Friday, June 07, 2013

Rock Stars Love Affair With Israel

Elton John

Why Rock Stars Love Israel - Liel Leibovitz

Israel is among the best places in the world for rock stars to visit.

During Justin Bieber's visit to the beach in Israel in the summer of 2011, Israel's security personnel saw that the perimeter had been breached and photographers and shrieking fans were moving in quickly. But the men trained in close-quarter combat in Gaza and Ramallah and southern Lebanon are never without contingency plans. Suddenly, an engine roared and a white scooter appeared from somewhere just by the waterline. Before the paparazzi could give chase, the scooter whisked away the boy wonder toward an undisclosed location.

For entertainers, Israel is seemingly engineered to provide performers with security. Elsewhere, the men entrusted with keeping fans and paparazzi at arm's length are hastily trained guards, maybe police. In Israel, they are veterans of the Israel Defense Forces' elite units. One security guard explains, "Everywhere they go, people try to grab them, touch them, kiss them. They need to be protected, and it's what we in Israel do best."   

Tair Kesler, an Israeli celebrity handler, has a different explanation for why artists love coming to Israel. In a nation like Israel, Kesler said, heavily burdened with existential concerns, a famous face is nice to see, but no reason to lose one's cool. "Here no one is screaming like they do abroad. It's much calmer here. We see these celebrities as people. We're less excited than other places; other places care a lot about celebrities, but here we have bigger things to worry about." This nonchalance is a major curiosity for stars.   


There's No Stopping This Song - Sigal Arbitman

When musicians come under attack by boycott groups and get cold feet about performing in Israel, Adam Shay, 37, a researcher at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, is there to encourage them. If an artist gets 600 emails saying that he's going to be killed if he performs in Israel, "he can do nothing but be frightened. Artists complain of massive attacks, to the point where their websites crash, before they perform in Israel."

"Unfortunately very few artists have the guts to get up and say, 'I got death threats, but I'm coming anyway.' Paul McCartney did it. He went to the media and said: 'I got explicit death threats, but I have no intention of surrendering. I refuse to cancel my performances in Israel.'...But most artists just don't want to deal with it. It's much easier for them to release a statement that they won't be appearing in Israel 'for reasons of conscience' rather than to say their lives are being threatened and they're frightened."

As a hard-core music fan, Shay also works to cancel the cancellations. He is full of stories about bands he succeeded in bringing to Israel despite the threats and attacks of BDS.
(Israel Hayom)

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