When the iconic 1970s disco group Boney M rocked Ramallah this week, the local music festival prevented the band from performing one of its biggest hits.
Lead singer Maizie Williams said Palestinian concert organizers told her not to sing "Rivers of Babylon." The song's chorus quotes from the Book of Psalms, referring to the exiled Jewish people's yearning to return to the biblical land of Israel.
Palestinians often question the Jewish historical connection to the Holy Land. Organizers said they asked for the song to be skipped, deeming it "inappropriate."
"I don't know if it is a political thing or what, but they asked us not to do it and we were a bit disappointed that we could not do it because we know that everybody loves this song no matter what," she said.
The band performed its other big hits, like "Ma Baker," "Daddy Cool," and "Rasputin" in front of hundreds of screaming fans.
The Palestinian International Festival started Monday and runs through Saturday, bringing international performances to the West Bank cities of Ramallah, Jenin, Hebron and Bethlehem.
The concert comes amid a Palestinian campaign to get international artists to boycott Israel. The Pixies and Elvis Costello, among others, have canceled concerts in Israel following pressure from pro-Palestinian groups.
"I believe you should entertain wherever you are asked to entertain, whether it is Israel, whether it is Palestine, whether it is Lebanon, where ever it is, we go," Williams said in Ramallah.
"At the end of the day, politics is one thing and entertainment is another thing and when I got into the entertainment business I didn't get into it for politics. I got into it to make people happy," she said.