Thurston Moore (Sonic Youth guitarist) Explains Nixed Tel Aviv Gig, Israel Boycott – Daniel Dreps/ Rolling Stone
“To perform with my band in Israel was in direct conflict to my values,” guitarist writes in letter explaining nixed April concert.
Two months after Thurston Moore canceled a Tel Aviv, Israel performance without explanation, the guitarist has opened up about the “conscientious decision process” behind the nixed gig. In Moore’s letter, published within The Quietus’ larger story about musicians boycotting Israel over the treatment of Palestinians, the Sonic Youth rocker writes that he canceled the Tel Aviv concert both due to his support of the BDS Movement and his belief in “empowerment through choice of non-violent activism.”
“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,” Moore wrote (via Stereogum), “with certitude, to fully acknowledge the dedication of the boycott until the time comes for it to be unnecessary.”
Moore admits that he first began refusing offers to perform in Israel in 2005, when the BDS Movement was established. However, after a decade of turning down shows in the Middle Eastern country, “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,” Moore wrote.
After scheduling the April 27th Tel Aviv performance at the Barby Club, and after “serious deliberation,” Moore “arrived at the personal conclusion that to perform with my band in Israel was in direct conflict to my values.” The BDS Movement has called for the boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel.
“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,” Moore wrote. “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.”
Moore joins an ever-growing collection of artists who have either boycotted or canceled Israel concerts in recent years; The Quietus puts the number at 1,000 British musicians alone, including Roger Waters, who for over two years has been at the forefront of the boycott. “They are running riot,” Waters said of the Israeli government’s occupation of Gaza and the West Bank in 2013, “and it seems unlikely that running over there and playing the violin will have any lasting effect.”
“When Sonic Youth played Tel Aviv in 1996 it was an amazing, wonderful experience and education,” Moore wrote in conclusion. “I hope to return soon.”