This 20-year ritual feels like a long déjà vu; every summer, an announcement goes out that Morrissey, former lead singer of The Smiths and key new wave musician, is coming to Israel, and every year the Israeli audience is once again disappointed by the last-minute cancellation.
Perhaps this ritual will end this year. After long negotiations between the musician’s managers and producer Shuki Weiss, a single performance has been booked for July 29 in Tel-Aviv. The venue has yet to be determined, but the producers swear: This time it’s for real.
In an exclusive interview with Yedioth Ahronoth, Morrissey said he had never been to Israel and was very excited. He has been trying to make it here for so many years now, he noted, but his last two albums have been so successful, his tours in the US and Europe left him no time to come to Israel. As soon as he found an opening in his schedule, he jumped at the opportunity.
Today, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz revealed your video message to the Israeli public, confirming your performance in Tel Aviv on July 29, 2008 . You end your message with the words “God bless Israel, stay nice!” This message and your planned Israel gig are indicators of either a serious lack of understanding of what Israel is or a conscious bias towards Israel, despite its colonial and apartheid reality. Celebrating Israel, as you plan to do, at a time when it is persistently committing war crimes and other grave breaches of international humanitarian law in the occupied Palestinian territory, particularly in Gaza, is an act of complicity in maintaining Israel’s illegal occupation and regime of racial dscrimination against the people of Palestine.
It is ironic that your persistent affection for outsiders and misfits has often driven you to write in their voices. Someone hated, rejected and violently attacked by a racist, nationalistic society has her point of view expressed in these lyrics, which you wrote:
We’re old news
Say BBC scum
One child shot, but so what?
Laid my son
In a box, three feet long
And I still don’t know why
A short walk home becomes a run
And I’m scared
In my own country
Singing in Tel Aviv despite the fact that more than 800 Palestinian children have been killed—many in a willful manner—by the Israeli occupation army and settlers in the past 7 years alone would effectively tell us, in our faces: “One Palestinian child shot, but so what?”
This year, Israel celebrates the 60th anniversary of its establishment over the ruins of another country, Palestine. With the creation of this state sixty years ago, three quarters of a million Palestinians were dispossessed and uprooted from their homes and lands, condemned to a life of exile and destitution.
Israel at 60 is a state that is still denying Palestinian refugees their UN-sanctioned rights, simply because they are “non-Jews.” It is still illegally occupying Palestinian and other Arab lands, in violation of numerous UN resolutions. In the occupied Palestinian territory (OPT), Israel is continuing the construction of its colonies and massive Wall in direct violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention as well as the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) of July 2004. It is still persistently and grossly breaching international law and infringing fundamental human rights with impunity afforded to it through munificent US and European economic, diplomatic and political support. It is still treating its own Palestinian citizens with institutionalized discrimination.
In 2006, virtually all leading Palestinian artists and cultural figures have called for an international cultural boycott of Israel . To date, many leading international cultural figures, including Ken Loach and John Berger, and some artists’ unions, like the Irish Aosdana, have heeded the Palestinian Call and shunned Israel, just as they boycotted apartheid South Africa.
On December 3, 2007, you said “I abhor racism and oppression or cruelty of any kind and will not let this pass without being absolutely clear and emphatic with regard to what my position is. Racism is beyond common sense and I believe it has no place in our society.”
It is “absolutely clear” that your performance in Israel would betray a regrettable double standard, if not a categorical negation of those noble ideals.