Famous Israeli rock musician Shalom Hanoch is scheduled to perform his new album at the opening of the annual Israel Festival in Jerusalem on Thursday.
However, on Wednesday, a day before the beginning of he festival, Hanoch received notice that the directors had asked Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev (Likud) to speak before his appearance.
The musician quickly responded that he is not prepared to allow any political official to rise and speak on the same stage he plans to perform on.
"First of all, it's important to emphasize that in no way did I say that I meant not to show up," Hanoch told Yediot Ahronot on Wednesday.
"My audience is more important to me than anything else and if I promised to show up, of course, I won't cancel. But when I was approached about the Israel Festival concert, I was told nothing about speeches of political officials beforehand."
According to Hanoch, he did know that President Reuven Rivlin and Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat were expected to speak at the opening of the ceremony, before the start of his performance.
"That's fine, of course, by virtue of the event," Hanoch explained. "But I won't accept the fact that on my stage, on which I'll appear, a politician of any side or party will seek to use this platform to glorify his power or send his message."
"This is what, as an artist, I have never agreed to, and will not agree to even today," Hanoch asserted. "Therefore, if a politician will come on stage, I intend to speak my mind and give an appropriately strong response. I'm not going to boycott the audience coming to see me."
Hanoch's manager, Ofer, sought to emphasize that the musician's remarks were no directed specifically against Regev. "We have nothing personal against her. The response would be similar for any politician who wants to speak at the festival before the show."
Regev, though, was still surprised to hear of Hanoch's decisive opposition to her (or any politician's) presence.
"I received a request to speak at the Israel Festival and I acquiesced. If the organizers decide otherwise, I have no problem. I'm not looking to bother any artist. But if you already invited me, I don't think the artist should be given an opinion on the matter."