The Rolling Stones have recently announced a tour date that stops in Tel Aviv, Israel. This is the moment that Israeli fans have been waiting for decades, for Mick Jagger and the rest of the crew to perform live in their home country. There were many rumors before that the rolling stones were going to perform in Israel, but wasn’t confirmed only until a few weeks ago. Even before they announced that they would be performing in Israel, the BDS movement was alrady launching a campaign to convince the band to culturally boycott. This is a sweet as a defeat can be, an extremely popular rock’n’roll group deciding to send a clear message to BDS organizers – Israel is not an apartheid state.
Why do you ask is that the message that they are sending? The Rolling Stones are one of the few bands, such as Neil Young or Roger Waters from Pink Floyd, that have been politically active for decades through their music on hot issues such as the various wars, or bringing down the South African Apartheid (When I say few, I mean by few that have been global icons). In my opinion, it’s no coincidence that Neil Young and the Rolling Stones are now choosing to perform in Israel rather than wait any longer. Tickets were sold out in hours. In fact, there were a group of discounted tickets to see them perform in Tel Aviv which sold out in 27 seconds. That is how badly Israeli fans have been waiting to see this legendary rock group perform live.
While the BDS movement have picked up some steam in academically boycotting it through organizations such as the ASA and the MLA, the cultural boycott of Israel has ultimately failed. Sure, they can convince some small-time artists to cancel their gigs, but honestly it feels as if they do it just to grab attention in the headlines and make their name synonymous with the movement. Groups or artists such as Neil Young and the Rolling Stones are artists that don’t need the name recognition and research heavily into the “popular” political happenings, such as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. There is no doubt in my mind that they researched into BDS, and fact checked whatever they were able to find through their material AND decided to perform here anyway. That just proves that their demonization campaign of Israel through cultural boycott is failing.