The inimitable Nick Cave played Tel Aviv last night, a concert that, like any other show by the most soulful artist working today, was shattering and sublime. Just as moving, however, was Cave’s pre-concert press conference, in which he shared his reason for returning to the Holy Land after a two-decade absence.
“If you do play Israel, you have to go through a certain kind of public humiliation from Roger Waters and co,” Cave said candidly, “and no one wants to be publicly shamed. And I think, to my shame, I did that for maybe 20 years. Israel would come up and I said ‘look, let’s not do it, right.’ So after a lot of thought, a lot of consideration, I rang up my people and said we’re doing a European tour and Israel. Because it suddenly became very important to make a stand, against those people that are trying to shut down musicians, to bully musicians, to censor musicians, and to silence musicians. So really at the end of the day I think there’s two reasons maybe why I’m here. One is I love Israel and I love Israeli people. And two is to make a principled stand against anyone who tries to censor or silence musicians. So really you could say that the BDS made me play Israel.”
Proving that they have very little grasp on irony, the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, an organization devoted solely to maliciously making every aspect of life in the Jewish State political and divisive, issued a statement saying that Cave’s courage is proof that, well, every aspect of life in the Jewish state is political and divisive. “Nick Cave’s performances in Tel Aviv and recent statement are a propaganda gift to Israeli apartheid,” read the campaign’s statement. “We thank Nick Cave for making one thing abundantly clear—playing Tel Aviv is never simply about music. It is a political and moral decision to stand with the oppressor against the oppressed.”
So now, because art will always overcome hate and open hearts will always outshine narrow minds, put on your headphones and enjoy “The Mercy Seat,” live from Haifa in 1993, Cave’s first-ever concert in Israel:
Liel Leibovitz is editor at large for Tablet Magazine and a host of its weekly culture podcast Unorthodox and daily Talmud podcast Take One.