For 14 years I had held my breath, hoping you would continue to spare Israel from your withering tirades. Ever since the first time I listened to the album “Binaural”, Pearl Jam has occupied a space in my heart that no other band can fill. I was a Tenclub member; I taught myself to play guitar with your songs; I forced a succession of girlfriends to watch the “Touring Band 2000” DVD. I even wore an olive green jacket and tried to grow a beard well before that was a good idea. I attended nine concerts, which I know for a “real” Pearl Jam fan is a pitiful amount. I would have gone to more had I not moved to Israel in 2006.
I still bought the new albums and read the concert chronology, and saw Pearl Jam cover bands in Tel Aviv (“Lost Dogs” was my favorite). Before entering the Gaza Strip with my infantry unit during Operation Cast Lead, the last song I listened to on my i-pod was “Off He Goes”. I know, I know, the meaning of that song didn’t apply to my situation. I’ll forgive your misconceptions if you forgive mine.
All the while, I knew I would not be seeing Pearl Jam in Israel. I knew you would never perform in a country whose government had policies you abhorred (unless that country was the US, the UK, Canada, or any of the other NATO members with troops in Afghanistan). I knew the extent of your knowledge of Israel was molded by such un-biased scholars as your friends Noam Chomsky and Howard Zinn.
I was thankful that you saved your nightly encore-break moralizing for domestic issues. That you were pro-Palestinian was never in doubt, but I took your silence on the matter as a sign of respect for the complexity of the conflict. Now that you’ve broken the truce, I can finally say the following:
Eddie, you are not virtuous for declaring safe opinions to throngs of obsequious fans, fans who would cheer just as loudly if you had been reading them the label of a ketchup bottle. It is not courageous to talk trash when you’re the only one with the microphone. Try having more civil discussions with people who are not in your far-left echo chamber. Try to understand people who think differently than you.
The older I get, and the less I care about being “cool”, the harder it gets for me to reconcile your artistic genius with your boorish politics. Thanks for the memories, Eddie. Off I go.