Ahead of two sold out shows in Tel Aviv, Nick Cave called a press conference Sunday night (November 19) to address the controversy which has surrounded his decision to play in Israel.
He began by discussing his love of Israel as a country, and stated that for a long time, along with poor album sales there, the threat of condemnation from fellow musicians—in particular the group led by Roger Waters in association with the Palestinian boycott movement BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions)—had stopped him from performing there:
If you do play Israel, you have to go through a kind of public humiliation from Roger Waters and co. and 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 look, 'let’s not do it.'
He continued, citing a request from Brian Eno and BDS to add his name to a list of artists condemning Israel. Cave felt a discomfort with the list, and refused to sign, leading to his decision to play shows once again in Israel. He specifically cites his desire to stand up to what he calls 'censorship.'
I just didn’t, on a very intuitive level, did not want to sign that list. There was something that stunk to me about that list. So I wrote back and I said 'I don’t like lists, I don’t want to sign the list.' Then it kind of 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 that are trying to shut down musicians, to bully musicians, to censor musicians and to silence musicians. At the end of the say 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.
Cave's decision follows that of another high profile group, Radiohead, who also played in Israel earlier this year, and were met with condemnation. He played one show in Tel Aviv last night, and has one more to come tonight (November 20).
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