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(Wissam Nassar / Maan Images)

Moddi cancels Tel Aviv gig after appeal from Gaza

Norwegian musician Moddi has canceled a scheduled Tel Aviv show following a call from Palestinians in Gaza, echoed by solidarity activists.

In his powerful statement, Moddi explains that “Although music can be a unique arena for public debate, the debate over these territories has been misused for a long time. Discussion and dialogue creates an impression of constant progress.”

Meanwhile the “discourse of peace creates a thick veil, concealing the increasingly tighter besiegement of Gaza, the ongoing fragmentation of the West Bank and the continuing discrimination of Arab-Israeli citizens.”

Announcing he would be “going to Israel and to the West Bank to see things with my own eyes,” Moddi wrote “As long as ‘dialogue’ continues to be a goal in itself and not a means to solve one of the deepest, most intense conflicts of this time, I will not lend my voice to it.”

Moddi, whose full name is Pål Moddi Knutsen, is from the Norwegian island of Senja. The video above is for his song “House by the Sea,” from his album Set the House on Fire due to be released in March.

Moddi’s full statement, below, was posted on his Facebook page earlier today and his cancelation is reported by Norway’s national broadcaster NRK.

Moddi has become the latest in a long line of international artists to cancel performances in Israel following appeals from activists in the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement (BDS).

Moddi’s statement

I have chosen to cancel my performance in Tel Aviv on February 1st. This is without comparison the most difficult decision I have ever made as an artist, and one that hurts almost as much as it feels right.

The reason for my decision is the situation in Israel and the areas it controls. Although music can be a unique arena for public debate, the debate over these territories has been misused for a long time. Discussion and dialogue creates an impression of constant progress. The realities of politics are very different. An example: as we speak, John Kerry is negotiating peace talks between Israel and Palestine, while at the same time Israel announces the construction of 1400 new settlements on occupied land. While everyone speaks about a two-state solution, the constant scattering of the West Bank through the building of new control posts, security fences and walls are making such a solution practically impossible.

The discourse of peace creates a thick veil, concealing the increasingly tighter besiegement of Gaza, the ongoing fragmentation of the West Bank and the continuing discrimination of Arab-Israeli citizens. By encouraging ‘dialogue’ and ‘tolerance’ as ideals, I am afraid that my voice will do nothing but to increase the already dysfunctional divide between words and action in a conflict where no one seems to trust each other’s intentions.

I know that I disappoint many of my Israeli listeners and I am truthfully sorry that it has to stay like this for now. I believe that you will understand, although you might not agree. Again, I encourage you to read Jello Biafra’s article, which provides many perspectives and no clear answers to the questions he has been faced with. Like him, I am overwhelmed by the complexity of the situation. Therefore, I will be going to Israel and to the West Bank to see things with my own eyes, meet some of the people who have joined the discussion and try to understand the situation better.

As long as ‘dialogue’ continues to be a goal in itself and not a means to solve one of the deepest, most intense conflicts of this time, I will not lend my voice to it. For now I’ll keep away, hoping that things can change for the better and that one day I can carry through with my very first concert on an Israeli stage.

Comments

While it's good that this musician has cancelled his planned concert, his endorsement of Jello Biafra's writings about the "complexity" of Israel-Palestine, and the fact that he's gone on to plan a trip to Israel like Biafra did, show that despite his well-stated comments on the misuse of "dialogue," he'll still be contributing to the problem.