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Musicians Who've Taken Sides in Israel-Palestine Conflict

Musicians Who've Taken Sides in Israel-Palestine Conflict
Sayre Berman

To us mere plebeians, social media is often a voyeuristic peek into the glamorous idiocy of celebrity. We get to see their endless slew of selfies, obtain a first glance at whatever new thing they are trying to sell us, and we can chuckle at their all caps, poorly written rants on subpar first class travel or their odes to quinoa.

However, the terrible violence and escalating death toll in Palestine and Israel have seen some celebs taking to social networking sites seriously to offer their thoughts on the crisis -- with mixed results. Rihanna and Selena Gomez quickly deleted or altered their tweets within minutes of posting last week, despite that fact neither were particularly controversial. Pearl Jam frontman, Eddie Vedder, was branded "anti-Israel" by the Jerusalem Post after comments he made about Israeli settlements. Vedder then took to the band's website to state, "Attempting to make a plea for more peace in the world at a rock concert ... is not something I'm going to stop any time soon."

This is not a recent phenomenon. Stars who have articulated their positions on the conflict in Israel and Palestine have received as much of the ire of their fans as they have their support. Here are a few.

Lupe Fiasco

Lupe Fiasco has referenced his support of Palestine on a number of tracks, perhaps most memorably in 2011's "Words I Never Said" in which he takes aim at Israel and America's policy in the area: "Gaza strip was getting bombed, Obama didn't say shit," he spits, while also taking on Muslim fundamentalism, "Jihad is not a holy war, where's that in the worship/Murdering is not Islam!"

Later that year, the rapper appeared at the B.E.T. Hip Hop Awards with Erykah Badu wearing a Palestinian flag. For some reason, two years later, Fiasco was invited to perform at a D.C. inaugural event for Obama and had to be escorted off the stage after he repeated his politically inflammatory lyrics to an unsuspecting audience.

 

Coldplay

In June 2011, bland rockers Coldplay posted a link to a "Freedom for Palestine" video by the band OneWorld -- a collective of musicians, artists, campaign groups, and charities working to raise awareness of the Israeli presence in Palestine. With lyrics like, "It could be you and your family/forced from your home and your history," soundtracking images of Israeli army checkpoints and security fences. The posting didn't go down well with some of Chris Martin and co.'s fanbase.

Despite receiving 6,000 likes on their Facebook page, the post received 12,000 comments, some calling for Coldplay boycotts and leading to the creation of a Facebook page demanding an apology to Israel from the band. The other side took to commenting too with lines like: "Zionism is racism" and "Israel is an apartheid state."

Glen Beck labelled the song "propaganda" and began to cry -- so, not a total loss then.

Gene Simmons

KISS rocker Simmons, son of an Auschwitz concentration camp survivor, was born in Israel in 1949, his family immigrating to Queens eight years later. In recent years, he has lent some support to the Israeli cause, sending a televised message to an IDF soldier (and KISS fan) wounded in the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah War.

In 2011, Simmons returned to Israel for the first time in 51 years to film episodes for his reality TV show. During the visit, he made some pro-Israel comments: "As an American, there's no choice but to be supportive of Israel," Simmons said. "This is the Holy Land, and it's no secret that everybody in America perceives Israel as its only real friend in the Middle East. Who else are you going to rely on?"

Simmons seemed sure that Israel would always have a friend in Uncle Sam, saying, "Do you ever doubt that if anything threatened Israel's existence that the US would come to its defense with all of it nuclear capabilities? I don't."

Last year, Simmons sparked outrage on Australian radio offering a diatribe against Islam, stating that dogs were treated better than Muslim women. "This is a vile culture and if you think for a second that it's willing to just live in the sands of God's armpit, you've got another thing coming," the rocker ranted, much to the ire of many listeners. A scramble to "clarify" and "provide context" for the comments followed.

 

Roger Waters

The Pink Floyd legend has long been a critic of Israel, but has grown more vocal recently. Last year, Waters was condemned in some quarters for using a pig-shaped balloon adorned with Jewish symbols as one of the stage effects in his performance of Pink Floyd's seminal album, The Wall. Waters responded by saying that these were just a few of several religious and political symbols in the show and stressed that it was not an attempt to single out Judaism as an evil force.

Then, the Floyd songsmith made inflammatory remarks to online political mag Counterpunch comparing the modern Israeli state to Nazi Germany. "There were many people that pretended that the oppression of the Jews was not going on from 1933 until 1946," Waters said. "So this is not a new scenario. Except that this time it's the Palestinian people being murdered." Several Jewish groups, including the Anti-Defamation League, were outraged, accusing Waters of anti-Semitism.

More recently, Waters posted a note he sent to fellow legend Neil Young on Facebook. The note urges his friend to cancel a forthcoming Tel Aviv show because of the policies of the Israeli government. Bandmate Nick Mason joined Waters, when the two Pink Floyd founders also urged the Rolling Stones to do likewise, stating, "Playing Israel now is the moral equivalent of playing Sun City at the height of South African apartheid."

Mick n' Keef played on. However, the Neil Young and Crazy Horse show was cancelled by police this week, tensions were so high that their performance had been deemed "unsafe."

John Lydon

Surprisingly to some, the former Sex Pistol refused to boycott Israel as some of his contemporaries were calling on him to when Public Image Ltd played a festival there in 2010. "If Elvis-fucking-Costello wants to pull out of a gig in Israel because he's suddenly got this compassion for Palestinians, then good on him," Lydon told the British press. "But I have absolutely one rule, right? Until I see an Arab country, a Muslim country, with a democracy, I won't understand how anyone can have a problem with how they're treated."

Punk purists saw this is as Lydon abandoning some of the principals that had made him such a vital, visceral, and vilified figure in the past. Lydon didn't agree, playing up the nihilist streak that epitomized "Anarchy in the U.K." and other Pistols' classics. "I mean, I'm anti-government," Lydon retorted, "I have been all my life no matter where I go -- and I shall be making that loud and clearly proud once I'm in Israel."

According to British newspaper, The Independent, one fan emailed PiL's manager, declaring, "I will destroy all my albums and paraphernalia that I have collected over the years if you bastards play that hellhole."

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