As my interview with Robert del Naja, which appeared in last week’s magazine, has generated quite a bit of debate on the NS website, readers might be interested in some further thoughts from the Massive Attack frontman on why he has joined the cultural boycott of Israel:
The main reason I will not play Israel at this time is out of frustration. In my opinion, Israel has the right to its security in as much as the Palestinians have the right to resist occupation. Israel has the power in this perpetual stalemate, as it also has the power to break it and begin a meaningful peace process. Surely, to stop rocket attacks you freeze settlement building and ease the economic shackles. To expect Hamas to recognise [Israel’s] legitimacy, you open a meaningful dialogue on the right of return of refugees and their national legitimacy – then, I feel, you may have a chance to sit everybody at the table and remove the need for further armed struggle, remembering and respecting that this is an occupied land looking for the right of its own sovereignty.
If the EU and the US pressured Israel for change and forced the end of the blockade, we might get somewhere. That pressure should also come culturally, with from without and within. So it doesn’t sit right for me to go back to Tel Aviv while there is a giant wall and an economic stranglehold on a whole nation of people.
Massive Attack have played in Israel twice before, as well as in Lebanon and Syria. The band have also played a number of gigs to support the Hoping Foundation, which works with young Palestinian refugees, after del Naja met Karma Nabulsi, the charity’s co-founder, at a Primal Scream benefit gig in 2005. Del Naja sees Hoping’s work as a way of lending the band’s support in a way that would produce tangible results: “Hoping went beyond [the politics] and dealt with the issues,” he told me.
I also asked del Naja if the rest of his band were behind the boycott:
Absolutely. All of us feel very dismayed and saddened by [the ongoing conflict] and frustrated that Britain doesn’t seem to be able to put together a coherent foreign policy in the region and do something positive.