One of the great rewards that comes with my work countering the cultural boycott campaign against Israel is getting to know artists and their representatives. Listening to their opinions; hearing their stories.
This story deserves to be shared. It’s set in 2002, in the midst of the second intifada, when artists were cancelling trips and concert dates in Israel. Most cancelled due to legitimate security concerns, while some bowed out due to political pressure.
Jazz musician Steven Hancoff, however, decided “to bring solace, support, and great music to people for whom terror has turned life into ongoing crisis and fear.”
This letter encapsulates one musician’s story and message.
In 2002, when the second intifada erupted … when people were being blown to pieces for no reason other than that they were Israeli … artists (including the Red Hot Chili Peppers) were cancelling their tours. That’s when I organized a ten-city concert tour throughout Israel (“Shai L’Yisrael”), including in S’derot where missiles were flying in from Gaza, and a benefit for rescue workers and the wounded at the Jerusalem Theater. I brought Andy Statman (and his trio) and Peter Himmelman with me. And at each concert, we featured an Israeli artist. It was an unforgettable, moving and inspiring experience for all of us.
To musicians: Don’t believe the vicious lies. When you play in Israel, the venue is full to the rafters of friendly and enthusiastic people. I am definitely planning to return soon.
I am not as renowned as many of the artists who appear on your website. But I have played in fifty countries (including in the Arab and Muslim world), and have released five CD projects and a four volume book. If possible, I would like to add my voice to those on your website. Thank you for doing this noble thing.
Hancoff raised the spirits of a nation with music. United Jewish Communities called it a “Gift to Israel.”
Upon his return, the Israeli Embassy held a reception hosted by then Ambassador Daniel Ayalon to thank him.
I do too.