Enlarge

Testament Come Under Fire for Decision to Play Israel

0

Testament have come under fire from some of the band’s fans for deciding to play a show in Tel Aviv, Israel earlier this week.

The controversy started when guitarist Eric Peterson posted a photo on Instagram in which he and bassist Steve Di Giorgio can be seen posing with several women in the Israeli military (for those unaware, Israeli citizens [with some exceptions] are required to serve in the military after they turn 18; two years and eight months of service for men, and two years for women). Di Giorgio shared the post on both his Instagram and Facebook profiles, resulting in a whole lot of opportunity for internet outrage. Predictably, the photo sparked an outcry from fans who accused both Peterson and Di Giorgio of glorifying Israeli’s use of military force and violence against Palestinians, and questioned the band’s decision to play in Israel at a time when some very high-profile international artists have taken up a performance boycott in the country.

Alex Skolnick, ever the intellectual (and himself of Jewish heritage), stepped into the fray last night to play mediator, issuing one of the most well-reasoned, thoughtful responses to ANY political issue I’ve seen in some time in the metal world. The tl;dr version is this: his bandmates should’ve known what they were getting into by posting/sharing that photo so the backlash they received is on them, but passionate Israeli metalheads deserve the opportunity to see Testament live in spite of their government’s policies (which they likely don’t even agree with).

Here’s his statement, posted along with a photo of the band holding up the Israeli flag after their show, edited slightly for formatting clarity:

“’Great night in Tel Aviv! First time, amazing crowd. Looking forward to next time!”’

“I wish that were all that needs to be said. However… Unlike a couple friendly bandmates of mine — thrown for a loop by the subsequent rage-comments underneath pics of themselves posing with a team of young Israeli women in uniforms fulfilling their required service in the IDF — I’m anticipating blowback.

“Now before you launch into accusations of my being a “supporter of the occupation,” “Zionist sympathizer,” etc… let’s look at a few things that are simultaneously true:

“* The symbol within this flag — the Star of David — is both a symbol of the Nation of Israel and a symbol of Jewish heritage. One can be proud of the star within and simultaneously feel appalled by some actions by the State of Israel and the behavior of certain segments of the population. I am and I do.

“* One can be a massive fan of Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters (I am), yet still consider his call for a “cultural boycott” of Israel — and thus depriving its general population of music (which can be the best voice for change) — among the worst ideas you’ve ever heard. I do. (A pop artist who recently bowed to pressure from Waters — Lorde — canceled an Israel date yet went ahead with a concert in the Philippines on the same tour just after their leader, Duterte, committed a massacre of civilians there, highlighting the selectiveness of Waters and the BDS movement).

“* A flag can be both a symbol of a nation’s government and a symbol of that nation’s people. “The People” includes those who oppose their own government (including the Likud party and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whom I too oppose with a vengeance). However, all the people should not be judged by the worst transgressions of their own government (I’m not too keen on all the things done in the name of my country’s flag: preemptive war, Japanese internment, Indian displacement, slavery… I could go on… but it’s still my flag).

“*One can wade into these issues knowing it will piss off folks on all sides, friends, fans and otherwise. And one can decide to go ahead and do so anyway.

“Shalom/Salam/Peace”

There’s really not much anyone can say to disagree with Alex after that; he closed every possible loophole right up. As someone who currently lives in a country in which I’m “appalled by some actions” of our leaders and government, I can totally relate: Americans have a horrible reputation abroad because of our current administration, but the views of that administration most certainly do not represent all of this country’s people. Further, it’d be incredibly twisted logic if bands from other countries decided not to play the U.S. in protest of our government’s policies; those two things are not related. If anything, like Alex is saying, music can be the best voice for change.

Finally, how perfect is Skolnick’s closing statement? Standing up, knowing full well it’s a dicey topic, going for it anyway and accepting responsibility, Thank you, Alex.

“Great night in Tel Aviv! First time, amazing crowd. Looking forward to next time!” I wish that were all that needs to be said. However… Unlike a couple friendly bandmates of mine – thrown for a loop by the subsequent rage-comments underneath pics of themselves posing with a team of young Israeli women in uniforms fulfilling their required service in the IDF – I’m anticipating blowback. Now before you launch into accusations of my being a “supporter of the occupation,” “Zionist sympathizer,” etc…let’s look at a few things that are simultaneously true. * The symbol within this flag – the Star of David – is both a symbol of the Nation of Israel and a symbol of Jewish heritage. One can be proud of the star within and simultaneously feel appalled by some actions by the State of Israel and the behavior of certain segments of the population – I am and I do.* One can be a massive fan of Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters (I am), yet still consider his call for a “cultural boycott” of Israel – and thus depriving its general population of music (which can be the best voice for change) – among the worst ideas you’ve ever heard – I do (A pop artist who recently bowed to pressure from Waters – Lorde – canceled an Israel date yet went ahead with a concert in the Philippines on the same tour just after their leader, Duterte, committed a massacre of civilians there, highlighting the selectiveness of Waters & the BDS movement). * A flag can be both a symbol of a nation’s government and a symbol of that nation’s people. “The People” includes those who oppose their own government (including the Likud party and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – whom I too oppose with a vengeance). However, all the people should not be judged by the worst transgressions of their own government (I’m not too keen on all the things done in the name of my country’s flag – preemptive war, Japanese internment, Indian displacement, slavery…I could go on…but it’s still my flag). *One can wade into these issues knowing it will piss off folks on all sides, friends, fans and otherwise. And one can decide to go ahead and do so anyway. Shalom/Salam/Peace

A post shared by Alex Skolnick (@alexskolnick) on

Metal Sucks Greatest Hits