Excerpts of Vedder's impassioned aside seemed to reference the occupation of Palestine and the financial and military aid Israel receives from the United States:
“I swear to fucking god, there are people out there who are looking for a reason to kill. They’re looking for a reason to go across borders and take over land that doesn’t belong to them. They should get the fuck out, and mind their own fucking business. We don’t want to give them our money. We don’t want to give them our taxes to drop bombs on children.”
Uproar from fans led to the cancellation of a social media campaign spearheaded by disc jockey Ben Red to bring the band to Israel. The Israeli radio personality condemned Vedder on his Facebook page: “You are invited not to come here. I personally do not want to see you, and I will erase the Facebook page calling on bringing [Pearl Jam] to Israel, but not before I expose who you really are.”
The response has led the singer to post an unspecific if not immediately apologetic letter on the band's website. (His backtracking resembles Rihanna's, who deleted a "#FreePalestine" tweet and replaced it with a more conciliatory message.)
Opening with a quote from "Imagine" by John Lennon, Vedder's note suggests that his onstage behaviour was motivated by a distaste for war in general:
"With about a dozen assorted ongoing conflicts in the news everyday, and with the stories becoming more horrific, the level of sadness becomes unbearable...War hurts. It hurts no matter which sides the bombs are falling on."
He also clarifies remarks he made at the beginning of his speech, insisting that the current proliferation of war is out of step with mankind's achievements:
"We are such a remarkable species. Capable of creating beauty. Capable of awe-inspiring advancements. We must be capable of resolving conflicts without bloodshed."
On Wednesday July 16, five days after Vedder stood onstage at Milton Keynes, Israeli gunboats shelled a beach resort in Gaza in front of international journalists, killing four children. According to the UN, 80% of Palestinians killed during Israel's current offensive have been civilians.
(remarks begin at 4:10)