Last fall, Big Thief announced a world tour that kicked off at the end of January with performances in France. The string of shows, which comes after the release of their Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe In You album, was set to last until mid-June with a conclusion in Berlin, Germany. However, the band recently announced that they would extend their world tour with two performances in Tel Aviv, Israel. The shows were billed July 6-7, and together with the announcement, the BAND explained why they felt like it was important for them to perform in Israel, which is bassist Max Oleartchik’s hometown, but they were still hit with criticism.
“Over the last seven years we’ve traveled constantly around 3 of our members’ home country, the United States, meeting each other’s families and childhood friends and sharing in the joys and sorrows of a complicated, beautiful and tumultuous home,” they wrote. “We have grown so close. It is important for us to share our homes, families and friends with each other in order to gain a deeper understanding of one another and the people and places that have made us who we are. It is important for us to go where we have family to share space and play for them. It is foundational.”
They continued, “It is in that spirit that we made our decision to play in Israel. We are well aware of the cultural aspect of the BDS movement and the desperate reality of the Palestinian people. In terms of where we fit into the boycott, we don’t claim to know where the moral high ground lies and we want to remain open to other people’s perspectives and to love beyond disagreement.”
Big Thief concluded their message with the following:
We understand the inherently political nature of playing there as well as the implications. Our intention is not to diminish the values of those who support the boycott or to turn a blind eye to those suffering. We are striving to be in the spirit of learning. With this in heart, the show’s profits will be donated to NGOs that provide medical and humanitarian aid to Palestinian children, including joint efforts between Palestinians and Israelis working together for a better future.
You can view the band’s full message in the post above and read some responses from fans below.
— Olivia Katbi (@oliviakatbi) June 3, 2022
Big Thief is also a great nickname for Israel https://t.co/wRtREAdJgq
— alex birnel (@alexbirnel) June 3, 2022
Wow this is incredibly disappointing
— Erick ☭ (@madurobro69) June 4, 2022
How embarrassing for them to say they’re trying to learn and then have clearly learnt nothing
— hannah (@hannahkateboast) June 4, 2022
“We don’t claim to know where the moral high ground lies”
— buttho420 (@buttho42069) June 4, 2022
It’s one thing to play a show in Israel. It’s another thing to be like “we are well aware of the desperate reality of the Palestinian People” and then playing the show anyways bc “you don’t know where the moral high ground lies.” https://t.co/NNbLgcIltu
— General Chumpfuckery (@KurtCovonnegut) June 4, 2022
the cognitive dissonance required to claim it’s essential that you perform in israel because your family is there while palestinians are being illegally removed from their homes and barred from returning for 70 years is just too funny https://t.co/Ph9LSGHjj9
— jack (@jackpilled) June 4, 2022