American folk singer Devendra Banhart has canceled his scheduled concerts in Israel at the last minute, joining an ever increasing list of foreign artists being pressured by pro-Palestinian groups. According to Israeli producers, the singer's representatives said the cancellation stems from political reasons and enormous pressure exerted on them.
The singer explained the decision in a message posted on his official website: "We love the land and people of Israel, and have been looking forward to our third show there with unimaginable anticipation. Unfortunately, we tried to make it clear that we were coming to share a human and not a political message but it seems that we are being used to support views that are not our own.
"We will be overjoyed to return to Israel on the day that our presence is perceived and reported on as a cultural event and not a political one. We truly hope that day comes soon."
Banhart, who performed in Israel four years ago to great success, was due to arrive in the country on Tuesday and hold concerts at the Barby club in Tel Aviv on Wednesday and Thursday.
He decided to cancel his concert dates in Tel Aviv, despite promising not to succumb to political pressure and keep his commitments during an interview with Ynet in the wake of the Navy's raid on the Gaza-bound flotilla.
The American singer noted that what he does is beyond the realm of politics and that his purpose is to perform to people who love music, regardless of current events. He added that he loves Israelis and Israel itself.
Banhart. Promised not to cancel
Banhart previously dated Israeli-American actress Natalie Portman.
He joins a long list of artists who have decided to cancel their shows in Israel for political reasons including Carlos Santana, Gil Scott-Heron, Elvis Costello, the Klaxons, Gorillaz Sound System and the Pixies.
The concert's producers Shachaf Schwartz and Srulik Einhorn issued a statement in response which read, "We are extremely disappointed with the cancellation and surprised with the timing, particularly since all along the artist and his managers stressed that a cancellation was not an option."
Instead of Banhart's performance Israeli singer Geva Alon, who was scheduled to open the folk singer's shows, has decided to hold a free concert at the Barby for the disappointed fans.