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.
Nick Cave has held a press conference in Israel, in which he explained he ‘decided to play in Israel to stand up to ‘anyone who tries to censor and silence musicians’. According to the NME: ‘The musician explained that his change in attitude came about when Brian Eno asked him to a sign a list called Artists For Palestine three years ago. “On a very intuitive level, [I] did not want to sign it,” he said. “There was something that stunk to me about that list.”
“So after a lot of thought and consideration I rang up my people and said, ‘We’re doing an European tour and Israel.’ Because it suddenly became very important to me to make a stand against those people who are trying to shut down musicians, to bully musicians, to censor musicians, and to silence musicians. At the end of the day, there’s maybe two reasons why I’m here. One is that I love Israel and I love Israeli people, and two is to make a principled stand against anyone who tries to censor and silence musicians. ”’
Today, in addition to a statement from Artists for Palestine UK, we are publishing a number responses to Cave’s comments from individual artists.
*UPDATE Thurston Moore comment added on 25.11.2017
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.
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.
Our regular report on Israel’s war on Palestinian cultural life and expression.
The Palestine Museum: in search of connectedness
August saw the opening of the Palestine Museum at Bir Zeit. Its first major exhibition, Jerusalem Lives, aims to speak about Jerusalem to Palestinians throughout the occupied West Bank who are prevented from visiting the city. The exhibition registers Jerusalem’s diminishing place in the world: ethnic domination and the relentless takeover of Palestinian neighbourhoods, are turning Jerusalem from a global city into one which is losing its connectedness to other places. Nigel Wilson in Al Jazeera quotes curator Reem Fadda on a sound installation by Emily Jacir in the museum’s gardens: she asked the taxi drivers ‘to recreate the emotion that was there when they used to take travellers all across the cities of Palestine, from Lyd to Ramle to Ramallah and across the borders into Arab cities; they used to go to Damascus, Beirut and it was all connected’.
October 30th, 2017, London.
Dear Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds,
You are scheduled to perform in Tel Aviv on 19th & 20th November. Please don’t go.
In the words of a recent UN report, ‘Israel has established an apartheid regime that dominates the Palestinian people’.
Asked about the recent decision by artists Nick Cave, Bryan Adams and Thom Yorke to either cross the picket line called for by Palestinian civil society, or announce their intention to do so, Roger Waters has told Artists for Palestine UK:
I wonder if Nick and Bryan [Adams, scheduled to play Tel Aviv December 4 and 5, and Jerusalem December 6] and Thom Yorke and the rest of these guys were to spend even a day or two in administrative detention [without charge or trial], or even once have their kids woken and arrested in the middle of the night, or, or, or……whether they would still ignore the screams of the victims and the desperate pleas for help from Palestinian civil society, whether they would still cross the picket line.
And before all the self justification starts, yes, of course other countries have bad records on human rights, not least the USA. But in the fight for human rights we have to make our stand where and when we can. In the 60s it was Jim Crow America, in the 80s and 90s it was Apartheid South Africa, now it is Lawless Apartheid Israel. You stood up for your South African brothers and sisters in the 90s, why would you ignore your Palestinian brothers and sisters in the 2010s?
You stand at a crossroads; you can either heed the cry, respect your brothers’ and sisters’ picket line and stand with them in their struggle for the basic human rights we all take for granted, or you can turn your backs on them, take the shilling, and entertain their lords and masters at the banquets and balls.
In recent years, people promoting the mantras of ‘constructive engagement’ and ‘bridge-building’ with Israel have cited Professor Noam Chomsky in their defence. He is alleged to oppose the campaign of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) launched by Palestinian civil society in 2005.
Artists for Palestine UK contacted Professor Chomsky to ask him to clarify his position, for the record.
He has given us this statement:
‘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.’
Artists for Palestine UK (APUK) strongly condemns threats made against British artist Kate Tempest as a result of her support for Palestinian rights. A poet, spoken word artist and author, Tempest is one of more than 1200 UK-based artists to sign APUK’s pledge to uphold the cultural boycott of Israel. This conscientious decision by so many principled artists stands in stark contrast to the shameful intimidation tactics, including personal threats, directed against Tempest, which led to the cancellation of her concert, scheduled for October 6th 2017 at Berlin’s former airport Tempelhof. Tempest’s management said that she did not want to perform in an “aggressive atmosphere”, having received “personal threats via email and over social media”, adding that they did not want to risk the safety of her team.
Last month eight artists cancelled appearances at Pop-Kultur festival in Berlin, in protest at the festival’s decision to partner with the Israeli embassy in Germany. In response, the festival organisers, media commentators and local politicians condemned these conscientious artists, often in racialised terms, and promoted straight lies about the terms and aims of the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) human rights movement. As the festival drew to a close, the purveyors of this defamatory and abusive rhetoric found a new target, with Kate Tempest identified by German media as a signatory to the APUK pledge. One recent article asked, “Can an anti-Israel activist appear in Berlin?”. Another demanded the city’s Mayor Michael Müller cancel the concert. Continue reading
AN OPEN LETTER TO RAYMOND SIMONSON,
CEO OF JW3 JEWISH COMMUNITY CENTRE LONDON
From Artists for Palestine UK
Sunday 10 September 2017, London.
Dear Raymond Simonson,
We’re reading the blurb for Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat’s presentation on Tuesday at JW3, and curious to know if JW3 as an organisation supports the views it expresses.
The blurb says ‘Nir Barkat was 7 years old…when Israel’s capital was finally reunited’. You will know that the United Nations Security Council, the UN General Assembly, and the International Court of Justice consider that East Jerusalem is Palestinian territory illegally occupied by Israel. Where does JW3 stand?
The blurb refers to ‘Jerusalem at 50’ (presumably fifty years of Israeli conquest, since Jerusalem has been in existence in some form since the Canaanites), and calls this ‘the fulfilment of a 2000-year-old dream’.
Roger Waters, Ken Loach, Caryl Churchill and Thurston Moore are among many leading artists calling for London’s celebrated Roundhouse to cancel its involvement with a festival designed to promote Israel as a progressive and liberal destination with a ‘glittering’ capital city.
TLV in LDN is supposedly a celebration of culture, but its director Marc Worth has revealed in an interview that the festival is the dream child of Israel’s diplomatic mission in the UK, and was conceived in response to the growing movement for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS). BDS seeks to highlight Israel’s systemic violation of Palestinian human, civil and political rights. Continue reading
In 2007 a poster of an almost naked Miss Israel, Gal Gadot, and a poster of four fit young men, equally barely dressed, were the faces of Israel in a campaign named Brand Israel, commissioned by the government and the Jewish Agency for Israel. The young woman (Miss Israel 2004 and a recent star in the Hollywood blockbuster Fast and Furious) was meant to attract the heterosexual young American to a rebranded Jewish State, while the young men became the faces advertising Tel Aviv as the gay capital of Israel. One wonders how Theodore Herzl or even David Ben-Gurion and Menachem Begin would have regarded this presentation of Zionism as a soft-porn wet dream. But policymakers had decided that anything and everything was appropriate in the struggle to fend off Israel’s negative image.
This passage appears in the Epilogue to “The Idea of Israel” by Israeli historian Ilan Pappé, published in 2014 with the subtitle “A History of Power and Knowledge”. A “mordantly witty book” (Jewish Quarterly), it shows how Zionism operates outside of the government and military in areas such as Israel’s literature, education system, media and cinema. Pappé reveals how successive generations of intellectuals have framed the 1948 conflict as a liberation campaign, creating a foundation myth that went unchallenged in Israeli society until very recently. Its perpetuation is the goal of a “Brand Israel” campaign which continues to this day.
Prof. Pappé has kindly made his Epilogue, which focuses on Brand Israel, available to supporters of the boycott movement which seeks to unmask and challenge the weaponisation of culture in Israel’s war against Palestinians.
London, 30 August 2017
Dear Gillian Merron,
What are we to make of the UK’s main Jewish organisation calling for the Barbican to remove a video artwork from a science-fiction themed exhibition?
Apparently you had not seen ‘In the Future They Ate from the Finest Porcelain’, the video installation by Palestinian artist Larissa Sansour and Danish author Søren Lind, when you chose to write to the Barbican to demand its removal.
Young Fathers, the Mercury Award-winning group from Edinburgh, have announced their withdrawal from Berlin Pop-Kultur to protest the festival’s acceptance of sponsorship from the Israeli Embassy in Germany.
The band are the third group of UK artists, and the eighth in total, to withdraw from Pop-Kultur in solidarity with Palestinians living under occupation and in exile.
Artists for Palestine UK warmly thanks all fellow artists who act in support of the Palestinians’ urgent need for rights and freedom – despite considerable misinformation put out by the festival organisers and in German media coverage.
Young Fathers, who performed in M.I.A.’s Meltdown Festival at the London Southbank in June 2017, said in their statement:
“Young Fathers have a long history of opposing any form of hatred including racism and anti-semitism and we support the principle of a peaceful solution that allows Palestinians the right to return to a safe homeland and that allows Israelis and Palestinians of all faiths (and none) to live together in peace. This is a very tiny act on our behalf in the grand scale of things but one we still believe is worth it.”
Annie Goh is is the 6th artist to withdraw from Berlin’s Pop-Kutur over sponsorship by Israel. She issued the following statement via Facebook today, which we reproduce below. Aside from making clear the reasons for her cancellation, she criticises the misinformation put out by Pop-Kultur’s organisers regarding BDS, and describes as ‘despicable’ smears against the four Arab artists who withdrew from the festival (their principled statements are reproduced in part on our blog here).
Like Goh, we at Artists for Palestine UK have been particularly appalled at the attacks on the Arab artists whose statements to the festival could not have been clearer or more humane in articulating the reason and the object of their protest.
Our regular report on Israel’s war on Palestinian cultural life and expression.
[Pictured: Palestinian-American rapper and video-maker, Abu Rahss]
HOW ISRAEL MAINTAINS A FREE AND THRIVING PRESS
In May 2015, the United Nations Security Council adopted Resolution 2222, on the protection of journalists in conflict situations. The resolution ‘condemned all violations and abuses committed against journalists, media professionals and associated personnel in situations of armed conflict’.
During the debate on the resolution, Israel’s delegate, David Roet, spoke in praise of his country, ‘a model for how a democratic nation, even while facing immense challenges could maintain a free and thriving press’.
In a statement released on Friday 28th July, the NGO Reporters sans Frontières condemned Israeli forces for using ‘intimidation, denial of access, violence and arrests to limit or prevent media coverage of the demonstrations and clashes sparked by the introduction of additional security measures around the Al-Aqsa Mosque in the Old City of Jerusalem’
In a statement released on 31st July, the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists condemned a pre-dawn raid by Israeli forces on the headquarters of the media production company Palmedia. They ransacked Palmedia’s offices, and destroyed equipment.
In a statement released on 6th August, the Committee to Protect Journalists condemned Israel’s decision, announced by Communications Minister Ayoob Kara, to close Al-Jazeera’s offices in Israel, revoke the credentials of its journalists and censor its transmissions.
AN OPEN LETTER TO ALL UK MUSICIANS SCHEDULED TO APPEAR IN BERLIN AUGUST 23 – 25, 2017
‘Art goes beyond a single act on a stage; it’s against all that is regressive and discriminatory in this world’
Mohammad Abu Hajar, Syrian rapper
When you signed up to play Berlin Pop-Kultur, you possibly didn’t know that the Israeli Embassy in Germany was a sponsor. Maybe you also don’t know that Palestinian civil society, living under Israeli military occupation or in exile, is appealing to artists not to take part in events sponsored by the state of Israel, in solidarity with the Palestinians’ long struggle for rights and freedom.
But now that you do know, will you follow the example of the musicians who have withdrawn from Pop-Kultur in the past few days?
For the second August in a row, advocates for Israel have used Edinburgh’s huge annual cultural gathering as cover for an attempt to whitewash the state’s decades of oppression and racist discrimination against Palestinians.
Under the rubric of coexistence and cultural cooperation, this year’s International Shalom Festival, staged over three days at a community secondary school, sought to avoid the opprobrium heaped upon its blatantly propagandistic 2016 incarnation.
Last year the event’s organisers, known for working with the Israeli Embassy to undermine and oppose campaigning work in support of Palestinian rights, proudly proclaimed it as a major “Israel advocacy” initiative. This year the same groups – the Confederation of Friends of Israel Scotland (COFIS) and StandWithUs – have tried to entice audiences with a vision of Israel as a haven of tolerance and harmony offering “real examples of coexistence”.
Radiohead are a band that many had associated with progressive politics. But now it turns out they have an extraordinary following among Israeli diplomats and right-wing conservatives. From US radio host Glenn Beck and Tea Party Patriots co-founder Mark Meckler, a range of around twenty Israel lobby groups, and thirteen Israeli diplomatic missions around the world from Ireland to Colombia, these groups are united in their explicit contempt for the indigenous Palestinian people’s lives.
The Jerusalem Post described Radiohead’s Israel gig and Thom Yorke’s rejection of the Palestinian call for BDS as “the best hasbara [advocacy] Israel has received lately”. Thom Yorke has defended their decision saying that “playing in a country isn’t the same as endorsing its government”, but the Israeli government and its supporters certainly do endorse Radiohead.
Palestinian, Israeli and UK artists and activists have repeatedly pointed to the inevitable instrumentalisation of the band’s appearance in Tel Aviv by Israel and its supporters.
Below are samples of government & lobby messaging from June and July.
The Israeli historian Ilan Pappe has issued the following statement regarding Radiohead’s decision to appear on stage in Israel tomorrow, disregarding appeals from Palestinians and their supporters around the world.
Via Artists for Palestine UK, London, July 18th
‘The oppression of the Palestinians in the occupied territories has not ceased for one day in the last 50 years. This oppression includes daily violations of Palestinian human and civil rights and does not spare children, pregnant mothers, old people, disabled persons and ordinary men and women. The so called peace process has failed to end this oppression and each failure of its various stages has produced more oppression and despair for the millions of Palestinians living in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
Artists for Palestine UK statement
London, July 17
Film writer and director Mike Leigh has criticised Thom Yorke and Radiohead for ignoring Palestinian suffering, two days ahead of their controversial Israel gig.
Last week Radiohead front-man Yorke defended the band’s decision to play in Israel and ignore the Palestinian picket-line, arguing that music was about ‘crossing borders’ and ‘shared humanity’.
Today, Oscar nominated Leigh, who is in production for his forthcoming feature film ‘Peterloo’, issued the following statement via Artists for Palestine UK – Continue reading