LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Barbra Streisand has canceled a planned performance in Israel for an event marking the Jewish state’s 60th anniversary, citing personal obligations, her publicist said on Tuesday.
The 65-year-old superstar had been scheduled to appear next month at a celebration hosted by Israeli President Shimon Peres in Jerusalem, where she had been asked to perform a rendition of the Hebrew prayer Avinu Malkeinu, or “Our Father, Our King,” spokesman Dick Guttman said.
But she notified the Israeli government two weeks ago that she would not be able to attend after all due to unspecified personal obligations, he told Reuters.
“She celebrates as always the nation’s courage and purpose and flourishing democracy, and is saddened that she cannot be there to do so in person,” Guttman said in a statement, which described Streisand as “a devoted supporter of Israel since her earliest youth.”
The Israeli government confirmed that Streisand’s cancellation but gave no reason.
The Israeli newspaper Maariv quoted unidentified officials in Peres’ office as speculating that Streisand pulled out because U.S. President George W. Bush also plans to visit in conjunction with 60th anniversary celebrations.
Streisand, one of Hollywood’s leading Democratic activists and donors, has been a harsh, outspoken critic of the Bush administration. Guttman, however, denied that Bush was a factor in her canceled trip to Israel.
“That’s certainly not the reason,” he said. “Her affection for Israel certainly supersedes her disaffection for President Bush.”
Streisand, whose hit songs include “People” and “The Way We Were,” wrapped a European tour last summer, her first ever of the continent. Her 2006 North American tour grossed over $90 million, making her the No. 2 U.S. concert draw of the year after the Rolling Stones.
The 2006 outing was only the second national tour for Streisand in the four decades since she became the toast of Broadway, launched a Grammy-winning recording career and won her first Oscar in the 1968 musical “Funny Girl.”