Brian Eno: Giving Israel Money Is ‘Like Sending Money to the Klan’

Music producer Brian Eno answers questions during a news conference in St. Petersburg November 29, 2010.
Music producer Brian Eno answers questions during a news conference in St. Petersburg November 29, 2010. REUTERS/Alexander Demianchuk. Alexander Demianchuk/Reuters

Acclaimed producer and musical artist Brian Eno has written a letter accusing Israel of ethnic cleansing and asking why the United States would continue to support what he considers “a ragingly racist theocracy.”

The letter was sent as an email to a number of friends, including frequent collaborator David Byrne, who decided to publish it on his website. Byrne included a lengthy response by friend Peter Schwartz, who criticizes Israel but includes greater historical context for the crisis.

Eno begins by describing a graphic photo of a Palestinian man holding a carrier bag containing his son’s remains.

He goes on to blast Israel for “straightforward old-school racism” and writes that supporting the country is “like sending money to the [Ku Klux] Klan.” The target of much of his anger is the United States for supporting Israel, though he admits he doesn’t understand the reason for that support:

What is going on in America? I know from my own experience how slanted your news is, and how little you get to hear about the other side of this story. But—for Christ's sake!—it's not that hard to find out. Why does America continue its blind support of this one-sided exercise in ethnic cleansing? WHY? I just don't get it. I really hate to think its just the power of AIPAC… for if that's the case, then your government really is fundamentally corrupt. No, I don't think that's the reason… but I have no idea what it could be. 

Israel maintains that it has taken military action in response to rockets from the terrorist group Hamas, which Eno dismisses as “pathetic fireworks.”

“This is beyond politics,” he writes in his conclusion. “It's us squandering the civilisational capital that we've built over generations.”

The musician, who has produced acclaimed records by Talking Heads, U2 and dozens of others, has been known to voice opposition to Israel in the past. In 2009, he criticized Israelis for “recapitulating their own history as though they’ve forgotten it” at a rally in London. More recently, he co-signed a letter in The Guardian opposing Israeli military action.

In his follow-up letter, Peter Schwartz argues that “Israel will destroy Judaism" but criticizes those who call out Israel while ignoring "other moral horrors."

“What's clear is that no one has the moral high ground,” Byrne writes in his introduction to the two letters.