“I feel a kind of soulfulness from the people of Israel,” Singer-Songwriter Suzanne Vega said. “There is always a warm electricity in the air.”
Vega, the American folk performer, internationally known since her 1987 hit singles “Luka” and “Tom’s Diner,” recently performed in Tel Aviv in support of her eighth studio album, “Tales from the Realm of the Queen of Pentacles” as well as with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, marking her fifth time performing in Israel.
“I’ve always been warmly embraced in Israel, from the release of my first album,” Vega told Creative Community for Peace (CCFP), an organization representing prominent members of the entertainment industry devoted to promoting the arts as a means to peace. “I came this time because I really wanted to play with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. I felt it was important for my growth as an artist.”
Vega faced substantial pressure on social media to cancel her June show from supporters of BDS movement, a political campaign seeking to isolate and delegitimize Israel by calling for a cultural boycott.
“I think the cultural boycott punishes people who make their living in the arts, both in Israel and [around the world],” Vega said. “If culture is the medium by which we have dialogue, boycotting cuts this off. It doesn’t add to it.”
Vega believes that a better approach is to perform in Israel and support organizations fostering dialogue in the region. “I think a group such as ‘A Crack In The Wall’ is a better idea,” Vega said, referring to the group whose aims is to create cracks in the proverbial walls separating the peoples of the region by enabling opportunities for dialogue. Vega believes music can be a vessel for such dialogue and understanding, and this comes through in her music. Vega has a song called “A Crack In the Wall” which she performed in Tel Aviv.
“I wanted to sing my song ‘Horizon’ in Israel,” Vega told CCFP, “as it’s a song about transcending your limitations and your conflicts through the ideal of love. I didn’t want to be bullied out of it.” The song was dedicated to and inspired by Vaclav Havel, the first president of the Czech Republic, who Vega got a chance to know before his death in 2011. Vega admired him for leading his country and its people to freedom in a peaceful way.
When asked about her connection to her audience in Israel, Vega said: “I make a distinction between the people and the politics,” she said. “How could I not? I come from America and believe me I have not always agreed with the policies of my own government. Yet I still choose to live there. These things must be worked through.”