A famous Israeli rock band announced on Sunday that it would be cancelling an appearance by Israeli singer Ariel Zilber at its upcoming show, simply because of his political views.
Tislam, which was active in the late 1970s and early 1980s and is currently on a reunion tour marking 30 years since the release of its first album, said that it was uninviting Zilber from making a guest appearance in their show. The reason cited for the cancellation is Zilber’s support of a letter by rabbis disallowing the sale of lands to Arabs.
“We respect and appreciate Ariel Zilber as a singer and songwriter and we have no problem with his political views, even if we do not agree with them,” the band said in a statement. “We do, however, have a problem with his statements that do not reflect the values of our band.”
Zilber, who took part in last week’s memorial for the late Rabbi Binyamin Ze’ev Kahane and his wife Talya, said during his appearance there that he supports the rabbis’ ruling regarding selling land to Arabs.
The singer has been criticized for the past several years, ever since he began to identify with the residents of Yesha (Judea, Samaria, and Gaza). In 2005, he moved to the Gush Katif community of Elei Sinai in order to express solidarity with the Jewish residents there prior to their expulsion from their homes by the Israeli government.
Zilber himself was by unfazed by Tislam’s move and told Arutz Sheva’s daily journal on Monday that the band’s actions are nothing short of a publicity stunt. “Tislam is probably not selling tickets so they’re doing some advertising on my back,” he said. “After all, they knew my opinions before they invited me and now they’re saying I hurt them.”
He also rejected the suggested notion that he is racist. “Anyone can be a Jew,” he said. “This is not a question of racism, but today anyone who talks about love for Israel becomes an outcast and this hurts me because people fought and were killed for this country.”
According to Zilber, the Arab integration into social life in Israel leads many to carefully choose their words towards Arabs. “When I was young and living in a kibbutz, one girl married an Arab and wanted to live on the kibbutz, but the kibbutz did not allow it. Looking for a reason not to accept it they said that they would no longer be able to say the phrase ‘what is this, Arab labor?’ It is just an excuse. They did not accept it because the land of Israel belongs to the people of Israel. We need to love the people of Israel. If G-d loves the people of Israel why should we not love the people of Israel?”
He referred to the self confidence exhibited by leftist artists, be it whether they boycott him or the theater in Ariel. Zilber said that this happens because these artists “know who is financing them, so they express themselves this way. After all, for each performance they get a lot of money. Much of that money comes from international organizations like the EU and others so they know they can speak the way they do. Rightists, on the other hand, do not get paid for performances. They tell me: ‘there’s a demonstration, come and play,’ and when I ask how much they pay, they tell me: ‘we do not have money to pay,’ yet I still come and play.”
Meanwhile, the Shomron Regional Council called on Monday on all Israelis who love Zilber’s music to come out to his performances.
“In recognition of the singer who is not ashamed to express his views even if they are inconsistent with those of the rest of the leading Israeli artists, the Shomron Regional Council has decided to devote a special page on its website to advertise Ariel Zilber’s performances,” the council said in a statement. “We call on all Israelis who love Zilber’s songs and who dislike the phenomenon of boycotts to check the website for the dates of his appearances and come out. This is the best answer to the band Tislam who is attempting to sell a few more tickets while presenting the issue as a disagreement over ‘values’.”
The council added: “We praise Tislam for its loyalty to its ‘values’ and for joining other bands in the world that are boycotting Israel. We prefer the values of Ariel Zilber that express loyalty to Israel and to the heritage of our people, and not those values that encourage the establishment of an Iranian-funded terrorist entity in the interior of our land.”