As the third week of Israel's latest siege of Gaza continues, its military has bombed the city's mosques, hospitals, schools and the city's sole power plant as part of a "pinpoint operation" ostensibly targeting Hamas operatives and weaponry. It has instead incurred massive civilian casualties which the UN believes constitute war crimes.
Yesterday David Byrne published an email on his website he had received from Brian Eno. The ambient music pioneer blasts Israel as well as the support it receives from the United States, which he says "is like sending money to the Klan":
"The America I know and like is compassionate, broadminded, creative, eclectic, tolerant and generous. You, my close American friends, symbolise those things for me. But which America is backing this horrible one-sided colonialist war? I can't work it out: I know you're not the only people like you, so how come all those voices aren't heard or registered? How come it isn't your spirit that most of the world now thinks of when it hears the word 'America'? How bad does it look when the one country which more than any other grounds its identity in notions of Liberty and Democracy then goes and puts its money exactly where its mouth isn't and supports a ragingly racist theocracy?"
He also describes what he saw on a trip to Jerusalem:
"I was in Israel last year with Mary. Her sister works for UNWRA in Jerusalem. Showing us round were a Palestinian - Shadi, who is her sister's husband and a professional guide - and Oren Jacobovitch, an Israeli Jew, an ex-major from the IDF who left the service under a cloud for refusing to beat up Palestinians. Between the two of them we got to see some harrowing things - Palestinian houses hemmed in by wire mesh and boards to prevent settlers throwing shit and piss and used sanitary towels at the inhabitants; Palestinian kids on their way to school being beaten by Israeli kids with baseball bats to parental applause and laughter; a whole village evicted and living in caves while three settler families moved onto their land; an Israeli settlement on top of a hill diverting its sewage directly down onto Palestinian farmland below; The Wall; the checkpoints… and all the endless daily humiliations. I kept thinking, 'Do Americans really condone this? Do they really think this is OK? Or do they just not know about it?'"
Byrne also published a response from Eno's friend Peter Schwartz. He says that "Israel has lost its way and commits horrors in the interest of their own survival, but goes on to clumsily gloss over the erasure caused by the Balfour Declaration and paints Arabs and Persians as violent racists at any opportunity that may serve his argument.