Lebanese rock band pull out of Chilis gig to boycott Israel

Published September 5th, 2012 - 11:22 GMT
Lebanese indie rock band Mashrou' Leila.
Lebanese indie rock band Mashrou' Leila.

Lebanese indie band Mashrou’ Leila have announced that they are backing out of plans to open for the Red Hot Chili Peppers at their Thursday evening Beirut concert.

“We will not be opening for the red hot chili peppers on september 6 in Beirut,” Mashrou’ Leila announced in a Tweet Tuesday evening, a message echoed on the band’s Facebook site.

The statement follows mounting pressure from fans and activists to pull out of the Beirut show to protest the Chili Peppers’ determination to play a Tel Aviv gig on Sept. 10.

Campaigners from the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement have for weeks appealed to the U.S. band to not perform in Israel, a scheduled date in the band’s world tour.

The Chili Peppers rejected these calls, publishing a YouTube video on June 28 expressing their “joy, pleasure and excitement at playing in Tel Aviv,” as well as their “great love for Israel.”

Two of the Chili Peppers’ 10 albums were recorded with Haifa-born guitarist Hillel Slovak, a founding member of the band who died of a heroin overdose in 1988.

In its coverage of Mashrou’ Leila’s announcement, the online magazine Electronic Intifada said that the BDS campaign has been premised on Palestinians not being free to attend concerts in Israel, dramatized in a video made to illustrate the near impossibility for Palestinians to attend a recent Madonna concert in Tel Aviv.

The Chili Peppers’ concert will be held in “Hayarkon Park,” the site of the former Palestinian village of Jarisha, the magazine said.

Following the Chili Peppers’ refusal to heed calls for a boycott, activists turned their attention to Mashrou’ Leila, launching a campaign to “boycott those who refuse to boycott.”

The Lebanese band’s Facebook and Twitter sites have been inundated with pleas to cancel their collaboration with the Chili Peppers.

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