Renowned English artist and music producer Brian Eno was deeply moved when he saw an image of a Palestinian father carrying the remains of his son in a plastic bag. The musician who once worked with bands including U2 and Coldplay couldn’t help but raise his voice and question America’s unconditional, all-out support for Israel.
“The America I know and like is compassionate, broad-minded, creative, eclectic, tolerant and generous,” he wrote. But wondered, “…which America is backing this horrible one-sided colonialist war?”
“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 asked.
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Eno is not the not the only one questioning blatant U.S. support for Israel. President Obama’s response to the violence that followed the alleged kidnapping of the three Israeli youth was at best lukewarm and thoroughly confusing. While he said he would back any diplomatic efforts for peace, he also expressed support for Israel’s “right” to defend itself.
So Israel has the right to defend itself. But against what one may ask?
Here’s what Eno says about it:
“As for the Peace Process: Israel wants the Process but not the Peace. While ‘the process’ is going on, the settlers continue grabbing land and building their settlements… and then when the Palestinians finally erupt with their pathetic fireworks they get hammered and shredded with state-of-the-art missiles and depleted uranium shells because Israel ‘has a right to defend itself’ (whereas Palestine clearly doesn’t). And the settler militias are always happy to lend a fist or rip up someone’s olive grove while the army looks the other way.”
Coincidence? Or something more?
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In his letter Eno also shared his experience from his visit to Israel a year ago and recalled the horrors he witnessed there. “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 on to their land; an Israeli settlement on top of a hill diverting its sewage directly down on to 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?’”
Brian Eno isn’t only the most recent celebrity who has spoken out so candidly over America’s support of Israel. He has some potent queries and so do others. But does President Obama have the answers?