November 19, New York, NY – Demonstrators protesting the performance of Israeli musician Idan Raichel overflowed police barricades in front of Symphony Space Tuesday evening (PHOTOS). With creative signs, songs, poetry, dance and hip-hop performances, over 60 New Yorkers braved the sub-freezing temperatures to highlight the contradiction between Raichel’s self-image as a representative of a “tolerant, multi-ethnic Israel” and his role as a cultural ambassador for Israel and its brutal policies toward Palestinians.
Raichel’s image as a musician who crosses cultural boundaries has made him an important cultural ambassador for Israel in its rebranding campaign. Israeli Foreign Ministry official Andy David said of Raichel: “I think Idan is maybe the best ambassador that Israel has through his music and his inclusiveness.” Raichel has affirmed his role in drumming up support for the Israeli government, saying, “I believe that our role as artists is to enlist in the Israeli propaganda campaign [Hasbara].”
November 4, 2014, New York, NY - In a public letter, over 4000 individuals and 50 groups from around the world have called for the New York-based World Music Institute (WMI) to cancel their presentation of a concert by Israeli musician Idan Raichel on November 18 at New York City’s Symphony Space due to Raichel’s role as a cultural ambassador for Israel who provides “uncritical support for the Israeli military and government.” Raichel will be performing with the Malian musician Vieux Farka Touré.
Current signatories to the letter calling on WMI to drop Raichel include filmmaker and WMI honorary board member Mira Nair; the Grammy-nominated Haitian band Boukman Eksperyans, scheduled to perform with WMI in May; Egyptian writer and activist Ahdaf Soueif; musician Shubha Mudgal; writer and art critic Lucy Lippard; poet Ammiel Alcalay; actor David Clennon; the Palestinian hip hop group DAM; playwright Naomi Wallace; and groups from the US, India, South Africa, Latin America, Europe and the Middle East.
Please join Adalah-NY outside Symphony Space (Broadway and West 95th) on Tuesday, November 18 from 6:30-8pm for a demonstration against the concert of the Touré-Raichel Collective, which features premiere Israeli "cultural ambassador" Idan Raichel.
Tell the World Music Institute that presenting Idan Raichel is not in line with your values or theirs.
This letter was emailed to the World Music Institute on October 2, 2014. After WMI failed to respond it was made public here on October 9.
To the staff and board of the World Music Institute:
As organizations and individuals who support the struggle for justice, human rights, equality and democracy in the Middle East, we are contacting you because we do not feel that Idan Raichel’s presence on the Symphony Space stage (scheduled for November 18, 2014) for a concert presented by the World Music Institute is in keeping with our values or yours. Idan Raichel has publicly endorsed torture and explicitly describes his role as an artist in terms of uncritical support for the Israeli military and government. He wrote in the Jerusalem Post in June 2014 that “In creating this musical project we feel as if we are cultural ambassadors for Israel.” He added, “When I look back over the past few years, I see an Israel I am happy with.”