INTERVIEWS, REVIEWS & RELATED ARTICLES
Pitchfork AUGUST 6, 2014 - by Jeremy Gordon
BRIAN ENO WRITES ANOTHER LETTER ABOUT PALESTINE
"It isn't just about Israel for me, but about what my government is doing in my name."
Last week, Brian Eno wrote a letter about the conflict between Palestine and Israel that was posted on David Byrne's website. "Why does America continue its blind support of this one-sided exercise in ethnic cleansing?" he asked, while also comparing Israel to the Ku Klux Klan. Eno's friend, Peter Schwartz, published a letter in response, also on Byrne's website, in which he broke down the historical context and laid the blame at both sides.
Now, Eno has written a letter in response to Schwartz, posted by Stop The War Coalition. In it, he addresses concerns that singling out Israel, when many other countries commit atrocities, could be fuelled by anti-semitism:
It isn't just about Israel for me, but about what my government is doing in my name. The money we pay in taxes is helping to support this situation. I can see all the reasons you've listed as to why our respective governments have ended up with the stances they have, but understanding isn't the same as condoning. I want to make it clear to them that "A lot of your citizens don't support you." This is what I understand as democratic participation, civic responsibility.
My main point is to pick the fights you can win. Whereas I don't have any instruments at all with which to affect Sudanese politics (even if I wanted to), I do have some power to change the way that Britain relates to Israel. Why would I want to do that? Because unlike you, I don't see the Middle East as a lost cause. Israel, unlike the other countries you mention, claims to be like us, part of the Western First World, part of the same set of moral assumptions - and many Israelis (though apparently not the ones in government) are.
He further asserts that it's his civic responsibility to protest against his government's implicit condoning of the violence:
How do you think it looks to the rest of the world when they see Israel mincing the Palestinians in Gaza and then discover that America is (still) giving them about eighteen million dollars in military aid each day - while righteously proclaiming about Human Rights?
And how do they feel when they see Tony Blair receiving a million dollar Peace Prize from some Israeli institution presumably for managing to remain completely unresponsive to the Palestinians?
It looks terrible - sheer, unvarnished hypocrisy. It makes you understand why Arabs can hate us (though I'm continually surprised by how few do). One of the reasons I want to demonstrate is to say "Don't judge us by our governments" - which is one of the things that Israeli Jews say to me. You probably think it hopelessly idealistic, but I think it does make a difference when people see that the other people - the ones they're supposed to hate - are objecting to what is being done in their names.
Read the full letter here.
In related news, Eno's recent album with Karl Hyde, High Life, will be available on vinyl on August 25 via Warp. It will include two extra songs: digital exclusive Slow Down, Sit Down And Breathe and the previously unreleased On A Grey Day.