Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder has been accused of anti-Semitism after an onstage rant about war which was seen by some to be pro-Palestinian.
He stopped the band’s show in Milton Keynes at the weekend to make an impassioned plea for peace – and while he didn’t directly reference the current attacks and counter-attacks between Israeli and Palestinian forces in the Middle-east, many felt that’s what he was referring to.
Speaking to the audience, Vedder said: “We can have this many people having a peaceful time. We can have modern technology. We can reach our friends. At the same time something this positive is happening, not even that far away, they’re fucking dropping bombs on each other. What the fucking fuck?
“I swear to fucking God, there are people out there who are looking for a reason to kill. They’re looking for a reason to go across borders and take over land that doesn’t belong to them. They should get the fuck out, and mind their own fucking business.
“Everyone wants the same goddamn thing – to have children, eat, procreate, draw a painting, make some art, listen to music… everyone’s the fucking same. So why are people at war? Stop the fucking shit now. We don’t want to give them our money. We don’t want to give them our taxes to drop bombs on children. No more.”
While some fans reacted positively to his words, others responded by accusing him of having anti-Jewish beliefs. Spin reports that an Israeli DJ, who’d been campaigning for Pearl Jam to visit his country, announced he’d changed his mind and decided instead to “expose who you really are.”
Vedder has replied via an open letter on the band website, saying: “With about a dozen ongoing conflicts in the news every day, and with the stories becoming more horrific, the level of sadness becomes unbearable. What becomes of our planet when that sadness becomes apathy? Because we feel helpless; we turn our heads and turn the page.”
But he continues: “Currently I’m full of hope. That hope springs from the multitudes of people that our band has been fortunate enough to play for. To see flags of so many different nations, and to have these huge crowds gathered peacefully and joyfully, is the exact inspiration behind the words I felt the need to emphatically relay.
“When attempting to make a plea for more peace in the world at a rock concert, we are reflecting the feelings of all those we have come in contact with so we may all have a better understanding of each other.”
Insisting he won’t stop reacting the way he has done, even if some believe he’s being naive, he adds: “I don’t know how to reconcile the peaceful rainbow of flags we see each night at our concerts with the daily news of a dozen global conflicts and their horrific consequences. I don’t know how to process the feeling of guilt and complicity when I hear about the deaths of a civilian family from a US drone strike. But I know we can’t let the sadness turn into apathy. And I know we are better off when we reach out to each other.
“War hurts. It hurts no matter which sides the bombs are falling on.”