Thursday, 26 September 2013

When the wizard gets to me, I'm asking for a smaller heart

As a huge fan, I'm really disappointed to hear that, despite looking at the situation closely, Amanda Palmer has decided to cross the picket line of the Palestinian call for a cultural boycott of Israel and organise a gig in Tel Aviv.

I first came across Amanda Palmer around 2007; I was playing in a band with a couple of schoolfriends, and one of them suggested we play Coin Operated Boy. We weren't particularly good, but it was fun, and I borrowed the Dresden Dolls' whole discography at the time to listen to. 

Track forward a few years, and, after buying tickets to the gig when it was supposed to be in February, I had the honour for the first time of rocking out with AMANDA FUCKING PALMER live for myself earlier this month. It was at my partner's insistence that we got the tickets; she also backed the AFP kickstarter.

The stories of friends who had attended concerts left me with high expectations for the show; even so I was blown away. It was truly one of the most amazing gigs of my life. Although there was no crowd surfing pashes for me or my friends, at one point during 'Do It With A Rockstar' she did thrust the microphone into my mouth. I nearly fainted!

But I'd never be able to appreciate her music in the same way if she goes ahead with this gig. Simply taking a tour with Breaking the Silence, which she's cited as the reason she tipped to booking a gig, doesn't neutralise performing a public show in an apartheid state.

I hope Amanda (or anyone reading this) have read the PACBI website - if you haven't, you should really consider some of the arguments rebutting common reasons to break the boycott put here. Particularly worth reading in this context:

2. Why Not Boycott Other Human Rights Offenders Too?

...Israel is today the only state practicing a three-tiered system of oppression – occupation, colonization and apartheid – while being treated by Western states as part of their “democratic club” and, consequently, receiving unlimited political, economic, diplomatic, academic and cultural support from them. This entrenched and persistent Western complicity is precisely what perpetuates Israel’s colonial oppression and makes it a moral obligation for citizens of the West to endeavor to end their states’ respective complicity in Israel’s crimes. Striving to end collusion in human rights violations should be the absolute minimum that we expect from any conscientious artist or cultural worker.

I think AFP should go to Tel Aviv, and play for the kickstarter obligations. And I think she should take the tour with Breaking the Silence too. Visit the old city of Hebron, where a few hundred settlers terrorise the 10,000 Palestinian inhabitants in an attempt to ethnically cleanse the areas around the Ibrahim Mosque/Tomb of the Patriarchs. Visit Nablus, go through checkpoints where Palestinians are routinely denied entry while settlers are allowed to drive right though. Visit Bethlehem's 300 checkpoint at 4am, when Palestinian workers from the territories have to line up to try and get into Israel to start their jobs at 8am. If she is like me, then seeing these things for herself will break her heart and fill her with rage. If not, then I can respect that. Nonetheless, as someone who is totally on the right side of politics and who put on a 'Fuck Tony Abbott' T-shirt proferred by a fan during the signing after the gig, simply having that experience, documenting it, and sharing it with her fans will be a powerful thing.

But to play a public gig in Israel is to cross the picket line and say - this isn't cultural and religious apartheid, just another country with a few problems. And I would lose a lot of respect for Amanda Palmer and her amazing, challenging, uncompromising body of work if she does that.


  1. Did she ever respond directly to these protests against her concert? Other than that small blip in her blog beforehand.

    I'm a big fan of hers as well, but I just found out about this controversy and am trying to wrap my head around it, as doesn't seem like something she would do if she knew the facts.

    1. As far as I'm aware she never addressed the issue again, after performing the gig... but I haven't been paying that much attention since reading about her career now just makes me sad.