Controversial Sam Smith Israel concert cancelled over ‘unforeseen problems’

Sam Smith

Sam Smith has had a festival appearance in Tel Aviv, Israel that attracted huge backlash cancelled.

The “Unholy” singer was set to perform as part of the two-day Summer in the City festival at HaYarkon Park in Tel Aviv, with the second day to be headlined by former Take That star Robbie Williams. 

The planned performance had courted controversy, with fans calling for Smith to cancel it over the Israeli government’s treatment of Palestine. 

However a large swathe of the festival has now been scrapped.

“Due to unforeseen technical and logistical problems, there will be no shows on the evening of May 31 (including Sam Smith’s),” the show’s production team said in a statement quoted by The Times of Israel

It has been reported Williams’ show on 1 June will go ahead as planned.

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Ghadir Shafie, the co-founder of the Palestinian Feminist Center for Gender and Sexual Freedoms, also known as Aswat, said in a letter to Smith that “despite [their] intentions”, performing in the country “helps prop up the false image of Israel as a modern, democratic society.

“It may sound benign, but it is what allows Israel to continue its wholesale theft of Palestinian life, land, and dignity.”

A hashtag titled ‘#SamDontGo’ also gained traction on social media.

Sam Smith has not publicly commented on the cancellation. 

In response to the gig being scrapped, the Palestine Solidarity Campaign said it was “thrilled” by the news Smith will not perform in “apartheid Israel”. 

A spokesperson for the group said: “This comes after thousands around the world called on Sam to respect the Palestinian picket line and cancel the gig. #SamDontGo

“In London, Sam Smith fans and PSC members leafleted outside their gig, calling on Sam to refuse to artwash Israel’s rampant attacks on Palestinian life.

“All artists must heed the Palestinian call and join the growing cultural boycott of Israel, while it continues its grave violations of Palestinian rights.”  

The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel said Palestinians “warmly welcome” the cancellation.

“Palestinians warmly welcome the news that @samsmith will not be performing in apartheid Israel, and avoiding artwashing or pinkwashing Israel’s oppression against Palestinians,” a spokesperson wrote on Twitter.

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