Artists appeal to the Chemical Brothers: Please don’t play Tel Aviv

  • Haaretz: ‘Former Pink Floyd bassist signs an open letter telling the electronic duo to not be fooled by Tel Aviv’s cool vibe while a different petition accuses artists who perform in Israel of whitewashing apartheid.’ (November 5, 2016)
    Report in the Guardian: ‘Former Pink Floyd man joins campaign alongside Caryl Churchill and Maxine Peake seeking a cultural boycott to promote better treatment of Palestinians’ (November 2, 2016)
  • Report in Pitchfork:  ‘Roger Waters, Thousands More Petition the Chemical Brothers to Cancel Tel Aviv Show’; and here in NME magazine and MixMag (November 1, 2016)
  • In an interview with Israeli media Chemical Brothers deny they are asked to boycott Israel despite over 7,000 people asking them to do just that. They are quoted as saying ‘pressure was not applied to us. We will go to any place where young people want to see us playing. We are not really involved in all the rest’. Needless to say, if the controversial concert goes ahead, fans in the occupied Palestinian territories will not be able to reach it due to ‘all the rest’. (October 29, 2016).
  • More than 7,000 people sign a petition asking Chemical Brothers Ed and Tom not to play Tel Aviv! (October 28, 2016)


London, 18 October 2016

Dear Ed Simons and Tom Rowlands,

We’re wondering why the Chemical Brothers, so formidably progressive in the London and Manchester DJ scenes, seem about to let down our great cities’ record of radicalism.

Your recording company, Virgin EMI, may tell you that playing Tel Aviv on November 12 is a cool thing to do.

But Tel Aviv’s hipster vibe is a bubble on the surface of a very deep security state that drove out half the indigenous Palestinian population in 1948 and has no intention of letting their descendants back in.

If you do play Tel Aviv, it’s entirely likely you won’t be taken to visit the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University.   But you could, right now, look up the July 2016 edition of its publication, Military and Strategic Affairs, and read Israel Defence Force Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot musing on ‘The Challenges Facing the Israel Defence Forces’.

Does he at any point convey the slightest hint that the Israeli army is preparing to withdraw its illegal military occupation from Palestinian territory, as the entire international community (and any possibility of a peace settlement) require?   He does not.   He says, ‘There are 161 communities [he means Israeli settler communities] in Judea and Samaria [what the rest of the world calls the Occupied West Bank], inhabited by 400,000 Israelis who live among approximately two million Palestinians…   The IDF’s duty is to provide security, so that the inhabitants of Judea and Samaria [he means the Jewish inhabitants, the settlers] are secure and feel a sense of security.’

The Chemical Brothers move around the world in complete freedom, but the price of the settlers’ ‘sense of security’ in occupied territory is enormous for Palestinian artists and their communities.   Their freedom of movement is stymied at every turn – vast military checkpoints; roads to towns and villages deliberately blocked; land stolen in the name of ‘security’; and so on.   If you want to get a sense of what that suffocation feels like, you could splash out £8 and watch the Oscar-shortlisted and Emmy Award winner ‘5 Broken Cameras’, by Palestinian Emad Burnat and Israeli Guy Davidi (the trailer is here).

If you go to Tel Aviv, your presence will be used by the Israeli authorities to reassure their citizens that all’s right with the world and nobody really cares that the Palestinians are suffering.   You could step back from this.   Last month, Brian Eno told the Israeli dance company, Batsheva, who were using his music in an Israeli embassy-sponsored event in Turin, that while they might not be able to distance themselves from the Israeli government, he could, and he would.   You have the power to make the same choice.   Please don’t go.

Yours sincerely,

Caryl Churchill, playwright

Liz Lochhead, playwright, National Poet of Scotland 2011-16

JD Meatyard, musician

Jenny Morgan, film-maker

Maxine Peake, actor

Miranda Pennell, film-maker

Kareem Samara, musician

Sigmatron, DJ

Farhana Sheikh, writer

Roger Waters, musician

Hilary Westlake, theatre director

W: / FB: / T: @ArtistsforPalestineUK

23 thoughts on “Artists appeal to the Chemical Brothers: Please don’t play Tel Aviv

  1. Falk-Uncensored says:

    Unbelievable the amount of lies you spew.
    Your statement of the facts is wrong.
    Your numbers are wrong
    And you do nothing to explain why the Palestinians refuse to negotiate an end to the stalemate and begin suing for peace.


    • Hatem Qamhieh says:

      Palestinian did everything they can do for peace. Israel keep building settlements, confiscat land from Palestinian, prison honest people without any charges, deport people, destroy houses, factories, farm’s…. And refused to defin it’s borders till this day!!!!


  2. Michelle Obama says:

    “artists,” what a joke. besides roger waters, the rest of you actively practice your art, but none of you have cultivated a successful career in music, film, writing, or painting. You should also get your facts straight, and understand who controls the Palestinian government. The people of Palestine, and the people of Israel want peace, it’s the governments that bomb, and retaliate.


  3. gas says:

    off you go lads, have a good one. don’t worry about the dead kids, innocents and subjection of the palestinian people. sun city all over again. shame on you. shame on mr uncensored. humanity should always come second to a fast buck for superstar dj’s.



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