Artists for Palestine UK statement.
Nick Cave has used the opportunity of a press conference in Israel to speak out about ‘silencing’. People around the world will be surprised to read that Cave has chosen not to speak out about the trial of the Palestinian poet Dareen Tatour or the targeting of journalist Makbula Nasser in Israel; nor the indefinite imprisonment without charge or trial of Palestinian artists, journalists and human rights defenders in the occupied West Bank; nor of the denial of permits for Palestinians musicians or of cancer patients seeking to exit Gaza.
Instead Nick Cave complains of having received a letter from fellow musician Brian Eno inviting Cave, in the aftermath of Israel’s deadly assault on Gaza in 2014, to join with other artists in signing an Artists’ Pledge for Palestine. This new initiative would enable artists to join together to make a collective protest against the apparent willingness of Western governments to allow Israel to prosecute its well-documented crimes against the Palestinian people without being held to account. Indeed to date more than 1280 British artists and producers have pledged to refuse professional invitations to appear in Israel until such time it respects international law and human rights conventions.
‘I don’t like lists’ he told the press conference, ‘There was something that stunk to me about that list.’ Cave was free to decline the invitation to add his name to the list of signatories – and he did. Palestinians don’t have a similar choice. Israel’s regime of domination is founded on lists, a system of IDs which control Palestinians’ residency status and freedom of movement. They ensure that a Palestinian with a pass for the occupied West Bank, or within Israel’s borders, or in occupied East Jerusalem, or in besieged Gaza, may not move from one enclave to another, nor congregate freely with other Palestinians. The system of IDs ensures that Palestinians are atomised and isolated, and dependent on their oppressor for their right of residence. The chances are that Nick Cave has no experience of being on such a list – a list that deprives a person of freedom and which silences them.
As an Australian, Cave must know that Israel is not unique in this regard – colonial and apartheid regimes have always divided and controlled indigenous peoples by means of the quiet violence of bureaucratic ‘lists’, backed by police and military force.
Cave: ‘No one wants to be publicly humiliated’
Nick Cave pretends that Artists for Palestine UK’s insistence on the restoration of Palestinian rights somehow infringes the rights of others. But what are we to make of a privileged artist who somehow contrives to turn the notion of a collective protest against the destruction of an entire people into a complaint that it is he that is being silenced? What are we to make of the fact that Cave makes such a statement, but does not care to mention the word ‘Palestinian’?
Artists for Palestine UK believes it is Palestinians who know the meaning of daily humiliation and silencing. We regret that in a land of injustice Nick Cave is giving comfort to the unjust.