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 They have withdrawn, and it seems that no explanation is required: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

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