Legendary Brazilian musician cancels concert in Israel over ‘sensitive moment’


RIO DE JANEIRO (JTA) — One of Brazil’s most acclaimed singers and songwriters has called off an upcoming show in Israel due to “apprehension” over the current conflict.

Gilberto Gil, a multiple Grammy and Latin Grammy Award winner, announced on Tuesday his decision to cancel his performance scheduled for July 4 in Ra’anana, home to the largest concentration of Brazilian immigrants in Israel.

“We are very sorry but after careful consideration with our artists and band we will not be able to perform in Israel this year. The general sentiment of all is one of apprehension as Israel is going through this sensitive moment,” Gil wrote.

Although he didn’t mention Gaza, the “sensitive moment” has been interpreted as a reference to the recent violent clashes along the border, where more than 100 Palestinians – many members of the terrorist group Hamas – were killed during seven weeks of riots. Supporters of the BDS, or Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement celebrated Gil’s decision.

The first news about the cancellation was published Monday in O Globo newspaper, one of Brazil’s most influential publications, which made a clear reference to Gaza.

“Because of this conflict in the Gaza Strip, Gilberto Gil canceled his concert in Israel on July 4. In 2015 Gil and Caetano were in the middle of a controversy. The pair refused Roger Waters’ call to boycott Israel. They went there but criticized the occupation of the Palestinian territories,” wrote columnist Anselmo Gois, who specializes in variety news and gossip.

The screenshot of the paper’s print version was widely shared in social media and surprised the 12,000-strong Brazilian community in Israel, many holding tickets for the concert. It took some 24 hours for the show producers to confirm the cancellation.

“We expect your understanding as this matter is also delicate for us. We love Israel and have always felt warmly welcomed. There will surely be other opportunities and we will be hoping for better times,” Gil’s statement also said.

According to the producers, the show tickets for the July 4 show will be fully refunded.

Gil, a 75-year-old singer, songwriter, guitarist and Brazil’s former culture minister, was last in Israel in 2015. Before that concert, he and fellow musician Caetano Veloso faced strong calls from the BDS movement to cancel.