Neil Young: from troubadour for justice to minstrel for apartheid

Rafah bombing July 11 2014

The musician Neil Young, who has made a career for himself as troubadour to progressive causes, was scheduled to perform in Tel Aviv next Saturday, July 19th. For months activists for the cultural boycott of Israel have been appealing to him not to throw away a lifetime of political cachet to become another jester for apartheid–in the same ignominious company as Bono, Elton John, & the Rolling Stones. Young refused to cancel &, according to a comment made to a fan, perhaps intended to give a little sermon on justice to his audience–from which Palestinians would be excluded.

Recently I posted to his fan page saying he would be singing in Tel Aviv–close enough to Gaza to provide the soundtrack for Israeli bombing & ethnic cleansing & in place of requiems at Palestinian funerals they would hear Young serenading the Israelis. I reminded him that the fight for social justice & social transformation is a collective commitment, not a grandstanding operation.

It didn’t look like Young was going to cancel from his certain encounter with disrepute but the war in Gaza has intervened to save his ass if not his reputation. The Tel Aviv concert organizers canceled the gig “due to rocket fire on Tel Aviv”. There is no indication whether he will re-schedule.

Young isn’t walking away from this shameful episode with his honor intact. He has all the resources necessary to thoroughly inform himself about Israeli apartheid & the Palestinian struggle. When you turn your back arrogantly on one of the most important political struggles of this era–at a moment of ethnic cleansing–we’re embarrassed for you, ashamed of you, & hope you don’t expect a warm reception at the next rally–or an invite.

This is a photo of Israeli bombing in Rafah, Gaza near the Egyptian border. It’s posted in place of a photo of Young. He was going to be putting music to this. From troubadour for justice to jester for apartheid: he can stuff his protest songs.

(Photo from Wall Street Journal)

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