Sir Tom Jones this week spoke out against the campaign urging musicians to boycott Israel – and revealed that talks are already underway for him to return to the country where he performed just last month, writes Justin Cohen.
In a fresh blow for those advocating a boycott, the Sex Bomb singer told the Jewish News he was fully aware of the online clamour to cancel his October gigs in Tel Aviv but insisted he never considered giving in to the pressure that have caused other performers to stay away.
He said in an exclusive interview: “I was in Israel two weeks ago where a lot of singers won’t go (because of the boycott campaign). I don’t agree with that. I think entertainers should entertain. They should go wherever, there shouldn’t be any restrictions. That’s why I went there. I did two shows in Tel Aviv and it was fantastic.” He added: “I wanted to go because the Israeli people have asked me. They would like me to go and sing and I don’t see any problem in doing that. I don’t see why anyone would mix up the two things – entertainment and politics.”
The legendary Welsh crooner went ahead with his first visit to Israel in more than a decade at the end of last month, despite the Cardiff Palestine Solidarity Campaign’s petition urging him to cancel garnering 2,000 signatures . “Please don’t whitewash Israel’s apartheid policies against Palestinians,” the petition read. “A performance in Israel today is akin to a performance in apartheid South Africa.”
In August, former Pink Floyd frontman Roger Waters wrote an open letter calling on “my brothers and sisters in the family of Rock and Roll” to join a culture boycott of Israel by refusing to perform or exhibit there or accept any “funding from any institution linked to the government of Israel, until such time as Israel complies with international law and universal principles of human rights”.
While acknowledging that “not all entertainers are the same and some feel strongly about certain politics or countries”, with decisions on whether to perform being down to those individuals, he said: “I believe entertainment should be for everyone and there shouldn’t be restrictions.”
Saying he was “so glad I went”, Sir Tom revealed he’d “definitely” like to perform there again. “They’re already talking about it. The promoter that took me out there said we’d like you back next week if we could.”
His comments to the Jewish News came during Monday’s Norwood annual dinner in central London, when he joined rock and roll band The Autistix– featuring three autistic young adults – for an impromptu performance that brought the house down. “It’s a great charity and whatever I can do I will,” he said before his surprise invitation to join the band on stage. “I live in Los Angeles and over there the Jewish community do much for charity. Of course I’m from Great Britain and I started seeing Jewish charities first hand in the 60s. I’ve always been supportive.”