Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds © Melanie SmithNick Cave decides to play Israel to stand up to ‘anyone who tries to censor and silence musicians’

Nick Cave has replied to the BDS campaign which was attempting to stop him from playing in Israel tonight. The campaign which is attempting to put pressure on the Israeli government by stopping bands and musicians from playing there has had success in the past few years with big name backers like Roger Waters and gigs by Thurston Moore stopped but Radiohead defied the campaign recently and the argument has become increasing polarised with Nick Cave the latest musician to hit back.

“For me, we came to Israel 20 years ago or so and did a couple of tours of Israel,” Cave said. “I felt a huge connection with Israel. People talk about loving a country, but I just felt, on some sort of level, a connection that I couldn’t really describe.”

He continued to explain that The Bad Seeds had not played in the country in the intervening two decades due to the lack of success of their 1997 record ‘The Boatman’s Call’, which “flopped” in Israel. Cave told the audience of reporters that touring that part of the world is “expensive and time-consuming”, and that “on top of that, you have to go through a kind of public humiliation from Roger Waters and co.”

“No one wants to be publicly shamed, It’s the thing we fear most, in a way – to be publicly humiliated. And I think, to my shame, I did that for maybe 20 years. Israel would come up and I would say, ‘Let’s not do it.’”

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. Then it occurred to me that I’m not signing the list, but I’m also not playing Israel. And that just seemed to me cowardly, really.

“So after a lot of thought and consideration, I rang up my people and said, ‘We’re doing a 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. So, really, you could say in a way that the BDS [Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement] made me play Israel.”

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  1. Nick Cave has had a massive impact on my life from Birthday Party days and though it pains me to say it, I think he is wrong. It is not about censorship, it is not about censoring music or musicians, it is not about shutting down music, it is about the lives of people that Israel has control over, it s about lives that are effected by what Israel is doing. I love some Israeli people, the ones that I know and I do not hate those that I do not but what the Israeli government do and how they treat Palestinian people is not right. If Nick Cave thinks it’s about music and censorship then the guy is a prize muppet.

    • For someone who apparently thought Long and hard about his decision he says pretty much nothing other than he likes playing there and won’t be stopped. No mention of Israels expansion into Arab homelands and the murder of innocents. Disappointed in Cave to say the least.

  2. Well, as much as I have no idea about his music, I – and decent world citizens – will remember him as a poster boy for ethnic cleansing and apartheid. We may never know whether it was cowardice, greed or racism that have caused him to pander to israel.

  3. Well done Nick for standing up to the bullies and zealots, “Roger Waters and co” and not giving in to cowardice and hypocrisy and confronting it head on. It takes a lot of courage. Fuck their sanctions…they hurt everyone. Music crosses all kinds of borders and unites us all, and should not to be used as an ideological/political weapon. Divide and rule is a trick people should not fall for, but they do. Who needs war when people are already fighting each other? We are doing their work for them….policing each other, marginalising and even eliminating those who we disagree with. It’s not on and it sure stinks. Cave is not playing for the Israeli Government or selling them weapons. Music fans against other music fans….it’s pathetic. Morrissey is getting stick for this too from the usual bunch of cloth eared pansies who can’t read, let alone understand what he is singing about.

  4. I have been listening to Caves music since the Birthday Party .In1982 I went to my first gig. I have many albums. I stop buying anymore.
    This has absolutely nothing to do with censorship or bullying of musicians. It is the bullying and censorship of one rich and mighty state against another poorer state that has lost manyof it human rights. Many people have died lands lost children traumatised. It is an appartied state. Also many suffering grief as you do.
    No one has tried to stop any other part of your tour so clearly it’s not about censorship of music.

  5. The Morrissey comparison is a good one – yet another ageing millionaire former punk who is surrounded by yes men and so out of touch with the reality of poverty and suffering that they will pander to the oppressors rather than the oppressed, for the filthy lucre.

  6. Just love Nick’s cockiness…that’s what defines him! At least he’s true to himself, and not a bandwagon pansy! (One could argue merits for years to come)

  7. Nick Cave’s performances in Tel Aviv and recent statement are a propaganda gift to Israeli apartheid.

    Betraying his progressive values, Nick Cave will play Tel Aviv, ignoring how his gig will help to art-wash Israel’s decades-old oppression of Palestinians. Oblivious to Israel’s siege of two million Palestinians in Gaza as well as ethnic cleansing and settlements in occupied Jerusalem, Cave is crossing the nonviolent picket line drawn by Palestinians. No wonder the Israeli regime of occupation and apartheid is gloating about his gig.

    Cave reminds us of otherwise progressive artists who ended up whitewashing South African apartheid by playing Sun City in the 1980s.

    Nonetheless, we thank Nick Cave for making one thing abundantly clear– playing Tel Aviv is never simply about music. It is a political and moral decision to stand with the oppressor against the oppressed. We march on, resisting, organizing until we achieve our full menu of rights.

    The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI)

    See also this statement from Boycott from Within:

    Israelis respond to Nick Cave’s proclamation of love


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