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Big Thief Cancel Planned Shows In Israel
Christian Eede , June 9th, 2022 15:13

"We apologise to those we hurt with the recklessness and naivete of our original statement," the band have said

Big Thief have cancelled two shows that they were planning to play in Israel next month.

In a statement shared to social media today (June 9), the band apologised for "the recklessness and naivete" of a statement they shared last week defending their original decision to play the gigs in Tel Aviv. The band had faced backlash from both fans and supporters of the cultural boycott of Israel following the announcement of the shows, but said last week that "it is important for us to go where we have family to share space and play for them." Last week's statement was near-identical to one that the band issued in 2020.

In their latest statement following the cancellation of the two shows, the band said: "Our intent in wanting to play the shows in Tel Aviv, where Max [Oleartchik, bassist] was born, raised, and currently lives, stemmed from a simple belief that music can heal. We now recognise that the shows we had booked do not honour that sentiment."

The statement continued: "We oppose the illegal occupation and the systematic oppression of the Palestinian people." The band also apologised for not stating their position clearly enough in their original statement, and accepted that their previous claim that they were "well aware of the cultural aspects of the BDS boycott" was ultimately not true having now spoken "with friends, family, BDS supporters and allies, Palestinians, and Israeli citizens who are committed to the fight for justice for Palestinians."

Reacting to Big Thief's decision to cancel the shows, the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) said it "warmly welcome[s] this decision," adding: "We salute Big Thief's courage and their willingness to listen to the oppressed. We recognise, too, the clear position of a majority of the group's fans of principled support for BDS."

The organisation also condemned the Tel Aviv venue at which the shows were due to take place, Barby, for issuing a critical statement about the band following confirmation of the cancellation of the gigs.

The band previously played at Barby in 2017, and had been due to play there in 2020 – when they issued their first statement on the matter – before the COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of their plans.