Legendary Brazilian musician Gilberto Gil cancelled his performance in Tel Aviv, Israel scheduled for July 4 citing a “general sentiment of apprehension.”
In a letter addressed to the concert’s producers Gil explained “the general sentiment of all is one of apprehension as Israel is going through this sensitive moment.”
Gil has won multiple Grammy and Latin Grammy Awards, has served as Brazil’s minister of culture and is regarded as one of Latin America’s most prominent musicians.
Although he didn’t mention Gaza or the Great March of Return, the “sensitive moment” has been interpreted as a reference to the over 100 Palestinians killed by Israeli occupation forces during protests between March 30 and May 15.
Among the victims are 12 children, and two journalists. Human rights organizations have denounced what they call Israel’s shoot-to-kill-or-maim policy that has resulted in over 10,000 wounded.
The letter also said Gil and his band "love" Israel and they trust there will be "more opportunities to perform there, in better times."
Despite the lack of references to Israeli crimes or the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement and Palestinian activists have celebrated Gil’s decision.
Hind Awwad, representative of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, said “we warmly welcome Gilberto Gil’s cancellation of his concert in Tel Aviv, the center of Israel’s regime of occupation and apartheid. We thank Gil’s fans in Brazil and across Latin America whose outrage over Israel’s latest massacre in Gaza and support for Palestinian human rights seem to have played a decisive role in his decision.”
In the statement Awwad also referred to an earlier appeal to Gil asking him not to play in Tel Aviv in 2015. In that occasion Gil and Caetano Veloso defied international appeals to refrain from “art-washing” Israeli occupation and apartheid regime.
Veloso returned vowing to never play in Israel again.
Last week the director of Portugal’s national theater, Tiago Rodrigues, cancelled participation in the Israel Festival in Jerusalem and endorsed the BDS movement, while 80 French artists, including acclaimed director Jean-Luc Godard, announced they would not participate in the France-Israel Season organized to celebrate Israel’s “independence.”
In April, Israeli actress Natalie Portman refused to participate in the Genesis Prize Foundation ceremony citing “recent events in Israel.”
Palestinians organized protests to demand Israel recognize their right as refugees to return to the villages and towns from where they fled or were expelled during and after the creation of the state of Israel in 1948, a right Israel has denied them in favor of protecting its Jewish demographic majority.