Nick Cave, the dark poet of rock, is taking a “principled stand” against activists working to ostracise the Jewish state and credited the boycotters on Sunday with his decision to act against those trying to “bully” and “silence” musicians and go ahead with his shows here.
The Australian artist whose music can be both melancholic and uplifting simultaneously is well loved in Israel and both shows were almost sold out.
At a press conference, Cave spoke about the logistical challenges of playing Israel then said musicians also endure pressure from an international movement known as BDS that seeks to ostracize Israel by lobbying corporations, artists and academic institutions to sever ties with the Jewish state.
He said record producer Brian Eno had asked him three years ago 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.
“And then it kind of occurred to me that I’m not signing the list but I’m also not playing Israel and that just felt to me cowardly really.”
Cave said “it suddenly became very important to make a stand against those people that are trying to shut down musicians, to bully musicians to censor musicians and to silence musicians.”
He said after much thought and consideration he decided to play Israel on his tour this year.
“So at the end of the day there are two reasons why I am here. 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,” Cave said.
“So really you could say in a way that the BDS made me play Israel,” he said.
The boycott movement, also called the BDS movement, advocates boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel in what its supporters say is a nonviolent way to promote the Palestinian cause.
It has urged businesses, artists and universities to sever ties with Israel and includes thousands of volunteers around the world.
Israel says the campaign goes beyond fighting its occupation of territory Palestinians claim for a state and often masks a more far-reaching aim to delegitimise or destroy the Jewish state.
Some BDS critics accuse the movement of anti-Semitism because it singles out Israel for boycott while overlooking the Palestinian part in the conflict and ignoring other disputes around the world.
For fans Nick Cave is rock royalty with decades of influential albums.
BDS has enlisted the support of Pink Floyd frontman Roger Waters and has persuaded some performers like Elvis Costello and Lauren Hill against playing.
A long list of artists including Metallica, Madonna, Elton John, Rihanna, Ozzy Osbourne and others ignore the pressure and continue to perform in Israel.