Activism and BDS Beat 29 June 2011
After weeks of sustained protest and outcry from punk rock supporters, Palestinian solidarity activists, and boycott campaigners, punk rock icon Jello Biafra has agreed to cancel his upcoming show in Tel Aviv, planned for next week.
Biafra had announced his decision to play the gig several weeks ago, claiming that the boycott movment against Israeli apartheid was “divided” and “not as unified” as the South African anti-apartheid movement, and therefore it didn’t really apply to him.
Today, Biafra issued a statement on his Facebook page saying that he and his band, the Guantanamo School of Medicine, are not going through with the Tel Aviv gig, but that “this does not mean that I or anyone else in the band are endorsing or joining lockstep with the boycott of all things Israel.”
I am going to Israel and Palestine to check things out myself and may yet conclude that playing for people in the belly of the beast was the right thing to do in the first place.
Biafra’s decision to cancel the Tel Aviv gig is the right one, but he still seems under the impression that the boycott is a fringe movement that he has the right to ignore.
In his statement, Biafra also concludes quite naively that if he had also booked a gig in Ramallah, in the occupied West Bank, it would have put the entire debate to rest — as though playing a show in Tel Aviv and playing a show in Ramallah would have been an equitable move. However he doesn’t understand that playing a show in Tel Aviv in the first place is a direct violation of the Palestinian-led boycott call, no matter wherever else one happens to play. If an artist performs for money in Tel Aviv, he is crossing the boycott line. And Palestinians leading the BDS call will not be placated or amused by a token gig in a ghetto bantustan in the West Bank.
And not only that, it comes off as quite racist.
We tried again and came close to landing a Ramallah show, but again, we needed to be better prepared. How fair is it to the organizers to demand a full-on rock show on a few days’ notice with a type of music they may not be familiar with? More importantly, how much are we really doing for Palestinian rights if people there don’t seem interested in our kind of music at all?
No, Jello. People are interested in your music “there.” I happen to know quite a few Palestinian punk rock fans. What they’re not interested in is you deciding to take money to play a gig in Tel Aviv, therefore breaking the BDS call. That’s the big issue.
Jello Biafra may not understand the basic foundation of what’s at the heart of the boycott movement. But at least he won’t entertain an audience in Tel Aviv.
What a wuss!
Permalink Omiso replied on
Jello shows a total lack of understanding of what's happening. Gives punks a bad name.
Permalink Jihad Punk replied on
"More importantly, how much are we really doing for Palestinian rights if people there don’t seem interested in our kind of music at all?"
"in our kind of music"??? Really, Jello? I can't even.
Permalink Karen replied on
Still a sellout. Good news he cancelled, but I have no respect for him.
Permalink Binh replied on
I guess he would've played at places that had segregated facilities in the Jim Crow south too with a clear conscience.
Jello and BDS
Permalink CQLing replied on
WOW, EXCELLENT POINT MATE! NICE ONE. PERHAPS HE WOULD HAVE DONE ONE IN THE TOWN HALL FOR THE WHITES AND ANOTHER SOMEWHERE 'OVER THERE' FOR THE .......... 'COLORDS'?
A victory for BDS
Permalink GA replied on
Each and every cancellation, is a very welcome victory for the BDS movement, regardless of the "stated" reasons. The campaign to ask Jello to cancel was amazing! In a short time, "Punks Against Apartheid" formed, many many letters were written, and this showed great ad hoc organization. A facebook page "Jello Biafra : Please Don't Play Apartheid Israel - Find Out The Facts" endeavored to educate Jello's "team," and it did a great job as well! Too bad a similar effort towards Napalm Death's concert did not receive the same result. But, a recent campaign to get August Burns Red to cancel was a huge success... but again, their stated reason was not that they joined BDS...but the great thing is BDS is being taken seriously...(esp. by the zionist entity)
Permalink Maju replied on
Almost exactly my thoughts as I read the statement. He's a fanatic Zionist that with a clear touch of cultural racism. To say this, he'd better play in Tel Aviv, because he is reinforcing the Apartheid in any case with all this Zionist BS. He seems to believe that the genocide of Palestinians and the subsequent robbery of most of Palestinian land for a exotic bunch of basically European origin is alright because they are Jews or something. I've always loved Punk music (of the Basque kind specially) but I really hate this guy for his ignorance, his arrogance and his Zionazism.
Permalink Someone replied on
A bit heavy handed I think,I know "ha ha profanity" all about the Palestinian music scene,that does not brand me racist ..and thats all he was saying ,he was being considerate,this is a victory,the bitterness here is digusting..
"a fringe movement he has a right too ignore"do you have trouble getting your big fat heads through doors,egomaniacs!everybody has the right to ignore!,there is what?6 billion on this planet?people have their own issues too,learn to except that!
The BDS comment is the only thing on this page that has'nt angered or annoyed me...before you inevitably write me off....half a little think on that,go on even thirty seconds'
Permalink Ed replied on
what a wankplanet. Too far up himself these days. Should rewrite holiday in cambodia for this.
This is good news. I only
Permalink Eddie replied on
This is good news. I only wish that the BDS campaign would have more influence over the really big musical acts; the loathsome Elton John comes to mind.
Permalink omg replied on
...we'll never have the narcissistic who-e Elton, but we have Roger Waters and Elvis Costello as well as KAJ who are much, much, cooler than Sir Reginald.
Permalink Andrew2 replied on
Agreed that cancellation is victory regardless of the stated reasons for doing so. We learned a lot from this campaign, which I think was far more strategically important than Napalm Death. Sure, he has a lot of "clash of civilizations" misconceptions about the situation, but I think he can be an important ally in the future.
Play Ramallah only...
Permalink Macdonald replied on
and anyone in Tel Aviv can drive the 40 mins to an hour to go to the show. The fact that it is impossible the other way around is the most important non-BDS fact and should be just as telling.
So pretty much
Permalink Mike2 replied on
So pretty much, have a show in the middle of no where with no body going to it. Good idea lol
Permalink Anonymous replied on
I like it!
Israeli citizens are not
Permalink Anonymous replied on
Israeli citizens are not allowed to enter Ramallah. Israeli passports are not allowed through the checkpoint. So wouldn't be able to see Jello perform over there.
Permalink Kelsonus replied on
He'll see that the boycott is based on a smear campaign
Israel surrounded by enemies
Permalink Jon replied on
No one has even heard of this guy anyway but thats besides the point. Not playing music isn't a victory, how about actually doing something productive in the form of lets say... talking about the issues and stop being so petty.
It is good that he cancelled
Permalink Brandy Baker replied on
It is good that he cancelled and that he is going to "go see for himself", but as Nora has said, his statement shows a profound ignorance of the conflict.
"I know far more about this issue than some people think I do, and I am not a poodle for Hasbara, Peace Now, BDS or anyone else."
So observing the boycott is being someone's "poodle"? Give me a break. if there is a strike at a unionized workplace, what do you say? "I am more in love with my individuality than I am with collective struggle or a greater good?"
So, why not engage with him now?
Permalink Ark B replied on
Sure he's shown a certain level of ignorance, but he's explicitly stated his intention to visit Israel-Palestine to see the situation himself.
Surely now is a time to help set his travel itinerary in Jerusalem, the West Bank, Palestinian cities in Israel, and even Gaza. If he comes back and still isn't a supporter of BDS then feel free to write him off.
I've been a lifelong advocate for justice in Palestine, but it still took me time to understand the value of BDS and its potential to succeed. The demands aren't as simple as they were in South Africa, but they are undeniably just.
When I say engage, I mean something like this, as in the case of Kareem Abdul Jabbar:
fans will stand by his decision
Permalink free gaza now replied on
He should make a plan..Play in TelAThieves ..then take all that money and throw a HUGE PARTY IN PALESTINE...maybe this will tell the LYING GOVERNMENT to GO TO HELL. the people who are Jello's fans...may follow his lead for peace and truth.
impossible to understand
Permalink Muskens replied on
I don't know the guy, so I lookes on Wiki and foud this:
"Politically, Biafra is a member of the Green Party of the United States and actively supports various political causes. He ran for the party's Presidential nomination in 2000, finishing second to Ralph Nader. He is an anarchist who advocates direct action and pranksterism in the name of political causes. Biafra is known to use absurdist media tactics, in the leftist tradition of the Yippies, to highlight issues of civil rights and social justice."
How the hell is it possible that an anarchist, which I consider myself too, is saying that ;"claiming that the boycott movment against Israeli apartheid was “divided” and “not as unified” as the South African anti-apartheid movement, and therefore it didn’t really apply to him.
Noam Chomsky is an anarchist too and I feel myself much more bound to him
Permalink nelly olson replied on
Cmon, stop making things up...jello biafra is not an anarchist....he's a rarely angry liberal green capitalist...stop distorting the ideas.
Agonizing fence-sitting is not an ethical stance
Permalink Mizhra Bell replied on
I am struck by the self-indulgence of this post. The author seems to want to convey a sense of agonized self-awareness that rings false and only evades the issues involved in the BDS movement concerning Israel. This self-indulgence is well expressed here:
"Whoever started punksagainstapartheid.com now admits it was aimed solely at one person - me. It is obvious that not everyone signing the petition has any idea who I am, or knows anything about punk, possibly the majority. The last time I looked I could only find three names of people I actually knew. Some made it clear that I will be on their bad list no matter what I do because I dared to even think of playing in Israel."
The BDS movement is not about Jello Biafra, nor is it about well-meaning Israelis, of whom there are many. It is about the Palestinian population who have been forced to live without any civil, human or political rights under brutal military occupation and creeping ethnic cleansing for 44+ years running. These facts are exceedingly well documented, publically available and, notwithstanding an unprecedented propaganda campaign, well known to everyone who pays more than passing attention to world affairs.
That Jello Biafra is among those NOT paying attention is adequately demonstrated by this extraordinarily sentence: "I can't back anyone whose real goal or fantasy is a country ethnically cleansed of Jews or anyone else." To equate ending the occupation with "ethnically cleansing" the occupied territories of Jews -- a slogan propagated by Israeli settlers and now, equivocally, adopted by Jello -- is not just naive, but moronic.
Every generation is faced with an overarching moral struggle and this is what gives history its meaning. It is also what provides reason for, variously, hope and despair, and sometimes, hope arising out of despair. The BDS movement is intended to inspire the Palestinian people to draw hope out of the well of despair. It is not intended to make performers like Jello Biafra, or individual well-meaning Israelis, feel good or validated.
Everyone of conscience is called upon to take a side in today's overarching moral struggle, which is ending Israel's occupation. Taking a side does not imply "buying into hardline absolutes." It involves becoming part of an organized movement so that it can grow and gather sufficient strength to actually accomplish something in the real world. Equivocating in itself is also taking a side; it means not adding one's voice to the collective "No" that is the simple, unequivocal message of the BDS movement. Join or don't join -- that's up to you. But please spare us the manufactured, self-serving agonizing moralism concerning your choice.
It's A Start
Permalink James replied on
Jello might not have a full understanding but at least there's some constructive thought behind it. Who knows, maybe a trip to the region will shed some light on why and what is being done to the Palestinians at the hands of the oppressive aparthied "state" of Israel. Bottom line - he ain't playing in Occupied Tel Aviv.
Where have you been, Jello Biafra?
Permalink Rudy replied on
It is a bit ridiculous that he is so uninformed at this late date. I was listening to the Dead Kennedys when I was in high school, and now, in my 40s, I have a much fuller understanding of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Where has he been all this time? But truthfully, I've never been impressed with him as a political figure.
Biafra is an overgrown
Permalink Igor Alexander replied on
Biafra is an overgrown teenager who's made a career out of peddling rebellion to white suburban middle class skateboard kids. The only people who could take Biafra seriously as a political figure are teenagers, which is why he's always targeted that demographic.
jello for brains
Permalink roamer replied on
his head has been under a rock.
Permalink billy replied on
well, jello biafra may not be up to date with the political situation of Israel and Palestine, which by no means as ever been so easy readable, by us common people...unless one keep constantly up to date and keen on reading any book or article about ...!!
But.....those who know him well, and his work too , may not claim he is not honest in what he's doing....Anyway...go and have a look at live videos on you tube..especially for the song California uber alles...may be this controversial song, would suit well to the situation running in Israel....and to others situations around the world , wherever a few minority wants to prevaricate and control other people... leaving few or any at all chances to counter -debate in a real democratic way...
Permalink Jojo replied on
Personally, I think he spent a lot of time on his letter, and to be fair, even if some of his viewpoints might be misguided, he's showing a genuine interest in learning about the situation. He did cancel the show. Cut the guy some slack.
Permalink Fragola replied on
This cancellation shows that Jello has no idea of the history of that land and of what is really happening otherwise he wouldn't have done that ignorant choice.
You should learn better the facts dear Jello!!!