Nick Cave: Playing Israel is stand against people trying to silence musicians
Nick Cave has said he decided to perform in Israel to take a stand against “those people that are trying to silence musicians”.
The Bad Seeds frontman said it was in protest of the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement that he agreed to play two shows in the country.
The band has faced criticism from outspoken critics of the Israeli government, including Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters and Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore, ahead of its shows in Tel Aviv.
In an open letter to Cave, Artists For Palestine UK – which counts Moore and Waters among its members, urged him to cancel the show “while apartheid remains”.
In a press conference in Israel, Cave said he had previously been reluctant to perform there because for a long time he did not think the band was popular there, adding: “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.”
He continued: “Eventually I got a letter three years ago from Brian Eno which asked me sign a list of people called Artists For Palestine.
“He sent me that list and 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.
“So really you could say in a way that the BDS made me play Israel.”
The band will conclude their world tour in support of album Skeleton Tree at the Menorah Arena in Tel Aviv on November 20, and Cave said he plans on “disappearing for some time” afterwards.
He added: “I’m just going to turn the internet off and just read and write, think about my work and stuff like that, stop thinking about whether I should be playing Israel or not playing Israel.”
He added: “It’s just nice to be able to go back into your home and not have to worry about all those sorts of things.
“I would say I want to make a new record and write words and stuff like that, that’s the plan. And kiss my wife.”