Jello 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.