When Thin Lizzie guitar legend Gary Moore died last month, nobody mentioned politics. A full-time musician since the age of 16, the Belfast man had never spoken a political word - except once, it now emerges, just a few months before his death.
On a tour of Russia, Moore announced that he couldn’t play in good conscience in Israel - a “criminal state” with “racist policies against the Palestinian people”.
He had been, perhaps, influenced by the growing list of performers supporting the BDS campaign - boycott, divestment and sanctions - in support of Palestinian rights. Elvis Costello, UB40, Carlos Santana, Gil Scott Heron, Roger Waters, the Pixies, Gorillaz, Klaxon etc., etc. had already signed up. Two hundred and ten Irish musicians, writers, artists and performers have likewise pledged support.
Depressing, then, although not wholly unexpected, that Bob Geldof has decided to accept an honorary doctorate from Ben Gurion University in Beer Sheva.
In an open letter to Geldof, Raymond Deane of the Irish-Palestinian Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) says: “You might consider that [late premier] David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s founding father, believed that Jews were ‘more intelligent and diligent’ than Arabs...and supported the compulsory transfer of indigenous Palestinians to clear space for an ethnic Jewish state...
“Ben-Gurion, after whom the university offering you this doctorate is named, thereby set down the template for an Israeli state premised on racism and ethnic cleansing.”
Geldof’s other engagement in Israel is at a conference of the Israel Forum for International Humanitarian Aid, where he is due to speak on - I kid you not - “Peace Through Sharing”.
If Deane receives a response to his open letter, I’ll let you know. But don’t be holding your breath, OK?
Read more from Eamonn McCann every Tuesday in the Journal