Ian Anderson to boycotters: “Don’t fucking tell me what to do”

Jethro Tull are playing Israel. Their multi-talented musician and vocalist Ian Anderson was forced to respond to “some very hateful communication from people representing different sides of this ongoing issue – from supposed human rights supporters to individuals, bodies and groups … some pretty nasty stuff”.

Some artists seem to find threats persuasive, but Ian Anderson writes on Jethro Tull’s website that they will play Israel and moreover that he personally will be playing for its own sake, not for the money:

“Having performed concerts in the Middle East region many times over the last few years, I am well aware of the ethnic and religious tensions existing, not only in the countries concerned, but in the broader international diasporas representing the various groups and their interests.

Having long maintained the position that culture and the arts should be free of political and religious censorship and a distance kept between them, I took a decision in February of 2009 that any future concerts in Israel by me or Jethro Tull would result in charitable donations to bodies representing the development of peaceful co-existence between Muslims, Jews and Christians, and the fostering of better Palestinian/Israeli relations. A number of potential charitable beneficiaries have now been identified and are under consideration.

I speak only for my own share of concert profits here – I am not about to tell the rest of the musicians or crew what views they should hold or what to do with their remuneration. Nor do I feel pressured by human rights groups, national interests or any individuals to perform or not to perform in Israel or anywhere else. I make up my own mind in light of available facts, with my own experience and a sense of personal ethics.

To those who tell me I should “boycott” Israel (or, for that matter, Turkey or Lebanon), I can only point out that on my travels around the world I am continually reminded of atrocities carried out historically by many nations who are now our friends, and it serves to strengthen my resolve that some degree of peace and better understanding may result from my and other artists’ professional and humble efforts in such places. If I had the opportunity to perform today in Iran or North Korea, hell – I’d be there if I thought it would make a tiny positive net contribution to better relations.

It’s a long time since Pearl Harbor, Auschwitz, Hiroshima and the firestorm of Dresden and I hope that, one bright day sometime in the future, it will seem a long time since the blockading of the supply flotilla to Gaza and the bombing of Israeli citizens by Hamas and Hizbolla.

So, I decided many months ago not to profit from my work in this troubled region and hope that interested parties on all sides will understand and respect my decision and resolve. The details of recipients of my charitable donation will be posted for the benefit of the doubters, as usual, on this website later in the year.

Ian Anderson, June 2010.”

And since then, he says, nobody has uttered a peep. He’s also made it impossible for Jethro Tull to be co-opted for the Israeli governing coalition’s public relations. It’s really that straightforward – take courage, Elvis!

Next door neighbours got 14 year-old me into Jethro Tull and I love them still.

15 Responses to “Ian Anderson to boycotters: “Don’t fucking tell me what to do””

  1. Don’t F***ing Tell Me What To Do. « ModernityBlog Says:

    […] Engage had this gem, and many more informative posts. […]

  2. jams o donnell Says:

    Can’t say I care for Jethro Dull but good for Ian Anderson

    • Mira Vogel Says:

      Not care for….? Do not compute.

    • Jonathan Romer Says:

      It’s because that’s from back when music was real music, not this modern rubbish. Sonny.

      And yes, very good for Ian Anderson.

      (I saw him once a few years ago, live, but he was already well past his bouncing-around-the-stage-on-one-leg days. I really wish I’d made it to a Tull concert back in their heyday.)

  3. Evan Says:

    Bless you, Mr Anderson.

    I’m playing a Stand Up-Aqualung-Thick as a Brick marathon in honour of your decision. Hell, I might even give A Passion Play another spin.

  4. RedSeaPedestrian Says:

    Thank God! Tull is one of my favourite bands and I don’t know what I would have done, had they contaminated my listenining experience with the poison of BDS.

  5. Ariel H Says:

    As well as outing myself as another closet Jethro Tull fan, I’d like to add to the comments praising Ian Anderson’s attitude.

  6. Absolute Oberver Says:

    “Too old to rock n roll, too young to die”

    I should have guessed ahead of time that someone who coined that lyric would never fall victim to the anti-imperialism of fools.

    Seen from this perspective, it looks like poor Elvis is just a footnote in someone else’s novel.

  7. Jin Says:

    Anderson has lost my respect. By playing Israel he has ignored the call for non-violent boycott by the oppressed people of Palestine directed at achieving equal human and political rights and sided with the oppressor, the apartheid entity of Israel. He has besmirched the legacy of Nelson Mandela who said in his autobiography:

    ‘It was during those long and lonely years that my hunger for the freedom of my own people became a hunger for the freedom of all people, white and black. I knew as well as I knew anything that the oppressor must be liberated just as surely as the oppressed. A man who takes away another man’s freedom is a prisoner of hatred, he is locked behind the bars of prejudice and narrow-mindedness. I am not truly free if I am taking away someone else’s freedom, just as surely as I am not free when my freedom is taken from me. The oppressed and the oppressor alike are robbed of their humanity.’

  8. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    I’m sure that Ian Anderson is heartbroken at losing your respect. This assumes that he ever had it in the first place and this is not just rhetoric for the sake of getting your twopence worth in.

    And what has the Mandela quote got to do with I/P?

    Perhaps Anderson is ignoring “the call for non-violent boycott by the oppressed people of Palestine directed at achieving equal human and political rights and sided with the oppressor, the apartheid entity of Israel” is because (a) he doesn’t seem them as oppressed by Israel, but by their “own” people, the Arab states who refuse to bring pressure on the PNC to negotiate in good faith; (b) he thinks such pressure should also be brought on Hamas and Hezbollah to drop the eliminationist elements of theire respective Charters; (c) he thinks that their major sponsor, the equally eliminationiat Iran should drop _its_ stance on Israel and its funding and arming of the two previously mentioned groups; and (d) he thinks that Israel is far from being an apartheid state (and he, like lots of other South Africans who fail to view Israel as an apartheid state, should know better than you).

    Further, what evidence is there that the Palestinians have called for a boycott of any sort? Some have, but many more have called for peaceful co-existence and a two-state solution and have specifically _rejected_ any sort of boycott as counter-productive

    And, by the way, Israel is not an “entity”; it is a legitimate, and legitimately established, state, entitled, under international law, to protect both its territorial integrity and the lives of its citizens.

    Or is all this too complicated for Jin to grasp?

  9. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    By the way, clicking on Jin, above, takes you to http://www.kadaitcha.com/, run by someone called Jinjirrie, who appears to have an obsession with Israel and apartheid. The second item on the blog is headlined “Before You Propose – Consider Israel and its Blood Diamonds”. The first words on the little text there is are “End Israel apartheid…” No argument, no statistics, just a video link, which I didn’t watch: video links, unless they are from a reputable mainstream media organisation, are unlikely to carry anything resembling a reasonable argument , let alone facts and figures.

    No suggestion that there might be others in the world involved with blood diamonds and that such people might be causing massive havoc with _their_ blood diamonds. I’d alos be pleased if anyone can point me to hard evidence that Israel is involved with blood diamonds – at an official, state level, not some unaffiliated Israeli dabbling in such illegality.

    I don’t suppose Jin can supply this info can he?

  10. Thomas Venner Says:

    Obviously he isn’t concerned with any of this silly “proof” or “hard evidence” nonsense. If a negative claim is made about Israel, it is true, full stop, from trafficking in blood diamonds to causing the cancellation of Doctor Who in 1989.

    And Jin – don’t let that pesky 74% of Palestinians who reject the “one-state solution” and are happy to see Israel continue to exist alongside their own independent state, or all the Palestinian trade unionists who’ve built strong cross-border ties with their Israeli counterparts bother you. After all, any good anti-Zionist knows that the “genuine and authentic voice of Palestine” is the gang of fascist thugs who hold Gaza’s throat in their loving, peaceful, progressive grasp.

  11. Mike Leigh’s appearances « Engage – the anti-racist campaign against antisemitism Says:

    […] Ian Anderson to boycotters: “Don’t fucking tell me what to do” […]

  12. Cynthia and Jello « Greens Engage Says:

    […] Ian Anderson to boycotters: don’t fucking tell me what to do […]

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