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March 14, 2014     Heritage Florida Jewish News
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March 14, 2014
 

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PAGE 12A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, MARCH 14, 2014 Defying BDS, Weiss brings big-name performers to Israel By Josh Hasten JNS.org While Pink Floyd's Roger Waters has in recent years acted as a de facto frontman for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) move- ment, urging fellow artists against performing in Israel, Shuki Weiss Promotion and Production Ltd. for nearly 35 years has brought the biggest names in entertainment to the Jewish state for historic live shows. Musical guests attracted to Israel by the company have included Metallica, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Radiohead, Madonna, David Bowie, and Eric Ciapton. The trend con- tinues this summer, with Neil Young, Soundgarden, and the Pixies all signed by Weiss to perform in Tel Aviv, and The Rolling Stones tentatively booked by Weiss but still unconfirmed. "I'm not getting the mes- sage from the artists that they are feeling the pressure [from the BDS movement]. While that might have been true in the past, that's not the case today," Oren Arnon, the head promoter for Weiss's company, tells JNS.org. Weiss has also signed the international circus troupe Cirque du Soleil, which is bringing its "Quidam, performance to Tel Aviv this summer. Promoting and produc- ing live performances in Israel, in the dangerous and unstable neighborhood that is the Middle East, comes with significant financial risk, says Arnon. When the security situation becomes heated and artists decide to cancel their shows, "we lose millions [of dollars]," he says. That was the case during the Second Lebanon War in 2006, when the popular Brit- ish electronic music band Depeche Mode canceled their Israel show over concerns for their safety. (The band did make up for it by performing in Israel several years later.) Over the past several years, some artists have Why is this issue different from all other issues? It's The SPECIAL PASSOVER ISSUE April 11, 2014 Advertising Deadline: April 2, 2014 For Further Information Call 407-834-8787 canceled their planned Israel shows not due to security fears, but as a result of the pressure levied by members of the BDS movement. Yet Arnon says of what he calls the "many" artists who haven't backed out, "We've had many positive experi- ences with conscientious and intelligent artists who choose to come and see for themselves rather than cave to the propaganda." If Weiss can confirm the band's appearance, The Rolling Stones would be the biggest name to perform in Israel this summer. BDS groups have already taken to social media, calling on the Stones to boycott the Jewish state. Whether or not she di- rectly felt the BDS pres- sure, last year popular R&B singer Alicia Keys ignored the campaigns targeting her Israel performance and gag a'concert in Tel Aviv that Arnon says was simply "incredible." Arnon admits that BDS "in many ways can be seen as nonviolent and legitimate," but says art "is supposed to address issues that bother and disturb [people]." "What BDS is saying is 'just shut up--don't use your art for good or for bad,' which is something we [at Shuki Weiss Promotion and Production] have a hard time agreeing with," Arnon says. Arnon says Weiss's com- pany was behind the 2006 Is- rael concert by Roger Waters, .a massive show was moved from its original venue to the Neve Shalom "Oasis of Peace" village, where Ar- abs and Jews live together. The vision was to play at a location symbolizing hope and peace between the two peoples. It was only after the show was announced that Waters was introduced to the BDS movement, according to Arnon. But Waters chose to play in Israel anyway, and after performing there decided to become one of the BDS movement's big- gest supporters based on his firsthand experience of the country. Larry Philpot via Wikimedia Commons. )Veil Young, pictured here in concert, was attracted by promoter Shuki Weiss to perform in Israel this summer. "Whether you or I agree [with Waters's decision to support BDS] doesn't matter," Arnon says."I don't think I am trying to put words in any- one's mouth. I don't think it's legitimate to prevent people from educating themselves, and it's also not legitimate to shove one specific set of beliefs down an audience's throat. Everyone is entitled to obtain his or her own opinion, how they see fit." While Waters came away with one particular conclu- sion, many other artists who come to Israel see the coun- try in a positive light, says Arnon. He cites various co- existence projects musicians are exposed to when they visit Israel, including work done by an organization called "Heartbeat," which brings Jerusalem-area Jew- ish and Arab youths together to play music in order to "let go of the fear they might have of each other." "We've taken artists to see [Heartbeat's work] together and given artists the oppor- tunity to come and express their thoughts," Arnon says. "Israel is a democracy and artists can go on stage and say what they want to say. That's what the arts have been about the last few centuries." Arnon feels it would be best for both the Jewish and Arab public in Israel if artists would choose discus- sion over boycotts. While he says singers are entitled to boycott, he has a problem with those who say, "Don't go there and play for your fans, and don't engage with them." "Bottom line, come here and tour and see the facts," Arnon says, conveying his message to potential artists considering performances in Israel. "Our success is having an artist tour, understand the difficulties, and under- stand that bad things happen here similar to anywhere else in the world. We encourage them to come instead of not showing up." Manischewitz boxes feature well-known Jewish Americans NEWARK,.N.J.--In honor of Jewish American Heritage Month (JAHM) and just in time for Passover, Manisch- ewitz is releasing limited run packaging on each of its five matzo boxes inside 5-1b packages. The matzo boxes feature fun and factual infor- mation about notable Jewish American inventors, come- dians, historical figures, and more. These fun facts are sure to entertain and enlighten over breakfast or at the seder table. Some of the Jewish American figures featured include Ann Landers, Estee Lauder, Sandy Koufax, Irving Berlin, and the. inventors of the Barbie doll, Superman and Reddi-wip. Each of the five boxes offers a different story to tell. Matzo boxes also feature Passover in America: Histori- cal perspectives, a full-color compilation of 18 documents, letters, recipes, newspaper articles, and photographs from the rich collections of the Jacob Rader Marcus Cen- ter of the American Jewish Archives. The booklet will be available for a Contribution of $18 and is designed to en- hance and augment Passover Seders. The booklet includes Manischewitz coupons as well. Proceeds benefit JAHM, a month-long celebration in May that strives to raise the national consciousness on contributions Jewish Ameri- cans have made to America's heritage and history. "We think people will find the facts and stories surpris- ing and interesting. We are thrilled that our founding corporate sponsor, Manisch- ewitz, has chosen to partner with us to enlighten and educate consumers about the contributions of JewishAmer- icans," says Abby Schwartz, national coordinator ofJAHM. To learn more about JAHM and this year's theme, Ameri- can Jews and "Tikkun Olam: Healing the World, log onto www.jahm.us, an interactive clearinghouse for programs and activities across the coun- try. Visitors to the site have the opportunity to enter events in theirowncommunities, learn about national programming, download educational materi- als, and garner ideas for local celebrations. Jewish American Heritage Month (JAHM) is a national month of recognition of the more than 350-year history of Jewish contributions to American culture, celebrated in May. JAHM acknowledges the achievements of American Jews in fields ranging from sports and arts and entertain- ment to medicine, business, science, government, and military service.