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The group’s success is hard to measure. Its website is packed with photos of internationally acclaimed artists performing in Israel and posing on the streets of Tel Aviv or at the Western Wall in Jerusalem. It also boasts testimonials and videos of artists that have visited Israel, from Dylan to Justin Bieber.
Still, it is not clear how many artists have been swayed by CCFP’s pro-Israel campaign, or what role CCFP or other activists played in ensuring that artists include Israel in their world tours.
David Siegel, Israel’s consul general in Los Angeles, has no doubts. “They are effective because they work from inside the industry,” he said. “They have gained a lot of resonance, and they are, essentially, the only organization focused on the cultural boycott.”
In terms of assets inside the entertainment community, groups on the other side of the battle can mainly deploy Waters, the former frontman for Pink Floyd. Waters not only supports the boycott, but has also taken it upon himself to reach out to fellow performing artists to convince them to scratch their Israel concert plans.
Last December, it was Waters who wrote to Wonder, calling on him to reconsider his performance at an event hosted by Friends of the Israel Defense Forces, in Los Angeles. Wonder canceled the planned gig. BDS supporters also took pride in convincing Costello to call off his performance in Tel Aviv.
But while the public battle has focused on artists already scheduled to perform in Israel, a music industry insider who has been involved in bringing top-of-the-line artists to Israel noted that the greater concern rests with those who have not yet scheduled their concert tours.
“It is difficult to bring artists to Israel as it is,” the industry executive said, noting the relatively small market Israel represents. “But politics makes it even more complicated. These people don’t like to get involved in it.”
Siegel, Israel’s top diplomat involved in reaching out to the entertainment industry, underscored this point. “We’re talking about artists that are used to having everyone love them, and now they are getting hate mail and petitions,” he said. “That’s why the best way to talk with them is from within the industry.”