The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

Marcel Khalife banned from playing in San Diego?

Update: This story appears confirmed from a press release by Khalife's publicist.

Reports are emerging that the great oud player and composer Marcel Khalifé (a UNESCO "Artist for Peace" was barred from giving a scheduled performance in San Diego because the venue felt he should be "balanced out" with an Israeli musician:
Khalifé has a sizable number of North American tour dates ahead of him over the next few months at places like the Kennedy Center and Boston's Berklee College of Music's Performance Hall. In other words, Khalifé ain't no dimestore oud player, and venues who regularly host Lebanese classical music ought to be honored by his interest.

That's not the case for San Diego's Joan B. Kroc Theatre at the Salvation Army's Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center, who have forced Khalifé to look elsewhere for a place to play in the area. It's not so much that the Kroc Theatre folks don't like the cut of Khalifé's jib: rather, they feel the show would be "divisive" and "unbalanced" without an Israeli performer taking the stage the same night, according to a press release issued by Khalifé's camp.
This sounds so incredibly stupid I have a hard time believing it's true, but considering these kind of tactics are used by pro-Israel activists routinely against academics, who knows...

Update: Once again, unbelievably it appears to be true.