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 They have withdrawn, and it seems that no explanation is required: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.

5 Responses to “Shame about The Pixies”

  1. Evan Says:

    Face it, the “indie cool” counts for a lot these days. I suppose many in the indie crowd would have felt personally betrayed that a favourite band was going to sell its soul to the Zionist devil…

  2. Thomas Venner Says:

    If they’re apologising, and talking about “events beyond their control”, maybe they’re not actually boycotting Israel. It could be anything. Obviously those who support the boycott will be claiming this as a victory for their side whatever the case, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that this was the band’s intention. Does anyone have any information that shows for certain either way?

    • Bill Says:

      From the Beeb story:

      However, organisers said the decision was linked to Israel’s deadly raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla last week.

      I am surprised though how The “alternative” and “indy” Pixies would be more discrete as to any connection to Gaza and their withdrawal than more mainstream Costello.

      • Danny Says:

        What ??? Costello’s waaay indier than the Pixies … boycotting’s a lame cop out, If acts like the Pixies and Costello held such strong political views they would play Israel and voice them on stage to kids who look up to them. these are the kids in the position to apply preasure which could bring change, way more than some liberal hipster studying at UCLA on an Israel=Apartheid protest march
        Do you honestly think the Israeli government give a hoot about these so called obscure Indie bands’ refusals to play there when they still got Elton John and Rod Stewart?

  3. Ian Anderson to boycotters: “Don’t fucking tell me what to do” « Engage – the anti-racist campaign against antisemitism Says:

    […] artists seem to find threats persuasive, but Ian Anderson writes on Jethro Tull’s website that they […]

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