Vociferous Israel critic Roger Waters hit back Monday at Australian rocker Nick Cave, who said that he had decided to play concerts in the Jewish state this week in part to resist criticism by the ex-Pink Floyd frontman and to take a principled position against boycott activists.
“Nick, with all due respect, your music is irrelevant to this issue, so is mine, so is Brian Eno’s so is Beethoven’s, this isn’t about music, it’s about human rights,” Waters wrote.
At a press conference Sunday, ahead of his first concert, Cave spoke about his love for Israel and his decision to stand up against BDS.
“If you do come here,” he said, “you have to go through public humiliation from Roger Waters and his partners and no one wants to embarrass themselves publicly.”
Waters did indeed attack Cave, accusing him of “arrogant unconcern” and “implacable indifference” to Palestinians’ plight.
“If at some point in the future you want to climb out of the dark,” he said, “all you have to do is open your eyes, we, in BDS will be here to welcome you into the light.”
Bassist and vocalist Waters, an outspoken critic of Israel, is known for publicly harassing artists scheduled to visit the country or perform here.
In 2013, the Anti-Defamation League, having previously defended Waters against charges of anti-Semitism, acknowledged that “anti-Semitic conspiracy theories” have “seeped into the totality” of the former Pink Floyd frontman’s views.
Brian Eno, who rose to fame with Roxy Music in the 1970s, was somewhat more measured in his response to Cave.
He noted an affinity to Israel. “As it happens I share a birthday with Israel: I too was born on May 15 1948. It’s a random coincidence, but perhaps it’s partly responsible for predisposing me to a sympathy and admiration for the country and its technical, intellectual and social achievements,” he wrote.“I admire Nick Cave as an artist and I know he has been generous in his support for Palestinian humanitarian causes. I think he has every right to come to his own conclusions about whether or not he supports BDS,” he wrote.
“I still admire all those things, but, as I learn more about the despicable situation Israeli ambitions have created for the Palestinians I feel a growing dread. To me it seems that Israel is digging itself into a deep, dark hole, where it will doubtless find company with Trump and various other nationalists around the globe.”
Cave had said that Eno was directly responsible for his decision to play in Tel Aviv.
“For 20 years, I said, ‘let’s give it up,” Cave said of plans to come 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. 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.”
Said Cave: “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.”
Cave elaborated that he was in Israel for two reasons: “I love Israel and I love Israeli people,” he said, and 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.”