SINÉAD O’CONNOR: 'I WON’T PLAY IN ISRAEL’
Sinéad O’Connor has spoken exclusively to Hot Press about a show she was reportedly due to have played on September 11 in Caesarea, a town located half-way between Tel Aviv and Haifa.
The Hot Press Newsdesk, 24 Jul 2014
“There was an offer which I was only prepared to entertain if Israeli Arabs, Palestinians, whoever, were welcome at the gig,” she explains. “The other acts on the bill also had to be from across all those divides. That was a bit of a hot potato and not settled, when someone who had no business doing so sneakily released the information saying it was confirmed, which it never was. It was conditional on those terms.
“At the same time, musicians are notoriously stupid/ignorant people and I didn’t realise – nor was I told by my booking agent or anyone else – that if I stepped foot there I would in fact be breaking this cultural boycott and may as well be shitting all over the Palestinian people. They were very well aware of the situation but they didn’t fill me in when they were trying to convince me for a year to do the gig.
“Anyway, the next thing I’m the subject of abuse from everybody left, right and centre because I’m somehow sanctioning what’s happening to the Palestinian people – which I’m not. I’m not going to go there because it’s a shithole, but in a way I feel sorry for the young people on each side of the situation who, because of a conflict that they did not cause, cannot have any type of normal life including music and musicians.”
Sinéad says that she objects to being dragged into politics.
“Let’s just say that, on a human level, nobody with any sanity, including myself, would have anything but sympathy for the Palestinian plight. There’s not a sane person on earth who in any way sanctions what the fuck the Israeli authorities are doing.”
The Caesarea gig, had it gone ahead, would have been relatively lucrative for the singer whose I’m Not Bossy, I’m The Boss album drops on August 8.
“Normally I get paid about ten grand for a gig, this offer was for a hundred grand,” she reveals. “I was refusing and refusing for a year, and a certain amount of pressure was put on me and then it became apparent a few months ago that frankly I could do with the money. We’re all in trouble financially and I’m no different. I had a bit of a worrying meeting with my accountant and afterwards said, ‘Oh fuck it, let’s do this gig’.”
In 1997, O’Connor backed out of the Sharing Jerusalem: Two Capitals For Two States concert after receiving death threats.
“I’ve been accused of somehow being a supporter of the Israeli authorities, which is nonsense – nothing could be further from the truth,” she reiterates. “It was a gig that had been organised by a bunch of Palestinian and Israeli women to campaign for this idea of sharing the place basically, and right-wing Jewish groups threatened to kill myself and my band. I’m not prepared to die for anyone else’s bullshit, nor am I prepared to put my band at risk, so we didn’t go.”
Sinéad did get to perform two gigs in Caesarea in June 1995 when, as she puts it, “There wasn’t a boycott and it wasn’t what you might call ‘a big deal’ and you weren’t fucking anyone over if you went. I actually hated the place so fucking much. I found it one of the most aggressive places I’ve ever been. I still have quite a scar from a photographer shoving his camera right into my chest. It’s the only place I’ve ever been that I never wanted to go back to. Consequentially for the last 25 years whenever anything about Israel came on the news, I’d literally turn it off. As far as I was concerned Israel did not exist. So I didn’t keep up at all with anything that was going on there. It’s just a bad word to me, ‘Israel’.”
We’ll be talking music with Sinéad in our next issue.
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Rock stars Peter Gabriel and Bobby Gillespie urge arms embargo on Israel
Submitted by Amena Saleem on Fri, 07/25/2014 - 21:23
The rock star Peter Gabriel and film-maker Ken Loach are among 21,000 people who have signed an open letter to David Cameron, the British prime minister, demanding an immediate halt to the arms trade between the UK and Israel.
The letter was delivered today, directly to Cameron’s residence at 10 Downing Street in London by Loach and three members of parliament — Jeremy Corbyn, Diane Abbott and Jim Fitzpatrick.
Prominent signatories included fashion designer Bella Freud, journalist and activist Jemima Khan, musicians Bobby Gillespie of Primal Scream, Robert Del Naja of Massive Attack, Brian Eno and Bryan Adams, the writers Will Self, Hanif Kureishi, Ahdaf Soueif, Esther Freud, Laura Bailey and William Dalrymple, and the actors David Morrissey, Maxine Peake and Alexei Sayle.
Academics Karma Nabulsi (a PSC patron), Ghada Karmi and Steven Rose and human rights lawyer Geoffrey Bindman also signed the letter.
The letter was posted on the Palestine Solidarity Campaign’s website earlier this week and gathered 21,000 signatures in just two days.
Speaking outside Downing Street today, Hugh Lanning of the PSC said: “Our aim is to stop the Israeli government getting military aid and equipment from the British government. Our aid and arms help kill innocent Palestinian civilians. We need to isolate apartheid Israel now and impose sanctions now.”
Israeli war machine
In two weeks, Israel’s air, land and sea assault has massacred close to 900 Palestinians in Gaza, nearly 200 of them children. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs stated today that at least 42 families in Gaza have had three or more members killed in the same incident since 7 July, resulting in 253 fatalities.
In an email message to the PSC, Bobby Gillespie of Primal Scream, wrote: “Our hearts and love are with the Palestinian people. We support their continuing fight for human rights and dignity and righteous resistance to Israeli imperialism, occupation and war crimes.”
Jemima Khan said: “Where is the world-wide uproar? Shame on our leaders who would speak up if this were happening to any other country on Earth.” Bella Freud spoke of the upcoming demonstrations across Britain on Saturday: “We will not stop protesting until Gaza is free.”
Jeremy Corbyn told journalists today: “The UK has a very close relationship with Israel, including buying and selling arms, and it’s time that this relationship was brought to an end since Israel is now under investigation for war crimes over the bombing of Gaza.
“I received an email from Dr. Mads Gilbert, working in Shifa hospital [in Gaza City], and it brought tears to my eyes when he was describing the pools of blood, the electricity cut off, the lack of clean water and the continuous surge of the dead and injured pouring into the hospital. It’s people like that who are saving lives, and Israel which is taking lives.”
Ken Loach told reporters: “It’s disgraceful that our government is arming the State of Israel to continue its slaughter of civilians, of women and children. Everyone must be devastated by the sight of the maimed and the dead in Gaza, and everyone must direct their anger towards the Israeli war machine.”
Last Saturday, 100,000 people marched through the streets of London, from Whitehall to the Israeli embassy in Kensington, protesting the massacre in Gaza.
The PSC and other organizations, including the Palestinian Forum in Britain and Friends of Al Aqsa, have called another march and rally in London tomorrow, which will demand an end to the arms trade with Israel.
Protesters will gather at the Israeli embassy at midday and march to the Houses of Parliament. Children’s author and poet Michael Rosen, comedian Jeremy Hardy and guitarist and music producer Dave Randall will be among those addressing the closing rally at Parliament Square.
And protests will be taking place around the UK and Ireland in support of Gaza on the same day, demanding not just an end to Israel’s current slaughter, but complete freedom and justice for Palestine.
Updated 26 July to add some signatories’ names and quotes from Khan and Freud.