Jello Biafra to play in Israel despite protests

Jello Biafra

Jello Biafra

Musician Jello Biafra has vowed to defy calls for him to boycott a planned performance in Israel.

The former lead singer of the Dead Kennedys is set to play in Tel Aviv for the first time on July 2 with his band the Guantanamo School of Medicine.

Since the concert was announced he has been inundated with criticism from boycott, divestment and sanctions groups urging him to cancel. A Palestinian group called "Punks against Apartheid" set up a petition urging him to cancel on the basis that playing in Israel would "fly in the face" of what he had stood for in the past.

The San Francisco punk-rocker is known for his left-wing views; he sought the Green Party presidential nomination in 2000 but was unsuccessful.

In the petition the "Punks" said punk musicians in particular should not bring their art to Israel because of the genre's "storied history of counter-cultural and political messages".

"We implore you, once again, to cancel your 'Holiday in Tel Aviv!'," wrote the "Punks" to Mr Biafra. So far more than 1,000 have registered support for the petition.

But Mr Biafra said he would not pull out of the concert.

"The more we know about the many sides to this horrible conflict, the more we realise we don't know," he wrote in a response to the activists posted on Facebook. "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."

He said he would also visit the West Bank and that he would not use his time in Israel just to "hang out at the beach" and return home.

"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," he said.

"Then, back home in America, I will be able to speak more knowledgeably from eyewitness experience."

Last updated: 3:00pm, June 24 2011