One of the most controversial music stories of the year was Radiohead’s decision to perform in Tel Aviv in July, which resulted in a series of passionate and sometimes ugly exchanges between the band and supporters of the pro-Palestine Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement. Now Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds have scheduled a pair of performances in the same Israeli city, and many of the same artists who initially urged Radiohead to cancel have made the same call for cancellation.
Roger Waters, Thurston Moore, and TV On The Radio’s Tunde Adebimpe are among those who have reprised their case against performing in Israel in a new open letter under the banner of Artists For Palestine UK. The letter cites a UN report describing Israel’s treatment of Palestinians as “an apartheid regime that dominates the Palestinian people.” Among other complaints, the letter mentions writers under house arrest, social media surveillance, travel bans for actors and musicians, and the normalized use of military force against civilians. “These are crimes,” the letter reads. “But when international artists of your stature, despite the appeals of Palestinians, continue to turn up on Israeli stages, the government which promotes these crimes takes heart: whatever it does, it seems there will be no penalty.”
The Bad Seeds are scheduled to perform at Menorah Arena on Nov. 19 and 20. According the The Jerusalem Post, the concerts have been in the works since January and were originally expected to occur over the summer. Read the full Artists For Palestine letter below.
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’.
Domination means Palestinian writers under house arrest. Literary festivals broken up. Travel bans for actors and musicians. Social media under surveillance. Media centres raided and plundered. The normalized use of military force against a captive population. The steady expansion of illegal settlements.
These are crimes. But when international artists of your stature, despite the appeals of Palestinians, continue to turn up on Israeli stages, the government which promotes these crimes takes heart: whatever it does, it seems there will be no penalty.
Like others who’ve added Tel Aviv to their touring schedule, you may say that you oppose Netanyahu. But it matters little whether or not artists endorse Israel’s government. It’s the fact they’re willing to perform in Israel that is important. It is seen as public approval for the status quo: that’s why Israel’s foreign affairs ministry celebrated Radiohead’s visit last July, while its media proclaimed their appearance as ‘the best hasbara Israel has received lately’.
Noam Chomsky has recently said he’s opposed to any appearance in Israel that is used to cover up the denial of Palestinian human rights. We hope you will agree with him.
Don’t go – not while apartheid remains. Stand true to your support for those who opposed Israel’s attacks on Gaza. Stand for freedom.
Marc Lamont Hill