The Rolling Stones, the iconic British rock band from the 1960s, announced plans on Tuesday to perform in Israel in June, confirming reports on the planned show from February. The announcement has sent opponents of Israel fuming.
As part of its upcoming European tour, the band will appear in Tel Aviv's Hayarkon Park on June 4, reports AFP.
While initial reports hinted the group was offered a record $4.5 million for the show, Haaretz reported that Israeli promoter Shuki Weiss eventually promised $6.7 million for the one-night performance. The amount is thought to be the largest ever offered to an artist to appear in Israel.
"This is an historic and very meaningful visit," stated Weiss. "In these days when we hear calls for boycotts from around the world, it's not taken for granted that a band of this magnitude will come to Israel."
Weiss reportedly has been trying to arrange an Israeli performance by the band since 1988. "The longest negotiation I ever conducted is coming to an end," commented the promoter.
A tour of Australia and New Zealand was postponed by the band last week after lead singer Mick Jagger's girlfriend L'Wren Scott committed suicide. Fellow band-member Keith Richards promised the group would soon be back on tour.
"Concert in Apartheid South Africa"
However, not everyone was excited about the upcoming performance. The same week that rumors first got out about the show in February, a social media movement was started on Facebook calling on the Rolling Stones to boycott Israel.
The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) committee, which works to delegitimize the Jewish state, urged the famous band to discriminate against Israel.
"Palestinian organisations urge the Rolling Stones to refrain from playing in apartheid Israel and not to condone Israel's violations of international law and human rights against the Palestinian people," stated Rafeef Ziadah of the BDS committee.
Ziadah claimed the band was "at the forefront of enforcing a cultural boycott of apartheid South Africa, but performing in Israel at this time is morally equivalent to performing in South Africa during the apartheid era."
The wrongful accusations of apartheid were disproved last September by Reverend Kenneth Meshoe, a member of the Parliament of South Africa and founder of the African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP). Meshoe argued "anyone who knows what apartheid really is and still makes such a claim [about Israel] should be told to their faces that they are lying."
The reverend noted in South Africa basic rights, such as voting, were denied on the basis of race, whereas Arab citizens enjoy full rights in Israel. "Apartheid was very painful," Meshoe recalls, "anyone who claims Israel is an apartheid state is actually minimizing the pain of apartheid."