The minute Nick Cave published a letter yesterday that defended his controversial decision to play in Israel saying –
I do not support the current government in Israel, yet do not accept that my decision to play in the country is any kind of tacit support for that government’s policies.
Israeli officials wasted no time in getting to work trumpeting their support – undermining his effort to put distance between himself and the regime. Once again, the words and deeds of artists like Nick Cave are used as vital capital in Israel’s ongoing propaganda war against the Palestinian people.
At the time of the Bad Seeds’ concert back in November 2017, Nick Cave received an outpouring of endorsements from unlikely fans in the form of Israeli government officials and diplomats around the world – which we reproduced here. Radiohead’s appearance received an equally rapturous display of enthusiasm from Israel’s government when they crossed the Palestinian picket line.
Today Galit Peleg, Israeli diplomat, Head of Public Diplomacy at the Consulate General of Israel in New York showed her delight, tweeting:
Meanwhile the Israeli government’s official ‘anti-BDS’ app urged followers to LIKE comments supportive of Nick Cave’s decision. This is the practice known as ‘astroturfing’, coordinating a fake social media hype around a particular issue.
Sadly, claims made in Cave’s letter (which had been part of a private correspondence with Brian Eno) reveal that he is catastrophically misinformed.
The letter claims that the Palestinian lands that are illegally occupied by Israel are merely “disputed” and it proposes the notion that apartheid Israel is in fact “a real, vibrant, functioning democracy”. Both turns of phrase that directly echo the language of Israeli hasbara (advocacy/propaganda) but which reflect neither the reality and nor the language used by any respected human rights organisations nor by international law.
The letter goes on to cite Professor Noam Chomsky to back-up its argument stating: “The estimable Noam Chomsky considers the BDS as lacking legitimacy and inherently hypocritical”.
In order set the record straight we are happy to quote Chomsky on the above claims:
The oft repeated idea that Israel is a “vibrant democracy” is an absurd one. Unless the qualification is purely symbolic, there can be no “democratic Jewish (Christian, Muslim, white) state”. In the case of Israel, the “Jewishness” is very far from symbolic. There is no need to repeat here what I’ve written in the past, documenting extensively Israel’s discriminatory practices.’
‘I am opposed to any appearance in Israel that is used for nationalistic or other propaganda purposes to cover up its occupation and denial of Palestinian human rights. I’ve been involved in activities to hold Israel accountable for its international law violations since before the BDS movement took shape. While I have some tactical differences with the BDS movement, I strongly support the actions and continue to participate in them.’
Nick Cave has apparently made his letter to Brian Eno public because his fans continue to ask about his controversial decision to play in Israel.
Brian Eno’s response to Cave’s 2017 press statement in Israel in can found here.
Artists for Palestine UK’s statement ‘Nick Cave, who is being silenced?” in response to his curious claim that artists like himself are somehow being ‘silenced’, is here. The statement concludes with the words:
We regret that in a land of injustice Nick Cave is giving comfort to the unjust.