Inside Israel

Former Lead Guitarist of Mumford & Sons: BDS Are “Ruthless Malevolent Actors”

Winston Marshall, the former lead guitarist of Mumford & Sons, has written a piece in the Jewish Chronicle slamming the BDS Movement, following Big Chief’s capitulation to them.

Here is just an excerpt, which should tell you the entire thing is worth reading:

Therein lies the truth about BDS. For it is BDS and not Big Thief who are the villains in this tale. They are not interested in healing. They are not interested in conflict-resolution. It’s clear enough on their website: “The BDS movement does not advocate for a particular solution to the conflict and does not call for either a ‘one state solution’ or a ‘two state solution’.”

More alarming still is their statement of intent. It cites “ending [Israel’s] occupation and colonisation of all Arab lands”, which is a coded denial of Israel’s right to exist.

If there was ever any doubt about the group’s priorities, in successfully dissuading Big Thief from performing a fundraiser for Palestinians, surely now we can all see them for the ruthless malevolent actors they are.

BDS organisers are so blinded by their political ambitions that they lose their sense of humanity. I’m familiar with how BDS works. Some years ago, a friend and musical collaborator, Senegalese singer Baaba Maal, was due to perform in Jerusalem. Baaba is a Muslim, I might add. Within days of his announcing the show, a BDS activist managed to call me on my (personal) phone, urging me to dissuade Baaba from doing the show. He told me that he would happily do it himself, if I preferred, I just had to put him in touch with Baaba. Suffice to say Baaba, unlike others, apparently still believes that music does have the power to heal. The shows went ahead.

Baaba is not the only musician to show pluck in the face of the BDS bullying. Australian singer Nick Cave, a lone, lambent light on so many issues, performed there in 2017. In so doing, he said he took “a principled stand against anyone who tries to censor and silence musicians”, adding: “So really, you could say, in a way, that the BDS made me play Israel.” But most suffer the same BDS intimidation tactics as Big Thief. It is a compelling (if formulaic) play in three parts. Act One: Artist announces show, often acknowledging Palestinian plight and usually offering support. Act Two: Social Media storms, BDS activists swarm. Act Three: show gets cancelled.

I’ve been to Israel and Palestine a couple of times. I once DJed a festival in Bethlehem, Palestine, to a few hundred locals (I felt no pushback from Israelis, I note), and some Israelis who crossed the border. I know well that the troubles there are of a complexity and age both deep and endless.

But I also believe (and on this occasion I don’t mind sounding cheesy) that music heals. I suspect that BDS will continue to penetrate the arts. Above all, I know that the real losers from this latest BDS victory are the ever-suffering Palestinians.

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