Nick Cave shares letter he sent to Brian Eno about 'cowardly and shameful' Israel boycott

'I do not support the current government in Israel, yet do not accept that my decision to play in the country is any kind of tacit support for that government's politics'

Roisin O'Connor
Music Correspondent
Wednesday 12 December 2018 09:59
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Nick Cave has published a letter to Brian Eno where he criticises the fellow musician for his stance on the Israel boycott.

Cave doubled down on his opposition to the cultural boycott a year after his controversial live performances in Tel Aviv, which he committed to despite pressure from artists such as Eno, Thurston Moore and Roger Waters.

"It suddenly became very important to make a stand against these people who are trying to shut down musicians, to bully musicians, to censor musicians and to silence musicians," he said at a press conference.

He also wrote a letter to Eno, which he has now publicly shared as part of his ongoing Q&A series Red Hand Files.

In it, he writes: "I do not support the current government in Israel, yet do not accept that my decision to play in the country is any kind of tacit support for that government's politics. Nor do I condone the atrocities that you have described; nor am I ignorant of them."

He adds: "I have done a considerable amount of work for Palestine through the Hoping Foundation, raising personally around £150,000 for the children of Palestine, so in a sense, I have already played the other's side.

"But I do not support the Boycott, Divestments and Sanctions movement, as you know. I think the cultural boycott of Israel is cowardly and shameful."

Cave is not the first musician to speak out against the pressures of the Israel boycott movement. Last year, Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke faced a considerable backlash from Waters, Ken Loach and other high profile figures in the arts after continuing with plans for a Radiohead gig in Israel.

Yorke argued that "playing in a country isn't the same as endorsing its government".

"We've played in Israel for over 20 years through a succession of governments, some more liberal than others," he said. "As we have in America."

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In his post, Cave adds after the letter: "Brian Eno, beyond any other musician, taught my friends and me how to make music. The records he made remain some of the most important and essential recordings I have ever heart. So, if there seems to be a thread of anguish that runs through this letter, this is indeed the case. I am writing to my hero."

He concludes: "Occasionally, I wonder if The Bad Seeds did the write thing in playing Israel. I cannot answer that question. I understand and accept the validity of many of the arguments that are presented to me. Indeed, some of my dearest friends in the music industry found my decision very difficult to accept, but there it is, after much consideration the decision was made: I simply could not treat my Israel fans with the necessary contempt to do Brian Eno's bidding."

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