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Nick Cave: Performing in Israel is a “Principled Stand” against Boycotters

Australian rocker Nick Cave has spoken about his admiration for Israel and his decision to perform in the country as a stance against the anti-Semitic Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment (BDS) movement, The Times of Israel reported Sunday.

Speaking at a press conference ahead of his Sunday and Monday night sold-out performances in Tel Aviv, Cave told reporters that “I love Israel and I love Israeli people,” adding that he wanted to take “a principled stand against anyone who tries to censor and silence musicians. So really, you could say, in a way, that the BDS made me play Israel.”

The musician said he formed a special bond with the Jewish state during a trip years ago. “People speak about loving a nation, but I felt a kind of connection that I couldn’t really describe,” he said. Cave first visited Israel to play in a concert in 1993 and has returned twice since.

The musician explained, however, that he had not played in Israel for two decades because of pressure applied by members of the music industry that support BDS efforts. “If you do come here….you have to go through public humiliation from Roger Waters and his partners and no one wants to embarrass themselves publicly,” he stated. “For 20 years, I said, ‘let’s give it up,” Cave said of plans to come to Israel.

But Cave maintained his pro-Israel position throughout the years and explained that he refused to sign an ‘Artists for Palestine’ petition, calling for artists to refrain from coming to Israel. “A few years ago, Brian Eno sent me a letter and asked me to sign it to shut out Israel, and I sent a letter back that said I wouldn’t sign.”

He continued, “I understood that I wouldn’t sign but I also wouldn’t perform in Israel — and that seemed like I was acting scared. So I called my people and asked that we perform in Israel,” adding that “It suddenly became very important to make a stand, to me, against those people who are trying to shut down musicians, to bully musicians, to censor musicians and to silence musicians.”

BDS has enlisted the support of Pink Floyd frontman Roger Waters and has persuaded some performers like Elvis Costello and Lauren Hill against playing.

This past summer Radiohead played a concert in Tel Aviv, after lead singer Thom Yorke blasted the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) campaign that seeks to isolate Israel as “offensive” and “partronizing” in an interview.

Earlier this month Boy George, the lead singer of Culture Club performed in Tel Aviv with his band saying “I go where I want,” and would not listen to those pressuring him to boycott Israel.

A long list of artists, however, including Metallica, Madonna, Elton John, Rihanna, Ozzy Osbourne and others have ignored the pressure and performed in Israel in recent years. Other top artists performing this year include the legendary American rock band Guns N’ Roses finished their world tour in Tel Aviv this summer, as well as Rod Stewart, Britney SpearsJustin Bieber, and Aerosmith.

Cave’s story of being pressured mirrors experiences of other artists who have defied the BDS campaign.

Several artists planning to participate two years ago in the Titans of Metal Festival, received threatening messages from BDS activists about their plans to play in Israel.

Eagles of Death Metal, the band that was performing at the Bataclan Theater in Paris when ISIS-linked terrorists attacked the venue two years ago, played in Israel during the summer of 2015, despite demands by BDS supporters to cancel the show. The lead singer of the band, Jesse Hughes, said he rejected Waters’ pleas not to perform in the Jewish state, telling him “F– you.”

Anti-Israel activists have long been accused of harassing and intimidating artists. Two years ago, reports surfaced that former Beatle and rock legend Sir Paul McCartney faced death threats for performing in Tel Aviv. Around the same time, former Animals frontman Eric Burdon cancelled his concert after BDS supporters bombarded him with “threatening emails” on a daily basis. Burdon later reconsidered his decision and went ahead with the scheduled performance.

[Photo: Yifat Cohen / YouTube]