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


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

Singer-songwriter Gilberto Gil, a multiple Grammy and Latin Grammy Award winner, announced Tuesday he had canceled a 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 of them members of the terrorist group Hamas – have been killed during seven weeks of protests. Supporters of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement, or BDS, celebrated Gil’s decision.

News of the cancellation was first published Monday in the O Globo newspaper, one of Brazil’s most influential publications. A screenshot of the paper’s print version was widely shared online and surprised the 12,000-strong Brazilian community in Israel, many of whom had tickets for the concert. It took some 24 hours for the show’s producers to confirm the cancellation. According to the producers, tickets for the show will be fully refunded.

“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 said.

Gil, a 75-year-old singer who is also 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.

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