The festival's organizers claimed pro-Palestinians pressured the singer into joining the cultural ban on Israel. Wilson's performance was supposed to be the main attraction at the festival.
Director of the Holon Theater and Women's Festival, Guy Telem, said the cancelation caught him off guard. "We heard the news months after signing the contract and a day after Wilson was fully paid for her performance. Up until the payment we hadn't heard about any plan to cancel.
Cassandra Wilson joins ban against Israel
"When I talked to Wilson I told her that the cancelation would cause great disappointment to her fans in Israel and to the audience that had already bought tickets to the concert. She said that she identifies with the cultural ban on Israel because she's a human rights activist. I asked her why she only remembered this now and why she hadn't told us at the time the contract was signed. I couldn't get a straight answer."
Telem said that most of the tickets to the show had already been sold and now the organizers are contemplating taking legal measures.
"I can tell you that we have no intention of giving up," stressed Telem. "There was no time for anger during our conversation since it was a crisis management situation, and we only had a few hours before Cassandra was supposed to board the train to the airport… She sent me examples of emails she had received and I got the impression it was no more than a vociferous minority."
"I told her that in the past few years there has been an increase in visits by A-list artists to Israel, and as an example I mentioned Madonna was to open her international tour here and that Guns & Roses had announced they were coming. Everyone that's been here and those who plan to come here gave it their considered opinion.
"Aside from the fact that her decision is surprising, the issue has never come up and she's not a child but an active artist who chose to link herself to us contractually and has already received the full payment."
He continued to say: "We could have been sympathetic to her decision if the timing had been different, but the way they went about it makes you wonder about their business integrity. We'll handle it as professionally as possible. We have no intention of letting it slide."
Those who purchased tickets to Wilson's concert would be able to get a full refund or instead get tickets to the festival's other shows.