Jello Biafra cancels Israel gig but attacks boycotters

By Jennifer Lipman, June 29, 2011
Jello Biafra

Jello Biafra

The former lead singer of the Dead Kennedys has pulled out of a planned concert in Tel Aviv this weekend, but says he will still go to Israel.

Jello Biafra, who was set to play in Tel Aviv for the first time on July 2 with his band the Guantanamo School of Medicine, said the cancellation absolutely did not mean he or his band were endorsing or joining a boycott of Israel.

Instead he delivered a blistering attack on the boycott, divestment and sanctions groups, including one called "Punks Against Apartheid", who campaigned for him to cancel.

He also said he refused to be "a poodle for Hasbara, Peace Now, BDS or anyone else"

Mr Biafra said he would still go to Israel and Palestine "to check things out myself" and may yet change his mind about his decision.

He said his only intention in going to Israel had been to do some good, and criticised those who attempted to stop him.

"What about the people on the same side of the human rights fence we are, who now don't get to see us play?" asked the punk star. "Should they be boycotted too?

"I've been doing this long enough to know better than buy into hardline absolutes such as playing in Israel automatically supports apartheid or Israel's government. That threat is ridiculous."

He condemned the way in which discussion about playing in Israel had descended into a "childish bickerfest" from both Palestinian and Israeli groups, and noted that many of the "Punks Against Apartheid" petition signatories had no idea who he was.

He added: "I can't back anyone whose real goal or fantasy is a country ethnically cleansed of Jews or anyone else, where people who think for themselves or talk to the wrong person are automatically a sellout."

"Speaking personally, I currently favour two democratic states in the admittedly naive hope that in our lifetime they can somehow evolve into one."

Last updated: 5:17pm, June 29 2011