Leading writers respond to Nick Cave

Israel’s officials wasted no time in reciprocating Nick Cave’s declaration of love for Israel, made at his recent press conference there. Today, leading writers have responded to the musician and author’s claims about the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.  These statements, published below, follow responses from artists including Brian Eno and Roger Waters. 

Caryl Churchill

“The Israeli government has an overt policy of using the arts to distract from its repressive policies. Does Nick Cave really want to be exploited in this way?”


AL Kennedy

“In the light of Nick Cave’s concerts in Israel I would say that any such engagement is morally perilous. Many Israelis and many of us abroad – of all faiths – are deeply concerned by the actions – political, social and military – of Benjamin Netanyahu, Likud and forces which seem intent on destroying the entire existence of Palestine and the Palestinian people, while corrupting Israeli public life. This ongoing effort has produced a catalogue of crimes and conducting business as usual would not seem to be any kind of answer. In the face of multiple efforts to silence the Palestinian people and to suppress protest on their behalf Mr Cave’s reference to silencing dissent seems, at the very least, naive.”


Yann Martel

“If Nick Cave cares to take ‘a principled stand against anyone who tries to censor and silence musicians,’ perhaps he should take up the cause of Palestinian musicians (in fact, why not the entire Palestinian people) who are censored and silenced, besides impoverished and humiliated, if not outright done violence to, on a daily basis by the Israeli military-settlement complex? BDS is not about censorship (and even less about antisemitism). It is instead ‘a principled stand’ against a festering oppression that is ruining the lives of countless Palestinians and Israelis.”


Hisham Matar 

“Notwithstanding the arrogant manner in which he is conducting himself, I like to think that Nick Cave’s intentions are not malicious, that regardless of the deeply erroneous logic of his position—framing his desire to perform in Israel as an act for freedom when the state of Israel is, and more than ever before, systematically restricting the rights of Palestinians—I nonetheless like to assume that Nick Cave’s actions and words are simply based on a misreading of the facts rather than calculated ill will. It is in this spirit that I would like to ask him to reconsider his position. I sincerely hope that he will see this as an opportunity to engage this urgent and serious issue—where Palestine is facing the threat of complete erasure—and that he will do so with deep insight, gentle patience and a committed compassion. I wish him to be informed not by what people say, but by the facts, for the stakes are too high for him to be serving, intentionally or otherwise, the will of the strong over the weak. I ask him to love and place justice above all other considerations. And I wish him in this clarity, strength and humility.”


Andrew O’Hagan

“Who would have thought it, that Nick Cave would allow himself to ease the conscience of a major oppressor? No-one is ‘trying to silence artists’, it is children who are being silenced, it is a whole people that is being denied its right to exist, and it is common decency, not artistic freedom, that is at stake in Israel’s ongoing aggression towards the Palestinians. Nick has his eyes closed. Fighting for common decency is a matter of solidarity — of maintaining a vision of what is right, in the face of overwhelming powers — and he has, by his vanity, broken a picket-line.”


John Pilger

“I am sorry Nick Cave has got this so very wrong. In falling for Israeli propaganda about BDS and inverting the moral issue of freedom for Palestine — which Nelson Mandela described as ‘the greatest moral issue of our time’ — he gives comfort to no principle, only the enduring wickedness of oppressors.”


Image: stencilled graffiti showing Ghassan Khanafani (1936-1972), Palestinian novelist.

5 thoughts on “Leading writers respond to Nick Cave

  1. Frank Hoeger says:

    I am glad that I found this blog, actually ther is a camapaign here in Germany where the public press tries to label Roger Waters and Brian Eno as Anti-Semits and try to discredit their cultural work and free opinion for a free Palestine.
    I am quite shocked, how an official propaganda machinery acts in a so called “free country”, it was common in the last decades, that everything that is said officially against the current israelic politics is automatically transformed in the accuse to be Anti-Semitic. These cases usually cause public organiized shitstorms from so called “free press” and “free media”.
    I am over 50 and I know,that Brian and Roger are serious artists, that allways give and gave important political impulses to the contemporary music and society … and we olders rememember too, how Apartheid looks like..and we remember when we meet it again:
    we recognize Déjá-Vùs……..


    • Zoé says:

      Guten Tag Frank!

      My mum’s from Berlin & lived through Hitler (barely lived through… born early 1920s); so she is pro-Palestinian (married my dad a Lebanese American…lol) as she recognised the many similarities between the Nazi State & Israeli State.

      Only child – so nobody fought in the war or joined the party. Her aunt was murdered in the T4 program (euthanasia murder) & her Jewish uncle (by marriage to her aunt) possibly murdered by the SS in 38. (Editor of a trade paper in Berlin). I am still doing the research for these two -as they are both listed as died of ‘natural causes’. “Pneumonia” of course for my mum’s Tante/ Oma’s Schwester; but that was a lie because nobody gets pneumonia & dies from it in one day! (She had a disability). I want to buy stumble stones for both. God willing! Insha’Allah! Also I am looking for his wife/ my Oma’s other sister/ Mutti’s other aunt (of several) who “went missing under the bombs.”
      It makes me mad when people say it’s a long time ago – when I am still sorting this for them – & unexploded ordinance (bombs) are still found & killing accidentally workers in Germany.

      A lot of Holocaust survivors notice the similarities also. Or the children of survivors – like Norman Finkelstein (American author etc. – critic of Israeli occupation & human rights violations etc.).

      I am constantly speaking out against antisemitism; I probably find myself having to do this even more than getting to talk to people about Palestinian issues. Because in the States I run into people who are pro-Palestinian – but NOT Palestinian or Lebanese/ Syrian/ Arab – who talk to me & are anti-semitic & mistakenly think we think alike. I tell them they are hurting us vs helping us!

      They then get angry & think I am naive & uninformed; despite my family’s ancestral home was occupied in South Lebanon & they are not even Syro-Lebanese or Palestinian or Arab etc.

      It really saddens me. They always say “Jew/Jewish” vs referring to those specific actions of the Israeli Govt. which are harmful. I tell them there are indigenous Oriental/Syrian Jews & Ethiopian Jews etc. also; but they don’t care that they are hurting us. They’re conspiracy theorists for other things also!

      It makes me mad that they don’t listen to us; as I have never known any Palestinian/ Lebanese/ Syrian/ Arab/ N.African to speak like that. (Though they are probably out there but not the sort of people I know or whose work I read etc.). I feel so desolate about these people not understanding how they are hurting us & their refusal to listen to us. I love Jews. Of course – they are in my family album. And our Christian communities were of course begun 2000+ years ago in my ancestral homeland as Jewish communities & we are intermarried.

      Tschüss Frank! (I am over 50 also btw!). xx


  2. Frank Hoeger says:

    Hi Zoe
    Really touching and impressing..may their spirits give you a permanent inspiration and advice..After all these years, we still find the traces of human tragedies, the lies that Hitler and his propaganda seeded are still not removed.
    All these perfridities, lies and betrayals, caused a feeling that you might had a chance to help your neighbours anf friends when they took them off…and you did not do, when you had the chance is carved very deeply in the souls of this generation, together with the impressions of the war years a lost and bad time, a personal defeat that you cannot make undone.
    I always found a lot of this brokenness in Roger’s Songs, for long time, I did not listen to them, but if I briefly look today at “Animlals”, “Dark Side of the Moon” and “The Wall” I still find points to reflect for today’s situation.
    A big problem now is, that religiuous jewish organizations try to mix political and religious questions. Exactly that was the strategy of Hitler and Goebbels: they try to make people believe that a confession, like being jewish, is identical with a biological characteristic like race, or transferred to the situation today: a political entity like being a Citizen of Isarel.
    Many german Jews had been completely assimilated, they did not even remember that their ancestors lived in a religious jewish tradition. Until today, it is really shocking, that you had been able to divide friends, neigbours and famiilies.
    But exactly this argumentation is used by many jewish religious communities when there are discussins about the behaviour of the Israelic gouvernment: they too mix this really different subjects and create the same dangerous mix of lies that was fundament on which many german jews where killed in that time.
    Since the murder of Rabin, the situation in Israel developped in a very dangerous direction.
    If we do not find a way of coexisting, there is a permant danger of terrible conflicts with endless victims. Gaza will be a waste land in very short time, The ground cannot carry all this starving people there.
    We all saw, how ISIS acted, how they destroyed very ancient structures of coexistence….who raised a protest dor all the victims there, Jessids, Alavits,Assyrians, Armenians, Curds and all the nameless that we can only imagine…unbelivable what happened there.
    No one, not Europe, not America, Russia nor Israel was there,when it was necessary to stop all this.
    The Osman Empire was not a democratic construction, but it offerd peace, safety, tolerance and prosperity for all ethnics and confessions.
    We need to find a way back soon on this path, we all are involved there, the fate of this people effects us all. They are still sacriificed on the Altars of capitalism, Imperialism, greed and false ideologies … whe need to end this..and the first way: name it.

    Perhaps you know the words of Martin Niemöller, the great resistance fighter against Hitler:

    ” When they came to pick up the comunists, I did not stand up, because I was no comunist.
    when they came to take the jews, the gays, the gypsies, I did not speak too…
    ..and when they came for me, there was no one left to stand up….”


  3. resistzeitgeist807 says:

    Applying Nick Caves’ reasoning in the name of freedom to play music is staggering to say the least… I guess he would have played in a Concentration camp as well in the name of ‘freedom’. There is obviously no the line in the sand for him. The extent of his narcissism clearly allows him to cut out his conscience and totally ignore the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians…
    Still never mind, he can play to his heart’s content in the West…You know the West that has been in collusion with both psychopathic Zionism and militant Islam for decades….and funds the colonial Zionist expansionist project. Nick Cave surely has lost the respect of countless numbers of musicians, artists, writers etc but what is that to him….Freedom to strut his ego is what matters not the torture of children…bless him



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