Figured into the ticket prices are high security and insurance costs covered by Israeli promoters, which are estimated by Lloyd's of London at anywhere from $50,000 to $200,000 for events attended by more than 20,000 people.
In Del Rey's case, inexperienced promoters did not prepare her for the backlash, says Bluestone's Guy Beser. Del Rey was one of at least 20 artists to cancel scheduled appearances at Meteor last year, says Alia Malak of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, which is part of BDS.
"Art is an expression of society and cannot be separated from politics," said Malak in a statement to Billboard. "The Israeli government proves this point by using international shows to prop up its failing image and to distract from its oppression of Palestinians."
Though the number of shows at Tel Aviv's largest venues has increased modestly during the past decade, according to Billboard Boxscore, artists' public cancellations have been damaging to Israel's efforts to promote the country as a global touring destination. The BDS issue has become so serious that the nation's Ministry of Strategic Affairs has gotten involved. In June, it launched a public service announcement against BDS "lies and hypocrisy."
Beser, who runs Bluestone with partner Shay Mor Yosef, travels extensively to make Israel's case, meeting with music executives and explaining the complicated reality of life in Israel.
"There are those who fall for [BDS'] traps," says Beser. "Our war against them is daily." Israeli promoters like Beser aren't shy about discussing boycotts when negotiating with artist managers, only announcing shows after a comprehensive plan is in place. "We make sure they know right off the bat that those reactions are bound to surface," says promoter Shuki Weiss. "We don't sweep these issues under the rug."
Live Nation, which owns Maverick and acquired a majority stake in Bluestone in 2017, has been dominating the Israeli concert scene in recent years. Maverick artists Pitbull and Ricky Martin performed in Israel prior to the deal, and Aerosmith and Britney Spears played in the summer of 2017. (Live Nation declined to comment.)
BDS can be quick to claim responsibility for cancellations it didn't cause. It took credit for the 2012 cancellation by The Cardigans and for Natalie Imbruglia's in 2017. (Both were scrapped due to low ticket sales.) BDS also claimed it had pressured Ed Sheeran to boycott Israel in November 2018, but no show had been discussed, and Stuart Camp, Sheeran's manager, tweeted that rumors to the contrary were "completely false."