging from pro-Palestinian groups. Others, like Elton John and Rihanna, have not canceled their concerts. — jta