Anarchist and punker Jello Biafra and his band, The Guantanamo School of Medicine, are coming to perform in Israel. I’m not going to get into how is it that an anarchist tries to get elected for president of the American empire, I’ll just focus on the issue at hand.
Ironically enough, about a week before Jello made a really bad public statement (we’ll get to that in a moment), PACBI issued a clear cut statement to address all kinds of excuses that we’ve been hearing since the inception of the movement, seven years ago:
- We Do Not Know Enough to Take a Political Position – We Need to See for Ourselves
- Why Not Boycott Other Human Rights Offenders Too?
- We Do Not Think BDS is in Palestinian Best Interest
The Deadly Sin of Vanity
I have only one disagreement with PACBI. They say it’s inconsistency and logical incoherence, I think it’s also the vanity of the celebrity status. After speaking with PACBI members, Biafra and co. decided to blow off PACBI and fortunately were vain enough to publish their letter on their Facebook page. Here it is in full:
Jello’s letter to the Palestine Solidarity Campaign
by Jello Biafra and the GuantanamoSchool of Medicine on Tuesday, June 7, 2011 at 5:42pm
Thank you for your letter. Believe me, the decision to play in Tel Aviv was not taken lightly by me or the band. We have been through weeks of intense ongoing debate and discussions, soul searching and research. We have met with two peace activists, one of whom is Palestinian and lives in Ramallah. Our thoughts at present are these:
- The more we know about the many sides to this horrible conflict, the more we realize we don’t know.
- It certainly appears that both the Israeli Left and the Palestinian Left are divided right down the middle as to whether this kind of a boycott is a good idea at all. It is nowhere near as solid or as unified as the boycott against apartheid South Africa. Setting foot in Israel does not automatically make us supporters of the Netanyahu regime or the policies we all oppose. Quite the opposite, in fact.
- I agree with Peace activists who have said how important it is for someone like me to actually go there and see for myself what is really going on. Then, back home in America, I will be able to speak more knowledgeably from eyewitness experience, at a time when most Americans only get their information from dumbed down, censored corporate McNews. It was never our intention to play the gig, hang out at the beach, and go home. After the gig I am staying around for several days. Am I going to Palestine too? Absolutely.
We know this issue is so multifaceted and volatile that no matter what I or the band do, someone is going to be upset. Sort of the story of my life, in a way. I hope that by making this trip we can in some small way help bring down that goddamn wall.
For peace and justice,
And as if that wasn’t bad enough, Jello Bifra and the Guantanamo School of Medicine are planning on documenting their BDS breaking process (note the subtle “generic” Arab music).
I’ll give this to our anarchist friends- there is a learning process: The working title, as you can see, has changed in the past few days from “Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo School of Medicine Go to Israel” to “Jello Biafra Visits the Holy Lands”. Hopefully, by the time the concert comes, Biafra and co. will be able to say Palestine.
No, It’s Not Different when JELLO BIAFRA Goes to Israel
Really, it’s as if every artist/”intellectual” that comes here has their celebrity status so deep up their arse that it reaches their head. Jello Biafra will be just another band that came in with the endless influx of others. How many times can it be repeated [1,2,3,4…] that when celebrities of this caliber perform in Israel, they give it the appearance of a normal place where musicians come to perform and share their art, and it’s this appearance that Israel uses in its propaganda machine, to cover up war crimes and crimes against humanity?
These celebrities are given the opportunity to resist in solidarity (not like an individualist-anarchist), but they, in fact, do exactly as Israel wants: Artists will perform here and say nothing. Or they’ll say something and maybe that’ll make a headline or two. As far as this government is concerned that just assists Israel in seeming like a “robust democracy”, which allows artists to say as they wish. I don’t usually assume about people’s personal motives, but I doubt Biafra the anarchist wants to be any government’s fig leaf.
I want to add that as an anarchist, it’s infuriating when Biafra identifies as an anarchist and doesn’t even check to see what anarchist culture in the region is about (or his region for that matter). So on a personal note to Biafra: Anarchists here are engrossed in the struggle. Come and meet them, but they won’t be the ones coming to your show, I assure you. But hey! Peace Now might.
One Gig for Jello Biafra in Tel Aviv- Another Blow to Palestinian Liberation
It has to be said; This is not about “angering a few people” or appeasing fans- to the left or to the right. This is about furthering the civil society solution that Palestinians are most united around in the history of this bloody occupation. The sin of vanity isn’t deadly for Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo School of Medicine, of course, but it is deadly for Palestinian children, women and men.
The good news is that every band that boycotts makes a hundred times more noise than every band that comes here. That’s how effective BDS is. Movements start from somewhere. I’m sure the first few hundreds that were asked to boycott apartheid South Africa felt like it wasn’t “solid or unified”. By coming to Israel for a round of applause and- more often than not- a wad of cash, artists and academics don’t help to solidify and unify the movement. One thing is for sure; The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement is a solid, unified international movement.