Should a rock god travel to the holy land?
With local Palestinian artists are being arrested and banned from traveling, international rock stars are urging their peers to stay away from Israel.
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds are scheduled to end their tour with two shows in Tel Aviv on November 19 and 20. Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters, Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore, TV on the Radio’s Tunde Adebimpe and other musicians signed an open letter asking Cave not to play.
“Please don’t go,” it reads. “When international artists of your stature, despite the appeals of Palestinians, continue to turn up on Israeli stages, the government which promotes these crimes [against humanity] takes heart: whatever it does, it seems there will be no penalty.”
Israel has been established as an apartheid regime dominating the Palestinian people.
The letter elaborates on the “domination” over the Palestinians as meaning house arrest, literary festivals being broken up, travels bans for artists, social media surveillance, media being plundered and the normalization of military force and corrupt government.
“Don’t go—not while apartheid remains,” the letter concludes. “Stand true to your support for those who opposed Israel’s attacks on Gaza. Stand for freedom.”
Waters provided his own statement questioning what Cave and other artists scheduled to play Israel would do if they were in administrative detention or had their kids arrested in the middle of the night. “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,” he writes.
He also compares this to other times of protests that musicians were part of like standing against Jim Crow America in the 60s and apartheid South Africa in the 80s and 90s. “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?” he asks.
Waters concludes with an ultimatum for these musicians. “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,” he writes.
The same plea went out to Radiohead earlier this year when they were scheduled to play Tel Aviv in July. Thom Yorke responded by saying they don’t support the apartheid, but they were still going to play. “Playing a country isn’t the same as endorsing its government,” Yorke tweets. “We don’t endorse Netanyahu any more than Trump, but we still play in America.” They went on to play their longest show in 11 years.
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds have yet to respond to the letter and are still scheduled to play.