Despite the best efforts of Roger Waters, Brian Eno, Thurston Moore, TV on the Radio’s Tunde Adebimpe and other Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) supporters, Nick Cave has played one concert in Tel Aviv and is scheduled to play another tonight. The dates are a continuation of an otherwise-Euro tour, and the Israeli headlines praising Cave are already flooding the internet with joy at the artist’s sanction breakthrough.
The prince of darkness appeared at a press conference yesterday to explain his intentions to perform in Israel and to illustrate how unfair it is to go through a sort of “public humiliation” if one decides to go against a Pink Floyd member’s ideologies. He’s specifically calling out Waters here, referencing the Pink Floyd member’s attempts to dissuade Thom Yorke from performing in Israel last summer.
“So at the end of the day there are two reasons why I am here,” Cave said during the presser. “One is that I love Israel and I love Israeli people, and two is to make a principled stand against anyone who wants to censor and silence musicians. So really you could say in a way that the BDS made me play Israel.”
It’s the BDS, and also Eno, whom Cave claims tried to coerce him into signing an anti-Israel boycott three years ago over the country’s occupation of Palestinian territory. Cave didn’t sign it because “there was there was something that stunk to [him] about that list.” The stink turned to a staunch need to speak and perform regardless of conflict—it would be “cowardly” not to play Israel on his current tour, Cave said. In 2014, Lana Del Rey, Neil Young, Backstreet Boys, Cee Lo Green and other artists cancelled their Israeli shows in response to the conflict in Gaza. Many others have followed suite in the face of cowardice.
On the Artists for Palestine U.K. website, both Roger Waters and Brian Eno have issued statements in response to Cave’s press conference.
Eno said in part:
This has 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.
First: Disbelief. 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. Next: Rage. This is about children, like the young boys blown to bits while playing soccer on the beach in Gaza.
The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI), a founding member of the BDS national committee, has also weighed in and issued a statement saying Cave’s concerts “are a propaganda gift to Israeli apartheid.”
You can watch a clip of Cave and the Bad Seeds performing “Push the Sky Away” in Tel Aviv last night. One wonders if the Bad Seeds bandleader played his most famous song, “Red Right Hand,” in the face of great irony or, as the song says, “where secrets lie in the border fires.”