Below is an example of the appeals that Burdon received to remain true to his long-term hostility to racism and Jim Crow in the US South. SPSC deplore any threats made to Burdon, if there were any, and welcome his decision to follow in the tracks of Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Wonder, Elvis Costello, Carlos Santana, Gil Scott-Heron, Annie Lennox, the Pixies, Massive Attack and many others in refusing to perform in apartheid Israel. Another crack in the wall. He will now be warmly welcomed in Edinburgh tomorrow night.
"Under increasing pressure," Rock legend Eric Burdon has cancelled his scheduled gig in Tel Aviv on Thursday August 1st. According to Israeli daily, Haaretz, "he was pressured not to perform in Israel and ultimately chose to cancel the concert, which was to take place August 1. We are under increasing pressure" adding with no evidence that the pressure included "many threatening emails that we are receiving on a daily basis." Judge for yourself if there are any "threats" involved.
(Sent to Eric Burdon's manager on 14 July 2013)
Dear Eric Burdon
You are scheduled to perform a gig in Tel Aviv on August 1st.
Many of us have enjoyed your music for longer than we care to think about. Some are younger and have caught on more recently. By playing in Israel you will betray your lifelong opposition to racism, the kind of segregation that blighted the lives of so many black musicians in the US. Palestinian musicians are even less free to move, travel and play than were black musicians in the US South when you first moved to the US in the 60s, and when The Animals were driven out of Meridian, Mississippi by the local police and prevented from performing because they had a black assistant.
The present Israeli system of state-enforced racism is worse than the one you encountered in the 60s US Deep South. Many Palestinians are kept behind 25-foot walls and are regularly attacked by the Israeli equivalent of the KKK - illegal settlers - who burn farms, poison wells, kill animals and people. Like the KKK, these settlers are virtually never charged. Palestinians are imprisoned at a higher rate even than US Blacks, and are routinely tortured while incacerated.
You went to Bo Diddley's funeral and you know the racism he and his friends faced, e.g. when they used the swimming pool at a Las Vegas hotel and then saw an attendant replace the water so white folks could use the pool. Today in Israel/Palestine, millions of Palestinians are prevented from accessing the beaches of the Mediterranean that all Jews can use. Some of us have seen Palestinian friends turned away from the Dead Sea by a soldier, who said anyone could swim there except Palestinians. We refused to comply with such racism, of course, and so should you. Sometimes you have to not get in the water to stay clean.
Eric, are you aware that Palestinians who want to listen to you will be kept away by an illegal Wall and numerous cage-checkpoints? That's one reason why Roger Waters has called artists to boycott Israel "until Israel ends its occupation, grants full equality to Israeli Arabs and allows all Palestinian refugees right of return."
Stevie Wonder, Elvis Costello, Carlos Santana, Gil Scott-Heron, Annie Lennox, the Pixies, Massive Attack and many others have responded to the Palestinian appeal for boycott. Last year Bruce Springsteen paid tribute to you and the Animals as the most important influence on his own musical development. Springsteen has declined to perform in Israel; hopefully the positive influence can be two-way.
(He can't sing, but he is courageous and can think clearly; last month Stephen Hawking joined the boycott of Israel to support Palestinian human rights.)
Your opposition to the Vietnam War was strong and consistent; "If we didn't learn from Vietnam...God save us!" you warned. "I'm following my beliefs that we should learn how to diminish war so there is no need for Memorial Day." Yet now you will be playing in the most militarised state on earth, a nuclear-armed regional power that has attacked all its neighbours, some repeatedly, and is now threatening to attack Iran. Your visit will be used to tell Israel's supporters that life is 'normal' – and that Israel is able to continue the crimes and aggression with impunity.
To deny the Palestinian appeal for boycott of Israel is to betray your lifelong stand against racism. How can you play in a State that walls up a million and a half Palestinians in the Gaza concentration zone and frequently massacres many hundreds?
You say the track 'Old Habits Die Hard' was inspired "by civil disobedience...people I knew in Paris in 1968, who were on the barricades going against the vicious police." We're not asking you to go on the barricades, Eric, but you don't need to play gigs for those who viciously police an illegal occupation. Stay true to your lifelong hostility to racism; don't play apartheid Israel.
Yours in hope
on behalf of Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign
c/o Peace & Justice Centre
Edinburgh EH2 4BJ
00 44 131 620 0052
00 44 795 800 2591
Send this letter or a personalised variation to Eric Burdon via www.coordin8.org.uk