UPDATE: On August 25, 2011, I received this email from Tuba Skinny’s Kiowa Wells, here is the email in its entirety:
The viewpoints of Tuba Skinny in regard to our recent cancellation at the Red Sea Jazz Festival have recently become a popular topic of debate among numerous websites and news forums. We did not want to comment on a situation that we as foreigners know so little about, but it seems that we now have no choice but to comment.
The reasons for our cancellation are numerous. First, when we agreed to play the festival we were not aware that it was largely state sponsored, or that people on the other side of the wall would be denied entry. This should suffice to demonstrate my meaning when I say that we do not have the comprehensive viewpoint necessary to make political commentary on such a serious matter. It is a fact that prior to our show, two days before we were scheduled to fly to Israel from Rome, we were approached by various people via E-mail who are affiliated with the BDS and AAA movements. After thoroughly researching what they told us in numerous emails, we were more enlightened on the current situation of the Wall, in addition to the extreme actions taken by the Israeli government against the Palestinian people. This was a shaking realization, especially because as a street band from New Orleans, we had not even heard the call to boycott, and never so much as considered the idea that playing music for people could be seen as a statement aligning us with any extremist group. Our intentions were to play on the street in Israel and the surrounding areas for the people, not for any government. It is a real regret to not play for Palestinian and Israeli people alike, especially because many of these people have expressed openly that they do not support the Wall, or the killing of innocent people carried out by either side. Our intentions at no time included playing in support of government sponsored atrocities or independent ones.
The day before our flight, after hours of stressful deliberation, we decided that we should not back out of our slated appearance for these reasons: Many people who live in Israel and wish for equal rights and peace had bought tickets to see us, and it was mere days before the show; the organizers, whose political stance has never been known to us, had worked very hard on our behalf; We were in Italy with no way home; and we viewed it as an opportunity to speak out against segregation and senseless killing. We thought to donate the proceeds from the festival to relief and human rights organizations involved in this crisis. After reaching this painful decision, we immediately learned of the killings outside of Eilat and the subsequent bombings in Gaza, both with the loss of innocent lives. This was the icing on the cake. We could not support any of these actions, let alone risk the obvious personal danger that was implied. It was for a mixture of these reasons that we decided to back out. Not only the Apartheid Wall, not only the attacks at Gaza, not only the attacks outside of Eilat, not only the endless violence for centuries, but all of it combined. Of course we do not support the merciless bulldozing of homes or the indiscriminate murder of Israeli and Palestinian people from both sides! With this in mind, I in my ignorance would never be so presumptuous as to approach an Israeli or Palestinian individualand start spouting off about my political opinion. To a mother who has lost her child. An Israeli mother, a Palestinian mother, it makes no difference. I cannot imagine what that would be like, though there are many alive today who can. We live in a country whose government is involved directly in this crisis, and many of the citizens here avoid talking about it because even here it often ends in heated debate or violence. Many of the citizens in the USA have never supported the government in this.
We have received pressure from many directions to make a statement. Here it is.
-Kiowa Wells on behalf of Tuba Skinny
Tuba Skinny was asked by the international group “Don’t Play Apartheid Israel,” as well as the Israeli group “Boycott From Within,” if they would cancel their Aug. 21 concert in Israel in honor of the PACBI’s call for a cultural boycott of Israel. This screen shot, taken today, shows they have indeed chosen to cancel their appearance at the Israeli Red Sea Jazz Festival.