Shame about The Pixies

Along with the usual sordid feeling I get when walking along to Black Francis’ Bluefinger, as this evening, it occurred to me to wonder if The Pixies would go ahead in Israel.

The answer turned out to be no. They have withdrawn, and it seems that no explanation is required:

“We’d like to extend our deepest apologies to the fans but events beyond all our control have conspired against us.”

It doesn’t make sense that fans both deserve to be boycotted and deserve an apology, but then again the boycott doesn’t makes sense itself so it’s no wonder…

I know Elvis Costello, explaining his boycott decision, saw fit to say nothing at length, but I can’t understand why boycotters mumble and don’t look you in the eye when they boycott. If they don’t have clear principles about this which they are prepared to defend, how can they justify boycotting their Israeli fans? Surely in order to boycott, you have to have a clear idea about what Israel has done wrong and what you want it to do differently, an idea you can articulate to differentiate yourself from campaigners who hate just the idea of the Jewish state. Or doesn’t anybody mind about that these days?

And if The Pixies aren’t interested in justifications but are primarily concerned about dodging negative publicity, then they need the integrity to realise that this negative publicity comes not from performing in Israel, but from boycotters who are exploiting an ill-conceived and self-serving strategy. This strategy of boycott has no means for achieving its aims on behalf of Palestinians, depends on making people who already feel hated and voted to the right, feel more despised, and worse, holds Israelis solely responsible for their conflicts.

Does anybody think that this Israeli response to The Pixies’ cancellation looks remotely conducive to conflict resolution?

As in the case of Elvis Costello, it is certainly within The Pixies’ power to perform in Israel and resist anybody who tries to appropriate their presence as support for Israeli policies. It’s no more that than their U.S. dates indicate support for the occupation of Iraq.

So I tend to think that this latest boycott is just about The Pixies, their PR and a quiet life.

Confront wh…?

At Shiraz Socialist, Jim Denham tells of a letter the Morning Star (circulation hard to gauge) saw fit to publish advocating a Jewish witch hunt:

Friday 04 June 2010

Bernard Ogley (M Star June 2) is correct in advocating a total boycott of all Israeli goods and services – and not just the current fragmented efforts centring on those from illegal settlements in the occupied territories.

However, to be truly effective such a boycott needs to extend both to cultural and sporting boycotts and demonstrations – note the recent disruption of a concert by the Jerusalem Quartet, all of whom are ex-members of the IDF – and the peaceful confrontation with zionism in our own workplaces, communities and even our trade unions.

Too many on the “progressive” wing of British politics remain enamoured with a highly fictionalised account of the early years of the state of Israel and remain deluded as to how reactionary the likes of the Israeli Labour Party and trade union federation Histadrut both were then and certainly are now.

To be a zionist needs to become as shameful a position as being in favour of apartheid South Africa.

Paul Simon


See Jim’s response.

I’m not sure how many colleagues with similar views (there are a few) would feel entitled to actually go through with this but just for the record, Jewish history compels me to be sympathetic about Jews’ claim to a way of exerting control over their own security matters, namely a state. Only a history-in-the-making where antisemitism was consistently routed could suggest otherwise. But there isn’t a history-in-the-making like that, so the only conversation worth having is about what is justifiable self-defence and why, what not and why, and how the situation could be improved. If that makes me a Zionist by the reckoning of most anti-Zionists (or affirmed Zionists for that matter) I don’t mind.

I could be persuaded into a confrontation scenario with any colleague who buys my lunch. Apart from that I’m busy and may respond unpredictably if confronted in transit. If anybody wants to involve me in their genuinely pro-Palestinian work I am, as ever, interested.

HT Bob, who has more in the wake of the Gaza flotilla.