Caught in the Crossfire: Should Musicians Boycott Israel?

Jello-BiafraJello Biafra, musician, speaker, record label director, and Green Party politician, writes for Al Jazeera English:

So now I have been to Israel. I have also been to Palestine. I got a taste of the place, but not in the way I’d originally hoped.In many ways I really wish my band, Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo School of Medicine, had played in Tel Aviv. But I also share most of the boycott’s supporters’ feelings about Israel’s government, the occupation and ongoing human rights violations.

I hope people take the time to understand how deeply this has torn at the fabric of our band. The promoter in Tel Aviv lost thousands, and I am eating thousands more in lost and re-booked airfares that I have no idea how I am going to pay, or how I will pay my bills for the rest of the year. Real human beings got hurt here.

This whole controversy has been one of the most intense situations of my life – and I thrive on intense situations. But the rest of the band was not used to this. How fair was it to drag them there in the first place? This is not like fighting Tipper Gore and the Los Angeles Police Department, greedy ex-Dead Kennedys members or more-radical-than-thou thugs who think it’s OK to put someone in the hospital for being a “sellout”. I gradually felt like I had gotten in over my head sticking my nose into one of the longest and nastiest conflicts on earth.

So with the rollercoaster still in my stomach and my head, I flew solo to Israel instead. The mission: to check things out myself and hopefully at least get closer to some kind of conclusion on whether artists boycotting Israel, especially me, was really the best way to help the Palestinian people.

The first people who wrote asking us to boycott went out of their way to be diplomatic and communicate how they felt. Then the gloves came off, and so did some of the masks. Our Facebook page went from eye-opening and educational to a childish, bickering orgy between a handful of people. Racial slurs began to appear on this and other boycott sites. Many writings seemed to have no idea who I was or what punk is. One called me a “fanatic Zionist with a clear touch of cultural racism”…

Read more here.

  • Anton Fjordson

    boycott planet earth.

    • Zenc

      Let’s see how “Occupy Earth” goes before we do that.

      • Redacted

        Lets boycott oxygen! I’ll go first!

        • Anarchy Pony

          It’s been an hour, still alive?

      • DeepCough

        I get the feeling that December 21, 2012 is our Date of Eviction.

        • Anarchy Pony

          Hopefully the benevolent aliens will come and fix all our problems with their godlike technological powers.

  • Nat

    I say we just completely ignore the conflict, and let them both do what they do. Fuck ’em. I don’t care about the Israeli’s or the Palestinians. 

    • Jin The Ninja

      isolationism has never worked as a policy historically, nor is it at all desirable in a post-globalised world.

      • emperorreagan

        I think in this case, a little American isolationism would be helpful.

        Considering that American dollars fund the Israeli military, we sell/they steal technology to support said military, and the US is one of the big funding sources for all of those illegal settlements that continuously make any path towards resolution more difficult.

        • Andrew

          Most of the world would benefit from more American isolationism.

        • Jin The Ninja

          There is a big difference between not supporting- militarily or financially a corrupt and genocidal state and ‘isolationism’ as a policy which would prevent the exertion of int’l legal pressures on said state (via the UN or otherwise). I agree that the world could do with end of the US empire (and US imperialism), and US-backed corrupt states- But the OP is suggesting “ignoring” the conflict, which is partially (or largely) derived from US influence, which i think in foreign policy and moral terms is grossly irresponsible.

    • Eric_D_Read

      Exactly. There is only one way to settle the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Thunderdome!

  • saint_al

    Short answer: yes. They want to drag the US into paying & fighting for a war they create. There’s a treaty involved here.
    “What Would Jello Do?”

    • Chaorder Gradient


  • Jaredsynn00

    Real people are gettinh hurt, you twat, not your bands revenue, but human biengs, sorry but your post lost all redeeming qualities when you whine about your money being lost, youre a greedy cunt.

  • arfer

    Jello types like he talks. Forever! I love him.

  • Db’s

    As much as I love Jello, he’s just so naive… just a bit over the average dumb american.

    • gwen jackson

       I know, I clicked in anticipation of something insightful. What a letdown.

  • gwen jackson

    What a bunch of self-absorbed bullshit masquerading as political concern. What a poseur. Fucking glad he can’t pay his bills, that’s what he gets for sticking his nose in where he had no business in a half-hearted attempt to seem relevant and edgy. Go back to LA and shut the fuck up.