The members of Israeli progressive metal band Orphaned Land are heading to Istanbul this week for the Unirock Open Air Festival, which will be held in the Turkish city from Friday to Sunday.
Orphaned Land takes pride in thousands of fans from Arab countries who flock to the festivals it participates in despite the band's Israeli identity, which is never kept a secret.
The organizers of the Istanbul festival reported recently that tickets for the band's performances had been purchased by citizens of Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and even Iran.
"We're not afraid," says lead vocalist Kobi Farhi. "We've already been in Turkey, and this time too, in spite of the deteriorating relations, we won’t take any bodyguard with us, unless the Israeli government really forces us to.
"We're always glad to return to Turkey, and not only are we not afraid – we feel at home there. There are people there who sing with us in Hebrew and we don't face any hostility.
"I guess metalists don't care about politics. The fact that thousands of fans from Arab countries will arrive to see an Israeli band in Istanbul is a message one cannot ignore, especially these days.
"We are proving and will continue to prove against and again that music can solve the problems politicians fail to handle. We'll do everything we can to return with experiences that will make every Israeli proud of us."
They already canceled one of your concerts after the Turkish flotilla. Don't you think it could happen again?
"I have no such fear. At the time it was a major festival with Metallica, and they were afraid that our performance would jeopardize the entire festival. This time we are definitely coming; we've already booked hotel rooms and rickets.
"We are not concerned by the political issues between the countries, and I don’t think there's a chance that such a cancelation will repeat itself. We definitely won't cancel and won't boycott the Turks."
These days, Orphaned Land is marking its 20th anniversary with a new DVD slated to be released in October, along with a documentary featuring interview with the band's fans in Arab countries.
This may sound unreal, but the band is also planning a concert tour in Egypt in the coming months.
"There is clearly a lot of uncertainty in Egypt, and after what happened on the border this isn't such a good timing," says Farhi. "But we conducted a survey on our Facebook page, which was answered by at least 500 Egyptian fans who asked us to come.
"There were also those who said we should be careful about coming to Egypt. We would really like to try it, even through some kind of underground performance."
Still with no bodyguards?
"To Egypt I think we'll take a bodyguard."
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