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I'm One Of 1000 UK Artists Boycotting Israel. Here’s Why
Samir Eskanda , June 22nd, 2015 20:29

As Thurston Moore, Miss Lauryn Hill and Primus become the latest to cancel shows in Tel Aviv, British-Palestinian musician Samir Eskanda makes the case for the boycott, with contributions from Moore and Jean-Hervé Peron of Faust. Photos by Valerio Berdini

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In 2009, a couple of weeks after the end of Israel’s massacres in Gaza, dubbed "Operation: Cast Lead", I decided to adopt the Palestinian call for boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against the state of Israel. The three-week assault, which served as the model for last summer's rampage, was carried out on the pretext of ending erratic rocket fire from the besieged Gaza strip. In reality it represented an escalation of the daily violence committed by Israeli occupation forces against a relatively defenceless civilian population, themselves mostly refugees from previous rounds of aggression.

Fourteen hundred Palestinians were killed, mostly civilians, including at least 308 children. Thousands of innocent people were injured, disabled for life, or orphaned, traumatised and made homeless. The carnage comprised of various war crimes, including the use of white phosphorous, the mass killings of near-entire families, the shooting of women and children waving white flags and the destruction of schools and pre-schools. Israel, whose military spokespeople claimed self-defence, lost ten soldiers and three civilians to home-made rockets and friendly fire.

The asymmetry of the situation was demonstrated beyond any doubt and I was struck by a certainty: any acts of individual resistance should find expression through the global solidarity movement, and had to incorporate the burgeoning BDS tactic. The Palestinian-led call is for the economic, cultural and academic boycotts of Israel and complicit institutions. It is worth mentioning that as a citizen of the Jewish state (along with 1.7 million other Palestinians) I can be sued for publicly adopting this position, and there are other legal moves to prohibit the use of this protest.

The news that over 900 UK-based artists had pledged to boycott Israel, (a number that has now reached over 1000) was welcomed by Palestinian rights supporters early this year. The ad hoc collective includes Brian Eno, Robert Wyatt, Jarvis Cocker, Roger Waters, Matthew Herbert and Una Baines, as well as poets Kate Tempest and Benjamin Zephaniah, directors Mike Leigh, Peter Kosminsky, Julien Temple, Ken Loach, Carol Morley and Leila Sansour, actors Maxine Peake, Prunella Scales, Miriam Margolyes and Rizwan Ahmed, comedians Alexei Sayle, Jeremy Hardy and Mark Thomas, writers John Berger, Victoria Brittain, Laurie Penny, Michael Rosen, Adhaf Soueif and Bonnie Greer, artist Bob and Roberta Smith and other cultural workers from all fields.

The pledge itself is sensible enough:

"We support the Palestinian struggle for freedom, justice and equality. In response to the call from Palestinian artists and cultural workers for a cultural boycott of Israel, we pledge to accept neither professional invitations to Israel, nor funding, from any institutions linked to its government until it complies with international law and universal principles of human rights."

The Artists for Palestine UK website goes on: "APUK recognises that Israel has, since 1948, denied fundamental human rights to the Palestinian people; that dispossession, colonisation, land annexation, illegal settlement and military aggression are habitually deployed by the Israeli state without it facing sanction, or any threat of sanction, from Western governments.

"Israel deliberately undermines Palestinian cultural expression while marketing its own cultural output worldwide, thus attempting to cast a veil over its violations of human rights and international law. We think that Israel’s campaign to exploit culture as a diplomatic weapon, the ‘Brand Israel’ strategy, requires an urgent response from artists of conscience."

Given that Palestinian rights have been systematically denied in a seven-decade-long campaign of dispossession, we must consider why that "urgent response" should take the form of a boycott. Part of the answer lies in history. Non-violent resistance movements have employed the tactic successfully, perhaps most famously against the segregated buses of Montgomery in 1950’s America as part of the broader civil rights movement (buses that found their successors in the West Bank), and more recently against apartheid South Africa, forming a key part of the struggle that eventually led to Nelson Mandela’s long walk to freedom.

The comparisons are more revealing than might first appear. All three systems – US segregation, South African apartheid and Israeli hafrada (the Hebrew for Israel's particular version of imposed "separateness") – codify racial discrimination. Israeli lawmakers merely updated and made more sophisticated the previous incarnations. When white supremacists in South Africa needed a good word for their brand of legalised racism, they realised ‘segregation’ was accurate but already too emotive - not to mention taken - and so settled on ‘apartheid’ (literally: apart-hood). Anti-apartheid leader Archbishop Desmond Tutu is among many South Africans who have consistently made the comparison with Israel’s system of institutionalised oppression.

Perhaps the most important reason to boycott is because the call itself comes from Palestinian civil society, not political or religious factions, but from federations of unions and other organisations representing ordinary people from virtually every walk of life, including teachers, farmers, writers, students, dentists, filmmakers, engineers, dancers, journalists, professors and musicians. It is the broadest possible expression of the will of a civilian population, based on universal principles of human rights, in the attempt to end decades of occupation, colonisation and structural discrimination.

Paradoxically, opponents of BDS frequently claim that any boycott of Israel - no matter its basis in international law - is inherently motivated by anti-Semitic prejudice. This claim is as baseless as it is dangerous. Guidelines relating to the academic and cultural boycotts are unequivocal in their opposition to any form of bigotry, positions headlined by the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) and others. The movement, an attempt to end racist, systemic discrimination, does not target individuals according to their nationality or beliefs, and as such is incompatible with any form of racism, including anti-Semitism and Islamophobia. When Zionists falsely equate this nonviolent resistance movement with anti-Semitism, it can only serve to undermine sincere efforts to challenge racism of all kinds, in Israel and elsewhere.

While some British musicians have been vocal in their rejection of the boycott, perhaps most notably Ride’s Mark Gardener, many have refused to play in Israel, including those who cancelled shows that were already booked. In one example, Klaxons were amongst several groups who pulled Tel Aviv performances in 2010, in the wake of Israel's killing of ten unarmed civilians on the Gaza aid flotilla, the Mavi Marmara. Jamie Reynolds told me soon after: "I'm certain that we made the right decision regardless of the barrage of hate mail."

This year Thurston Moore cancelled his band's scheduled performance in Tel Aviv, without giving an official explanation, leading to speculation in the Israeli press that it was due to the boycott. He wrote to me at the time that through private dialogue with other artists and activists, he had undergone something of a "conscientious decision process". This resulted in his endorsement of the Palestinian call for solidarity in their struggle for, in his words, "empowerment through choice of non-violent activism". I later asked him to expand on the reasons behind his decision:

"Since it was founded in 2005 I have honored the Palestinian BDS call by not accepting offers to perform in Israel, though all the while having the inherent belief in the importance of bringing music, art, education (love) to friends. With cursory knowledge of the boycott's principles and not exactly concurring with the aspects of requesting certain limitations on cultural exchange I reconsidered and accepted a kind offer from promoters in Tel Aviv (as announced for April 2015).

"It was with serious deliberation that I eventually arrived at the personal conclusion that to perform with my band in Israel was in direct conflict to my values. With the realization that a cultural and academic boycott is central to its purpose in exposing a reality of brutal human rights violations – including those accompanying Israel's discriminatory laws and occupation of the West Bank - I felt the need, with humility, to cancel the engagement.

"Subsequently the choice to play in Tel Aviv, while a boycott based on principles of non-violence exists, initiated for me an active study and contemplation in which emerged an enlightenment of personal judgment. This is in admiration to the fans, friends and neighbors who have engaged me in discussing the complicity of crossing this very real line of protest.

"With apology and thanks to everyone I work with professionally, as this decision incurs difficult rectification, and to every individual with a wish to hear us play live, I've made the decision, with certitude, to fully acknowledge the dedication of the boycott until the time comes for it to be unnecessary."

He added: "When Sonic Youth played Tel Aviv in 1996 it was an amazing, wonderful experience and education. I hope to return soon."

The last comments are particularly apt, for the boycott does not exist in perpetuity but has specific aims, namely, an end to the occupation, equality for Palestinian citizens of Israel, and the implementation of the right of return of the refugees ethnically cleansed from their land and homes in 1947-48. Distinct from censorship, which seeks to suppress ideas or aesthetic, the boycott aims to hold to account a rogue state, one that enjoys impunity, encouragement and material support from the governments of the West in its ongoing crimes against humanity. Acts of solidarity such as joining the boycott are never negative or passive, but in fact are strongly communicative protests.

By contrast to these acts of resistance, last summer, at the height of Israel’s brutal seven-week military campaign, our very own David Cameron reaffirmed his "staunch support" for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s assault, as the US quite literally replenished his munitions. The relationship between Western powers and Israel is one of extensive collusion too detailed to go into here; it's enough to point out the USA's more than $100 billion in aid to Israel and the UK's central role in its establishment. The abject failure of powerful governments to challenge Israeli apartheid, siege and occupation, means it falls on the shoulders of ordinary people to organise against oppression.

Founding member of Jesus and Mary Chain and film director Douglas Hart has refused professional engagements in Israel in the past. I asked him why.

"Who in their right mind would have performed in South Africa during the Apartheid era? However you wish to term what is happening to Palestinians at the hands of the Israeli state, or whether you agree or disagree with the parallels between apartheid South Africa and Israel's occupation of Palestine, you can't deny the abject suffering of the Palestinian people, and the obscene iniquity between the quality of lives of Palestinians and Israelis. We have to do anything we can to change it."

Palestinians face overwhelming challenges, particularly in the form of an extremist, right-wing Israeli government committed to entrenching ethnocracy, one prepared to employ extreme violence in its efforts, but they are challenges which must be overcome in order to achieve self-determination. Yet the counter-argument is often made that Israel should be regarded as a force for democratic values in the region, if not as "the only democracy in the Middle East", and treated accordingly, rather than subjected to boycotts and labelled with pariah status. This has been a useful diversion.

Israel could only be founded as a Jewish-majority state through a programme of ethnic cleansing, a concerted campaign of usurpation involving massacres, intimidation, and wholesale theft of land, property, bank accounts, art and literature, which caused the flight of the majority of the native Palestinian population in what is known across the Arabic-speaking world as the Nakba, or catastrophe. Israelis see the establishment of their settler-colonial state as the "war of independence" and deny the historical fact of the Nakba at every possible official, legal and cultural level.

That a parliamentary system of democracy now exists within a state that expelled its indigenous inhabitants for not being Jewish, and which still upholds that system through racist laws that prohibit those refugees from returning to their own homes, does not a democracy make. Israeli lawmakers and commentators flit between obsessing over the ‘demographic threat’ posed by Palestinian babies – one well known scholar and government advisor Arnon Soffer is nicknamed "the Arab-counter" - and openly calling for genocide. Given the incessant violence and ongoing dispossession, Palestinians see the Nakba as continuing to this day.

In the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, Israel restricts every aspect of the lives of 2.7 million Palestinians. Travel, education, work, housing, legal rights, freedom of expression and anything else you can think of are ruled by the military occupation forces, or IDF (Israel Defence Forces) as they’re known outside of Palestine. Children are routinely abducted and interrogated day and night, shackled in foreign prisons, coerced to sign confessions in a language they do not know and are subject to systematic physical abuse. Meanwhile, half a million Israeli settlers live on illegal colonies, travel on Jewish-only roads and monopolise scarce resources, protected by the same military that subjugates their Palestinian neighbours.

Jean-Hervé Péron, founding member of Faust, was unaware of the boycott when he played in Tel Aviv in 2007 (and he remains undecided). While in Israel, a human rights organisation invited him to visit the West Bank. I asked him to recount his experiences.

"This day turned out to be the most 'terrible' day of my life... I mean 'terrible' in its proper meaning: appalling, shocking, emotionally unbearable.

"The bus we travelled in was stopped so many times, soldiers barking at us; in a street, all windows were shut and welded blind with sheets of metal.

"Everywhere was hatred, hostility, violence, aggression from the Israeli settlers. Everywhere was despair, fright, helplessness in the eyes of the Palestinians.

"I managed to slip away from our group and get into a district where obviously no-one was supposed to enter. I walked deserted streets but felt heavily observed, so I sat down on a house porch and waited. Soon a young boy appeared. I asked him for coffee. After a few hesitations and me stupidly repeating with a smile "kawa, choukran?" (coffee, thank you?), the little one decided I must be nuts but harmless and took me to his parents house. I cannot express well what I felt but it was extremely moving: they had not much to offer, but it was given with warmth, grace, honourably.

"They told me in broken English and broken French how life was on their side: No work, no school, no stores, no freedom of movement.

"I was not dreaming, I was not reading an horror-fiction book, no, all was real, all was now. I rejoined the group and my guide took me to another family, closer to the Israeli settlements: I was told more horrible stories. We returned to Tel Aviv where I broke down in tears in my hotel room... I felt useless, helpless, worthless...

"Is boycott the answer?"

Within Israel itself, roughly one-fifth the population is Palestinian, the descendants of those who survived the ethnic cleansing of 1947-48, representing perhaps as little as 15% of the original population of Palestine and subject to yet another, more subtle system of control. There are scores of discriminatory laws that ensure that Palestinian citizens of Israel remain unable to gain anything like an equal foothold in society, condemned to citizenry without full rights, in a state whose leaders openly incite hatred and violence against them.

This is not democracy. It’s not even close. This is why Palestinians have called for people of the world to end their economic, cultural and academic complicity in these crimes. This means not buying Israeli produce, or from companies who profit from the occupation, refusing professional or academic engagements in Israel and not working with projects that are funded by Israeli government ministries, until Palestinians' rights under international law are recognised. The director of the UK-based Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Sarah Colborne (who was onboard the Mavi Marmara), gave me their position on the Palestinian boycott call:

"The Israeli regime is an apartheid regime. It has constructed a huge wall and checkpoints in the West Bank to segregate Palestinians from the Israeli settlers who have stolen their land, and it holds Gaza under siege to prevent Palestinians from leaving and to prevent food, medicines and construction materials from entering."

"The Palestinian people have called on the world to boycott Israel, including a cultural boycott, until it ends its occupation of their land and the oppression of their people. As people of conscience, who stand against racism and apartheid, the only moral response we can have to that call is to heed it."

The boycott is just one way that anyone, anywhere can express their solidarity with Palestinians, to contribute towards justice and begin to agitate for peace. I believe that musicians have a particular responsibility to not allow their work to be co-opted, especially not by a rogue state that aims to divert attention from its ongoing crimes against humanity. But refusing to engage with institutions and corporations complicit in those crimes is something we can all do.


Jun 22, 2015 9:12am

I think this thing really gets recognized when big business is affected, unfortunately. It is important to raise awareness for that to happen.

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Tim Sheridan
Jun 22, 2015 10:40am

nice to see a publication taking a stance in a very wishy-washy age.

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stevie
Jun 22, 2015 10:44am

I wish you didn't use the word "Israelis" instead of "Israel" or "establishment". Many Israelis do not agree with the actions of their government and state, more and more with recent events and terrible elections, and some are consequence-suffering activists against the hegemony of the State's narrative.

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John Doran
Jun 22, 2015 10:46am

Without wanting to state the obvious - libellous and offensive posts will be removed without explanation.

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Samir Eskanda
Jun 22, 2015 10:50am

In reply to stevie:

Thanks for the feedback Stevie, but I do know this very well. I've just checked my usage of the term and I believe I've applied it correctly. If you could point out where you think I've unfairly lumped Israelis in general in with the government I'd be grateful.

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Ciaran
Jun 22, 2015 11:16am

A very interesting and thought provoking read.

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Hannah
Jun 22, 2015 11:20am

Great to see this covered in The Quietus.

It's so important for artists, academics and other cultural workers to get involved in the boycott (speaking myself as an academic working in this area, who was hesitant about it at first). It's a real way we can make a difference and show support, and I've been excited to see the traction its been getting lately. The person commenting earlier about how boycotts only make a difference when they affect business is missing the point. The cultural boycott has an end in and of itself, which is to disrupt the way in which Israel uses culture strategically to 'normalise' its image internationally, and garner Western support by appearing 'like us'. See also: pinkwashing and greenwashing, and the IDF's use of social media for PR.

It's really tempting for us to think of art and culture as things which 'transcend' politics and allow us to 'build bridges'. Indie music and its fans have a real head in the sand elitist tendency to think of ourselves as above all this stuff, hence the shock and resistance any time someone legitimately points out sexism or racism in our culture. But if we ignore the boycott then we're ignoring the Palestinian call and facilitating Israel's aims.

I don't comment on articles very much, but I expect you're going to get quite a bit of hate mail (some of it possibly organised) and I wanted to counter that by expressing my support for what you've written.

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Hannah
Jun 22, 2015 11:41am

A thing here that I would criticise, even while I agree with the thrust of the article, is the repeated use of the term 'rogue state'. It assumes that violence against minorities is somehow an exception to the 'correct' functioning of a modern state, rather than, as Agamben points out, entirely the norm, and a fundamental part of sovereignty.

It's this same opposition between democratic, capitalist states and supposed terrorist/rogue/outlaw ones that Israel cynically uses to claim legitimacy and sympathy, and America uses to justify its imperial operations abroad. Not a great way to argue for the Palestinian cause! Better to be more sceptical of the institutions and discourses of the nation-state.

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Samir Eskanda
Jun 22, 2015 11:50am

In reply to Hannah:

Hannah, thanks for your sensitive and intelligent comments, especially about pinkwashing, and about indie music tending to see itself "above" politics. I agree with everything you wrote. Thanks also for your constructive criticism (unlike some personally abusive comments that have been deleted by admin). You're absolutely correct about "rogue states", I'll be more cautious about some of my terminology in future.

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Hannah
Jun 22, 2015 12:14pm

In reply to Samir Eskanda:

Hi Samir, thanks for taking the time to reply, and for the gracious response to my criticism. Sorry to hear about the abusive comments, sadly they seem to come with the territory (for now, at least). Thanks to admins (John?) for their unseen work keeping the discussion polite and productive. I was really inspired to see this popping up on my newsfeed, hope it's the start of more Quietus coverage!

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Oppose the boycott
Jun 22, 2015 12:43pm

Very disappointing but depressingly familiar that Quietus is happy to promote this deluded, bigoted, discredited and supremacist agenda. The Israel boycotters do not want equal human rights for Palestinians instead their real aim is the anihilation of Israel as a Jewish homeland and have it turned into yet another barbaric Islamic nightmare like the rest of the Middle East. I for one defiantly do not boycott Israel and I look directly at all other countries that should also be boycotted if we are talking about human rights abuses. Funny how the only Jewish state in the entire world is always being singled out for special treatment by so-called human rights activists / artists of conscience. No mention here of the myriad of human rights abuses throughout the world by every country on earth. For example no calls for boycotting Russia or Turkey for invasion and annexation of sovereign states, no calls for boycotting every Islamic state for prejudice and discrimination against all minorities suffering bigotry and denial of rights, silence on boycotting China for its incessant repression and torture of millions of its own citizens, not even any calls for boycotting US or UK for starting illegal wars thousands of miles from their lands - no just lets pick on the evil 'Zionists'. Well Quietus, I shall boycott you (I'm sure you can survive this).

It is well known that the biggest oppressors of the Palestinian people are their own millionaire, totalitarian, racist, corrupt, arrogant leaders who are happy for their citizens to suffer and die in a futile cause of spreading Islamic tyranny across the middle East a la Isis - perhaps the invective and hyperbole from the boycotters should be directed towards the Islamic supremacists who demand the subjugation and obliteration of non-Islamic culture and beliefs. Although I expect this is the hidden agenda they are pursuing.

I respect those who reject the boycott such as Elton John, Alicia Keys, Madonna, Paul McCartney, Morrissey. PIL, Leonard Cohen, Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Metallica, Editors, Placebo, LCD Soundsystem, MGMT, Justin Bieber, Ziggy Marley, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Mark Ronson, Depeche Mode, Gilberto Gil, Daniela Mercury, Rolling Stones, Tom Jones and Eric Burdon - to name but some (not that I am a big fan of many of these). I hope the BDS movement fails and that Israelis and Palestinians achieve peace through negotiation and concessions on all sides - not through worldwide discrimination against the Jewish state.

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Joseph Coward
Jun 22, 2015 1:24pm

In reply to Oppose the boycott:

The Jewish state is not being singled out for any cruel or unusual punishment; that is reserved for the Palestinians who must live under a Zionist regime. And what's not so funny, anonymous poster, is your attempt to smear BDS activists as anti-Semitic. As the article states, "guidelines relating to the academic and cultural boycotts are unequivocal in their opposition to any form of bigotry", and these guidelines are freely available online should you wish to read them. It's ironic that you accuse Palestinians and BDS supporters of wanting to annihilate the Jewish state, when Zionist rhetoric is explicit in its intent to "de-Arabize" the occupied area; Israel was founded on this very principle in 1948.

Regarding your noble highlighting of other human rights issues: yes, you are quite right, atrocities are being committed all over the world. Does every human rights campaign have to incorporate all others to make it valid?

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dirigible
Jun 22, 2015 4:12pm

"libellous and offensive posts will be removed without explanation."

In stark contrast to the libellous and offensive original article, which is still up despite being a red-faced series of blasts on a dog whistle.

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maddog
Jun 22, 2015 5:31pm

In reply to dirigible:

Whenever I see your name in the comments you always seem to spout something negative, useless and completely abhorrent to any of the points made in the corresponding article. Think your one liners are running out of steam my friend, been a while since any of them made sense either, which begs the question, why are you here? spunk material?

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spacemanjoy
Jun 22, 2015 8:43pm

Thank you for this very thought-provoking article. I not only learned a lot but was moved by it. I'm glad that musicians I respect (Faust, Eno, Thurston M., etc.) are reconsidering their positions on the issue. It's a heartening shift in opinion, although I suspect that musicians who sympathize with BDS are in a minority. I find that even among musicians who are 'progressive' on almost every political and cultural issue, most reflexively side with Israel on this one.

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Yael Kahn
Jun 22, 2015 9:28pm

In reply to Joseph Coward:

I agree with your comments but wanted to add that not surprisingly a few of those listed by "Oppose the boycott" as breachers of the boycott also played in South Africa’s Sun City despite the Boycott of Apartheid. Ironically first in that list is Elton John, who indeed played in both Apartheid Israel (2010) and South Africa (in 1983).
Worthwhile watching this satirical take of Elton John song appropriately reworded:
"Hey Elton" by John Greyson at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9HSClZbhB5g

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jonathan
Jun 22, 2015 9:34pm

This article is full of imprecision's and i recommend people who are interested in this conflict to learn through more sources then just one.

here are a few points-
- the occupation is oppressive and must stop- 100 percent correct
- the current right wing government (who is ruling by the tiniest majority of one sit btw) is appalling disgusting and fascist - 100 percent correct
- the racism and fear and hate is not just one sided and extremist from both sides are continuously ruining the possibility for piece. you constantly repeat the words slaughter and annihilation etc completely ignoring the fact that people are getting murdered and were always getting murdered (even before israel was formed ) by both sides. completely ignoring one side of the conflict will do nothing to solve it. its a shame it is not easy for some nations in the area to see the faults in their own regime and thus be capable to improve their people lives.
the reall slaughter is happening on a monstrous scale in syria yet non of you "freedom fighters" is doing any protstests against what is happening there- against Russia and Iran who are keeping Asad and funding his slaughter... this is REAL slaughter man! but no one will boycott iran or Russia simply because its not trendy.
- i personally believe that everything (practical) should be done for the palestinian people so i can see why people can think of boycott , however i dont think a cultural boycott is the answer and the reason for that is the following - israel society at the moment is split into 2 camps that are almost at civil war with each other. the left who want resolution and to be part of the world and the right who has a slight majority and is led by racism fear and hate. the left is pro culture and right is anti culture . the left is pro palestinian solution the right is against it. every time an artist cancels a concert the right wingers are rejoicing - in their eyes its a victory against the culture loving left . these people dont believe in human values so there is no value in art for them. i promis you that everyone in israle who listens to elvis costelo is pro palestinian. they are the only ones loosing.
ill give an example- ahinoam nini (noa) is an israeli singer who is constantly outspoken for the palestinian cause - and i mean constantly vocal about it. she is doing so in Israel risking her safety- constantly confronting right wing zelots , she is often spat at in the streets , fascists bit her up , they barge into her shows, they protest against her. and the irony is that when she came to perform at the Barbican a few months ago, your friends from the BDS came on stage and ruined her performance in the name of " the palestinian cause" let me ask you then- is that not racist? hating someone just because where he was born without any connection to who they are?
the reason why people think BDS is anti-Semitic is because there is so much attention to Israel - it is trendy to hate Israel while ignoring completely conflicts which are truly worse. however as someone that was born in israel i dont mind this attention because i do want things to change there. but i can understand why israelis think its anti-Semitism.

- one last point of though- with all the film makers boycotting the israeli film industry- please remember the Iranian film industry - so many amazing films came out of iran in the 90's in the midst of one of the most brutal regimes ever (much more brutal then israel) how lucky we are that we all saw all these amazing films (often funded by the iranian government) how lucky we are that there was a discourse with such amazing film makers. how lucky we are that we didnt boycott these film makers. so why do you want to boycott a film industry that mostly fights to change isreal for the better? by shutting yourself to dialogue you are just closing up an opportunity for artists to rebel against their government from within . thats all your doing.

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Emak Bakia
Jun 22, 2015 11:48pm

Many artists who end up not playing in Israel do so because BDS activists metaphorically beat them into submisson with their concerted and concentrated social media bombing until the artists announce they will cancel shows or refuse to go again the future. The ultra-dogmatic BDS activists may regard this as a win but bullying is a hollow victory. I say this as someone who abhors the actions of the Israeli authorities and the IDF.

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Emak Bakia
Jun 22, 2015 11:50pm

Many artists who end up not playing in Israel do so because BDS activists metaphorically beat them into submisson with their concerted and concentrated social media bombing until the artists announce they will cancel shows or refuse to go again in the future. The ultra-dogmatic BDS activists may regard this as a win but bullying is a hollow victory. I say this as someone who abhors the actions of the Israeli authorities and the IDF.

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blob
Jun 22, 2015 11:56pm

So, 1000 artist are boycotting Israel but at the same time they don't have any problem playing in UK or US (countries that every few year bomb into oblivion few million people, have hundreds of torture camps etc...etc..).

I guess it's easier to be morally judgemental with smaller countries. Not a lot of venues, Cds, records, t-shirt are sold in Israel.
Can't bite the hand that feeds you.

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Miranda Pennell
Jun 23, 2015 10:22am

In reply to blob:

There is nothing to stop artists simultaneously being politically active against repressive UK or US policies, and many of us are. To say that all regimes everywhere be boycotted simultaneously regardless of context, is ridiculous. It's a way of avoiding doing anything, ever. Each situation demands an appropriate strategy or tactic, and one that is likely to have an effect.

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Samir Eskanda
Jun 23, 2015 12:37pm

In reply to jonathan:

Jonathan, you say my article is full of "imprecision's" and then you fail to point any out, and go on to make a series of glaring errors yourself. You say, "i promis you that everyone in israle who listens to elvis costelo is pro palestinian". This is an obvious absurdity that I don't think needs analysing any further - as if liking music is a purely left wing tradition!

You say, "every time an artist cancels a concert the right wingers are rejoicing", again an outright falsehood with no bearing in reality. The right wing in Israel is deeply opposed to the boycott and in fact Netanyahu's right wing government just appointed a minister with the brief of fighting the boycott. So this has no basis in truth whatsoever.

You talk about the singer, Noa, and say, "is that not racist? hating someone just because where he was born without any connection to who they are?" It would be, if it were true. You don't seem to have read the article, which points out that the boycott "does not target individuals according to their nationality or beliefs, and as such is incompatible with any form of racism". So again, your comments are imprecise, if not straightforward lies, but I'll be generous and assume you don't understand the boycott, rather than are wilfully misrepresenting it.

You claim that "by shutting yourself to dialogue you are just closing up an opportunity for artists to rebel against their government from within", well, luckily the boycott does not close down dialogue, in fact the boycott, as I wrote, is a "strongly communicative protest". It does not shut down ideas, it is a call for solidarity. And actually, the boycott can, and is joined by many Israelis, including artists who are able to join the rest of us in dialogue toward justice and peace. So your comments here are very misleading.

Your comparison with Iranian filmmakers is interesting but again it's totally false; Iran has long been subject to the kinds of sanctions that BDS calls for, but still we saw those films... And again, you have totally misunderstood the boycott, which does not target artists based on their background, but only boycotts projects that have been funded by the regime. The Iranian films you talk about are often made under the noses of the regime, without their consent. Israeli films that are not funded by the Israeli regime are not boycottable, so again what you're saying is just way, way off the mark.

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jonathan
Jun 23, 2015 2:57pm

In reply to Samir Eskanda:

Samir Eskanda -im answering to your reply.
I think you are infact more missleading than me. with all your bragadoshioyo words , my respond seemed to get you upset because there is a grain of truth there and you know it. I will not reply to your answers because i can see that you cannot contemplate in reason beyond the narrow views that you already have. I will only relate to the last remarks about the Iranian cinema , again Samir- you are completly wrong there. most of these Iranian films were indeed funded by the governtment . anyone who knows anything about film knows that films cannot be made without governtment funding (unles your talking about hollywood) Kannon - the organization that funded abbas kiarostamis films is a governtment body amongst others. In israel - like anywhere else in the world, film makers cannot make films without government help . so infact by boycotting the israeli film industry you are indeed boycotting all the individual film makers. all of them. the quengos and comitties that the governtment put together are made out of poeple - some of them are indeed poeple with concious , who are hurting for the palestinian people. yes many films are funded by the govenrment but are infact made with the sole purpose of changing the minds of people within israel - trying to make them understand and stop the occupation- films like "5 broken cameras" and "self made" are all about this exactly. and yes they were sponsered by the "governtment" but are made by people!. so by boycotting them you are indeed shuting your ears to the fact that many israelis want change, you just call them all "the israeli governtment" and shut the dialogue. you really show double standarts here .
Samir i hope that one day you will manage to see through hate , to understand and read more in a more open way. not to constantly feed yourself with what you already know, explore other sources as well. criticise yourself as well and stop being so patronizing. more than anything i hope for freedom to the Palestinian poeple.

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jonathan
Jun 23, 2015 3:12pm

and Samir one more thing- my palestinian friends from the area as well as everybody with eyes knows one thing , there are the unfortunate circumstances of history which nobody can change. the ugly wars, and misconducts of truth, the uprooting of many palestinians, the uprooting of many jews from europe- its all ugly and unfair- the real question is how to deal with it. there are the extremists- the hamas and bibi/ likud and they are against the people who seek piece- abbas and the merets party in israel for example. drowning in saturation and seeing only black and white just strengthens the extremists. they are winning anyway. culture and listening against boycotting and violence.

i dont blame you , the current government is disgusting and i somehow lost hope as well. but cultural boycott is not the answer. you are just increasing hate.

sport boycott on the other hand...

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Samir Eskanda
Jun 23, 2015 3:14pm

I'm not in the least bit upset. It's very revealing that you won't respond to my points, what's stopping you? The things you are claiming are simply false. Please look up one of Iran's most famous filmmakers, Jafar Pahani, many of whole films are banned by the regime and who was imprisoned for his films. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jafar_Panahi

You: "In israel - like anywhere else in the world, film makers cannot make films without government help" - another falsehood. What about the films that show at the Zochrot Film Festival, which the Israeli regime has tried to ban? Were they funded by the government? No, of course not. I can't tell if you're lying on purpose or if you're so uninformed that you believe the inaccuracies you propagate.

As for me seeing through "hate", and "read more", this is patently ridiculous, evidently I understand the issues at stake clearly, whereas you are putting forth various lies and falsehoods.

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Samir Eskanda
Jun 23, 2015 3:25pm

In reply to jonathan:

So you want to boycott Israel but just not the cultural aspect? Please see Thurston Moore's comments: "a cultural and academic boycott is central to its purpose in exposing a reality of brutal human rights violations". This is reflective of the fact that the cultural boycott is a necessary component of the BDS strategy. You might be reluctant about it but you saying it just increases "hate" is just an unqualified statement with no bearing on reality. The hate already exists. We seek to stand in solidarity and achieve rights for Palestinians. You're welcome to join.

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Samir Eskanda
Jun 23, 2015 4:03pm

In reply to Emak Bakia:

Why not ask Thurston Moore, or Douglas Hart, or Jamie Reynolds, all of whom I quote in the piece, if they feel "bullied" by BDS activists? In fact, according to Reynolds, the "bullying" came from the Israelis who sent him a "barrage of hate mail" when he cancelled the show.

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Apop
Jun 23, 2015 5:12pm

Bravo to the Quietus for running with this - an obviously very sensitive issue and situation. I'd be curious to know why PIL isn't part of the boycott, Lydon is a rather principled artist and I've always been quite interested in his take on issues.

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crank
Jun 23, 2015 5:32pm

In reply to Apop:

J. Lydon, like so many other artists (The Telescopes, the Jesus & Mary Chain This Mortal Orchestra and many more) thinks that the boycott is ridiculous , he doesnt understand how people so ignorantly ignore atrocities all over the world , and choose to boycott and put all their hate and energy on Israel alone . how these boycotters ignore the mass massacre that Russia is funding in syria , how non of these freedom fighters care about the 200000 dead and more dying. and there are so many other atrocities especially in the middle east that the boycotters choose to ignore simply because all they know how to do is to follow the blind heard like sheeps, never looking , never seeing , never thinking

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Emak Bakia
Jun 23, 2015 7:55pm

In reply to Samir Eskanda:

I would ask them if I knew them but unfortunately i don't. I can only go from my own experiences of playing in Israel and the relentless number of tweets, facebook posts and emails (some with veiled threats and one post that posted my home address online) I received for weeks on end from BDS activists. initially I engaged with them but they are so dogmatic that the only engagement was to patronise me and insult me. So, the next time I was invited to play there I said no, not because my mind had been changed but because I couldn't face having to deal with the zealots and didn't want to put my partner through the stress of having our address posted online again. So, sorry Thurston, Douglas, Jamie and Samir, but I feel that was a hollow victory based on bullying from BDS that achieved nothing, changed nothing and left a bad taste all round.

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Evegwendo
Jun 23, 2015 10:40pm

I think this is an important article, so thanks to The Quietus for publishing it. Reading the article, I had respect for the writer, of whom I'd never heard, and am still none the wiser. Reading the comments, I'm disappointed, and have lost the esteem in which I held the writer as I think he's sounding rather angry and sensitive when challenged. I don't think that Samir takes too well to criticism. For what it's worth I agree with the boycott, and anti-Semitism is not even an issue. Sadly, the actions of successive Israeli governments and passionate supporters of Zionism and the Israel Defence Forces (such a misnomer) are not helping the cause of Jews worldwide. There is no excuse for anti-Semitism, and it shows a lot of ignorance in the West. Still, I think someone with more clout and on much less of an ego-trip could have written a better article, and not bristled by hijacking his own comments.

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Samir Eskanda
Jun 23, 2015 10:53pm

Fair point, although I don't think "hijacked" is the right way to put it, I've responded to people's constructive criticism as well as less than constructive ones accusing me of imprecisions. I'm glad you enjoyed the article and that you don't think anti-Semitism is an issue. I have, however, spent the last two days fending off accusations of precisely that, so please forgive me if I sound a little sensitive.

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Samir Eskanda
Jun 23, 2015 10:53pm

Fair point, although I don't think "hijacked" is the right way to put it, I've responded to people's constructive criticism as well as less than constructive ones accusing me of imprecisions. I'm glad you enjoyed the article and that you don't think anti-Semitism is an issue. I have, however, spent the last two days fending off accusations of precisely that, so please forgive me if I sound a little sensitive.

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Samir Eskanda
Jun 23, 2015 10:58pm

In reply to Evegwendo:

As it says in caption at the top, I'm a musician (not a writer). I deliberately didn't want the name of my band included in the piece because I didn't want it to come across as self-promotion. But if you use an internet search you'll find out quite easily which bands I've been in. Again, glad you enjoyed the piece and sorry if you think my personally responding to people has detracted from it. It is quite common for the editors and other writers to respond to comments here so I didn't think it was an issue. And like I say, if I sound sensitive, it's because I've been accused of all sorts.

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RussellBrandTerrier
Jun 23, 2015 11:50pm

In Reply to ' Crank ': I'm sure the leaders in South Africa under Apartheid used the same argument as J. Lydon.

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Samir Eskanda
Jun 24, 2015 2:21am

In reply to Emak Bakia:

Emak, it's a genuine shame that you have this perception of boycott activists, which differs entirely from Thurston Moore's, who wrote (as above): "This is in admiration to the fans, friends and neighbors who have engaged me in discussing the complicity of crossing this very real line of protest". If you want to confirm with him (or Reynolds) whether he felt bullied, you could always use the same methods you mention, that is to say, through social media. The BDS activists that I know are compassionate, level-headed and non-confrontational in their posts to artists. As an amorphous, leaderless, global protest tactic, involving millions of people all over the world, it is certainly possible that the occasional person would misinterpret the nature of the boycott's tactics and be less than polite. But that's not the experience that I think most artists would report, certainly not the ones I've spoken to. If anything, it is opponents of the boycott who I find tend to resort to personal attacks at a moment's notice. One of the first comments on here was someone calling me "a sick and disgusting human being", which was deleted by admin.

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Don Draper
Jun 24, 2015 11:32am

"In the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, Israel restricts every aspect of the lives of 2.7 million Palestinians."

in most of the surrounding countries islam restricts even more aspects of human lives for even more MUSLIM people.

don't see you complaining about that, or I'm to expect you (and the mentioned artists) to boycott saudi arabia on more or less the same criteria as isreal. oh, wait...

quietus, I'm truly disappointed in this piece of anti-israel garbage posing as human rights issue.

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Jun 24, 2015 11:59am

In reply to Don Draper:

Don Draper you are confusing a state and a religion here. What is important in this debate is to realise the call for a boycott comes from those directly involved, ie the Palestinian people.

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Don Draper
Jun 24, 2015 12:11pm

In reply to :

in reply to in reply to Don Draper

no, I'm not confusing it, unless you think islam plays a lesser role in the state functioning of those countries.

also, the fact that call for debate (but let's face it this article is written like there's nothing here to debate about) actually comes from people directly involved makes no difference for me. on the contrary just makes it less objective (which is to a point quite reasonable and expected).

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Emak Bakia
Jun 24, 2015 12:57pm

In reply to Samir Eskanda:

Samir, you seem to be stuck in a Thurston Moore loop. I'm delighted Mr. Moore had such a wonderful experience and is now the poster child for the love and light that is the gentle persuasion of the BDS. He is Thurston Moore so maybe he gets the kid gloves treatment while I am not an artist of his stature so it is patently acceptable for me to be on the receiving end of veiled threats and hostility, some of it sent to my personal email account as well as a concerted effort on Twitter to try to shame me. There was no compassion in my case and in all honesty I can only describe the BDS activists tactics as shameful, hostile, ill thought out and ultimately as losing any moral authority.

When I did decide not to go back, I received a very understanding and sympathetic response from my fans in Israel and a few gloating responses from BDS activists. I am sure the majority of BDS activists are not like this but there are definitely some who need to take a long, hard look at their tactics.

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Yael Kahn
Jun 24, 2015 2:58pm

In reply to Emak Bakia:

I am one of the many BDS activists. Our aim is to convince musicians, who like you "abhors the actions of the Israeli authorities and the IDF", to respect the Palestinian call for boycott.
Your experience is rather unusual as in my experience "veiled threats and hostility" and much worse are widely used by the thousands whose job is to harass supporters of BDS.
I personally received numerous death threats from apologists of the Israeli war crimes. But the death threats began long before BDS. The first death threats I received were in Haifa when I was a student at the Technion, because I dared to speak out against our war crimes against the Palestinians.

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kilamangaro
Jun 24, 2015 9:48pm

The Great gilberto gill ketano veloso say fu$k you to the BDS (and also to netaniyahu)

http://www.timesofisrael.com/brazilian-crooners-wont-bend-to-bds/

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Jun 25, 2015 3:32am

Excellent initiative, I've personally boycotted
Israel since I was a teenager in the early 80s.

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Matt
Jun 25, 2015 4:45pm

ooooh, boycotting one whole show, in one city. What a sacrifice.

If you want to demonstrate something real, boycott America, please. We keep Israel on our payroll, after all. Without American support, Israel would be isolated.

Until you boycott the USA this is merely a small display of moral righteousness. All a big preening contest amounting to nothing.

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mrbrklyn
Jun 27, 2015 1:26am

When I read about your preception of the asymetry of the Gaza war, I am reminded how deep the anti-semetitism is ingrained in you. This is our land, and yet we share it with a hostile alien,non-native peoples who would kill us. Stay out of Israel, please.

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aseparatepiece
Jun 27, 2015 2:42am

Thank God for brave and conscientious artists that take a stand to protest what too many other people (and governments) ignore -- the shameful fact of Israeli apartheid. It has been covered up and hidden for too long. Sunshine is the best disinfectant. The world is finally learning the truth about what Israel is, and Israel will never become the democracy it claims to be as long as the rest of the world continues to turn a blind eye and enable Israeli apartheid. We have been lied to and used, for too long.

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Jo
Jun 27, 2015 4:36am

Ok Thurston - never really liked your music that much but I WILL be among millions boycotting your music and any income you make from sales of your products.

Enjoy your naive and ignorant protest of the only true democracy in the Middle East.

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Anna Semel
Jun 27, 2015 7:02am

This has gone on long enough. Jordan is 77 percent of the
Palestine Mandate. I originally had enough sympathy to call
for autonomy for the Arabs in the West Bank, but I've changed
my mine. Now I feel they should be expelled to Jordan and Israel
should annex the West Bank. To do otherwise would leave Israel
with borders that would threaten its very existence. I hope more
people see the truth here. Behind BDS lies the very existence
of Israel and the Arabs in the West Bank overwhelmingly support
Hamas. Talk about apartheid. How many Jews live in the Arab
countries? Talk about apartheid. Israel will have to fight for its existence with the support of God, not a bunch of hypo-
critical Jew haters.

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Anna Semel
Jun 27, 2015 7:02am

This has gone on long enough. Jordan is 77 percent of the
Palestine Mandate. I originally had enough sympathy to call
for autonomy for the Arabs in the West Bank, but I've changed
my mine. Now I feel they should be expelled to Jordan and Israel
should annex the West Bank. To do otherwise would leave Israel
with borders that would threaten its very existence. I hope more
people see the truth here. Behind BDS lies the very existence
of Israel and the Arabs in the West Bank overwhelmingly support
Hamas. Talk about apartheid. How many Jews live in the Arab
countries? Talk about apartheid. Israel will have to fight for its existence with the support of God, not a bunch of hypo-
critical Jew haters.

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Paul Atreides
Jun 27, 2015 5:36pm

In reply to John Doran:

Then you should delete the article in its entirety. No explanation needed.

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Paul Atreides
Jun 27, 2015 5:39pm

In reply to :

Sorry, big business only cares about arab, islamist, jihadi, terrorists who have oil.

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Jul 1, 2015 6:48pm

In reply to mrbrklyn:

Well said, mrbrklyn. Unwitting, conflicted supporters of neo-Nazi, arab, islamist, fundamentalist, jihadi, terrorism, don't know who the indigenous people of Israel are, the Jews. It is their indigenous, ancestral, and now sovereign, homeland. The indigenous land of the arab is the arab peninsula.

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Kimmy Gee
Jul 9, 2015 5:31am

Thurston Moore cannot really be hailed for the high moral ground he occupies. Moore makes a much stronger case for two-timing.

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edward
Jul 10, 2015 4:22pm

Respect to all BDS supporters. Big up Quietus for this article. Trolls will be trolls.

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Aug 1, 2015 9:23am

Stop fighting through religion, sexism, racism. the Jewish people have turned baron land that other people tried to but failed and thought will always be baron. But the Jewish people turned the waste land into greenery and workable land, now the Arabs, Palestinians want it. Also, you said the Gaza poeple are flying missiles into Israel. SO, if for example, Poland flew missiles into Germany, and you think Germany will say,"oh that's alright", I don't think so, I think Germany or any other country that is getting bombed will retaliate and bomb the hell out of the other country,
If you want to apply anger, apply it to your own forefathers, if you want to release anger buy land and become a gardener, if you want your 7 hale Mary's become friends with 1 person of every religion in the world and enjoy all your lives together

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