Yesterday, Nick Cave held a press conference about the BDS (Boyott, Divestment, and Sanctions) movement, which aims to put economic pressure on Israel to stop the country’s persecution of its Palestinian citizens. In the press conference, Cave said that he would not participate in any boycott against Israel. He’d claimed that art-rock eminence Brian Eno approached him a few years ago, asking him to sign a boycott list: “On a very intuitive level I did not want to sign that list, there was something that stunk to me about that list.” Cave said that he’d play a couple of shows in Israel, in part, to “make a principled stand against anyone who wants to censor and silence musicians.” Eno has now responded.
In a press release, Eno writes:
The BDS argument is simple enough: Israel has consistently — and lavishly — used cultural exchange as a form of “hasbara” (propaganda) to improve the image of the country abroad, and to “show Israel’s prettier face” in the words of a foreign ministry official. The BDS campaign is simply asking artists not to be part of that propaganda campaign.
It’s nothing to do with “silencing” artists — a charge I find rather grating when used in a context where a few million people are permanently and grotesquely silenced. Israel spends hundreds of millions of dollars on hasbara, and its side of the argument gets broadcast loud and clear. Coupled with the scare-tactic of labelling any form of criticism of Israeli policy as “antisemitic,” this makes for a very uneven picture of what is going on.
The former Pink Floyd frontman Roger Waters was one of many artists who urged Cave not to perform in Israel. He’s also responded to Cave’s press conference:
Nick thinks this is about censorship of his music? What? Nick, with all due respect, your music is irrelevant to this issue, so is mine, so is Brian Eno’s so is Beethoven’s, this isn’t about music, it’s about human rights.
We, hundreds of thousands of us, supporters of BDS and human rights throughout history all over the world join together in memory of Sharpeville and Wounded Knee and Lidice and Budapest and Ferguson and Standing Rock and Gaza and raise our fists in protest. We hurl our glasses into the fire of your arrogant unconcern, and smash our bracelets on the rock of your implacable indifference.
What if it was your demolished home? Your invaded country? Your villages razed to the ground to build stadiums for the invaders to promote pop concerts on? Your uprooted olive trees? Seven million of your brothers and sisters living in refugee camps? Victims of ethnic cleansing? Would your sorrow trump your obsession with concerns about the censorship of your music?
By the way, on one of the Israeli news sites I was directed to a video of yours on YouTube. Towards the end I picked up on the following lyric: “Let us sit together in the dark until the moment comes.”
Nick, the moment came and went brother, you missed it, if at some point in the future you want to climb out of the dark, all you have to do is open your eyes, we, in BDS will be here to welcome you into the light.