RESPONSE ONE: 07 June 2011
Thank you for your letter. Believe me, the decision to play in Tel Aviv was not taken lightly by me or the band. We have been through weeks of intense ongoing debate and discussions, soul searching and research. We have met with two peace activists, one of whom is Palestinian and lives in Ramallah. Our thoughts at present are these:
1. The more we know about the many sides to this horrible conflict, the more we realize we don't know.
2. It certainly appears that both the Israeli Left and the Palestinian Left are divided right down the middle as to whether this kind of a boycott is a good idea at all. It is nowhere near as solid or as unified as the boycott against apartheid South Africa.
Setting foot in Israel does not automatically make us supporters of the Netanyahu regime or the policies we all oppose. Quite the opposite, in fact.
3. I agree with Peace activists who have said how important it is for someone like me to actually go there and see for myself what is really going on. Then, back home in America, I will be able to speak more knowledgeably from eyewitness experience, at a time when most Americans only get their information from dumbed down, censored corporate McNews.
It was never our intention to play the gig, hang out at the beach, and go home. After the gig I am staying around for several days. Am I going to Palestine too? Absolutely.
We know this issue is so multifaceted and volatile that no matter what I or the band do, someone is going to be upset. Sort of the story of my life, in a way. I hope that by making this trip we can in some small way help bring down that goddamn wall.
For peace and justice,
RESPONSE TWO: 16 June 2011
Thanks a lot for caring enough to weigh in with all your comments and suggestions. I can't deny I'm glad this has stirred up so much debate. People unaware of the Palestinian side(s) of the story can now use all these links to learn a lot more.
Some have suggested I go to Israel alone for a personal fact-finding mission before bringing the band. Good idea, but I don't have the money and free time some people may think I do. The way I get overseas is to play my way there, so to speak.
We tried for a gig in Ramallah, but no luck. No, I wouldn't have played Sun City back in South Africa's apartheid days. But an underground punk show for an anti-apartheid audience might have been tempting, especially for them. (some RSA punks did ask).
I don't see how the Netanyahu government could manipulate this event for their own purposes. What right wing regime in their right mind would want to namedrop me? I am not exactly known for keep my mouth shut onstage, especially about human rights violations. There is no government sponsorship of this show.
Please understand that we are still torn up about this, in no small part because we are probably 95 - 99% in agreement on this issue with the people writing in. I have been part of Peace Now for years and have contributed to at least one Palestinian medical aid organization.
The main reason I wanted to do this in the first place is not just to see first hand what is going on, but for our likely audience of people already there who are as outraged over the extreme oppression as we are.
I think of all the spoken word shows I have done in the American Deep South, especially smaller towns, where it seemed like every radical and progressive person from a wide area showed up, and let me know how thankful they were I even bothered to come. That they looked around the room and felt they weren't alone. Or that not every American is down with either of our governments' non-stop human rights violations, and that it is important to have allies and friends.