EDDIE VEDDER: Pearl Jam’s Milton Keynes ‘Controversy’, the “Israel Diatribe” & The Jerusalem Post’s Attack…

Pearl Jam: Milton Keynes Bowl 2014 official poster

Something I’ve been meaning to mention, something I feel quite strongly about: specifically Eddie Vedder and Pearl Jam having caused “controversy” after their appearance at the Milton Keynes Bowl in England last month, due to a perceived “anti-Israel diatribe”.

I was there, by the way; and it was a great show. 3 hours of absolute Pearl Jam, with everything from Footsteps, Go, Given To Fly, Hail Hail, Do The Evolution, Rearviewmirror, Jeremy, Alive, even the Mother Love Bone staple Crown of Thorns, and generally the kind of set-list inclusions that you’d dream of.

It had a couple of off moments performance-wise, but when a band of Pearl Jam’s quality and stature plays for three hours you don’t complain.

On top of all that, Eddie came out really early before the first support act and treated us to a solo rendition of Porch too, so the Ved was in generous form. Being the closing show of a major European tour, the mood was loose and relaxed and this perhaps lent itself to Eddie later feeling like he could speak openly on the subject of war.

Nothing shocking about that; anyone who knows and understands Vedder and Pearl Jam knows Eddie the Pacifist and Eddie the Anti-War activist. So how did a simple segway in the middle of Daughter turn into a minor international ‘incident’ that’s ended up costing Pearl Jam a whole bunch of fans and led to numerous truly retarded remarks in comments sections about Vedder being ‘anti-Semitic’ or worse?

I watched that rant live; and it’s baffled me that something that seemed so innocuous and well-meaning at the time has been blown up into such a controversy. Firstly Eddie didn’t mention Israel by name, rather it was a general statement about war. But even if he was to mention Israel by name, so what? Since when is a conscientious, highly politicised rock musician expected not to speak out against war?

I mean if it had been John Lennon singing Give Peace a Chance, would that have been condemned in the Israeli media as “an anti-Israel diatribe”?

According to The Jerusalem Post article which was where the trouble started; “Eddie Vedder unleashed a harsh anti-Israel diatribe on stage during his band’s concert at Milton Keynes Bowl in England“.

Although he never explicitly mentions Israel by name, Eddie does denounce “those who go across borders and take over land that doesn’t belong to them”; so OK, given the timing, that could understandably be construed as a reference to Israel’s bombing of the Gaza Strip. The line that probably caused certain people to think Vedder was referring to Israel was “We don’t want to give them our taxes to drop bombs on children” – which implies a reference to the US government’s well known support and funding of Israel and its military.

“They’re looking for a reason to go across borders and take over land that doesn’t belong to them,” Vedder said, during the performance of Daughter. “They should get the f—out and mind their own f—ing business.”

What’s curious to me is how quickly The Jerusalem Post picked up on it and jumped all over it, turning it into such an ‘incident’, when really it was nothing out of the ordinary. It’s almost suspicious how much the journalist in question seemed to want to make something out of it. Paranoia springs to mind. All kinds of public figures have criticised the Israeli military or the situation in Gaza for years, and Vedder didn’t even specify Israel or Gaza in his comments; so why so quick to single him out?

Would the same article have been written about, say, Rage Against the Machine or Public Enemy? Or is Vedder singled out as more of a ‘soft’ target?

What’s even more extraordinary is some of the reaction from so-called Pearl Jam “fans”, specifically Israeli fans, some of whom have ‘denounced’ Vedder and Pearl Jam and made comments along the lines ‘not being able’ to listen to Pearl Jam CDs anymore. Lots of Israeli fans of Pearl Jam who’d previously been involved in a social media campaign aimed at bringing the Seattle legends to Israel to perform shows have essentially boycotted the band. I can’t imagine Pearl Jam would want to play in Israel after this anyway; Vedder’s old friend Neil Young has already cancelled his shows that were due to be played in the country last month and has stated he’ll only return to the country when both Israel and Palestine are free.

 Pearl Jam Milton Keynes 2014 

Most conspicuously Ben Red, a rock DJ for Israel Radio’s music station 88FM ‘denounced’ Vedder on his Facebook page. “Eddie Vedder, your true face is finally being revealed,” the DJ wrote. “You are invited not to come here. I personally do not want to see you and I will erase the Facebook page calling on bringing Pearl Jam to Israel, but not before I expose who you really are.”

Not before I really expose who you are?

Who the fuck is Ben Red? And what self-respecting ‘rock DJ’ is pro-war anyway? Eddie Vedder isn’t hiding anything that requires being exposed – he pretty much stated everything openly on stage, with a bottle of wine in his hand; that’s what got him into this trouble in the first place.

What a remarkable age we live in when the most genuine, liberal, well-meaning rock star on the planet makes a simple anti-war statement and ends up being boycotted by numerous ‘fans’ for it.

Again, there’s nothing new in anti-war sentiments from Eddie Vedder – he’s always done that. The implication therefore is that the same ‘fans’ who’re lashing out at him now were perfectly happy to be fans of the anti-war Vedder while he was talking about other wars or about the US War in Iraq (which he did on numerous occasions), for example, but are unwilling to listen or tolerate it when he is perceived to be talking about their army’s actions.

I mean there may have been American PJ fans who turned against the band and Vedder when he made comments about US military activity abroad, but I doubt there were that many – because it’s generally understood in a liberal society that artists and musicians of Eddie Vedder’s kind are going to make political or social comments every now and then and have every business doing so when they feel strongly; whether that means speaking about war, speaking about civil liberties or speaking about Pro Choice, to cite a few examples.

And even if there were any American PJ fans who turned against the band or Vedder for any perceived ‘unpatriotic’ views or statements, it was never turned into a big deal like has been the case with this perceived ‘anti-Israel diatribe’.

Reading the comments sections of anything is usually an amusing past-time anyway (it’s the ultimate modern forum for discovering how fucking stupid people are; and how passionately stupid, at that), but perusing some of the comment sections in regard to Vedder’s Milton Keynes statements has been extraordinary, with people calling Vedder an ‘anti-Semite’, a ‘dumb celebrity’, and worse (there was one I read that basically said Vedder “should commit suicide like Cobain”).

An ‘anti-Semite’? Eddie Vedder? A ‘dumb celebrity’? Eddie Vedder?

The thing is, even as a life-long Pearl Jam fan, I was actually a little put-off by the speech at the time; not because of what he said, but just because it went on for quite a while and I was waiting for the next song. If anything, I thought it was a bit cheesy. But there’s nothing new about this kind of speech-making where Eddie Vedder is concerned; he’s always been that way, always been passionate and always been one to speak out on social, political and cultural matters.



We live in an age where most of the ‘celebrities’ who do speak out end up sounding stupid; Britney Spears famously caught endorsing George Bush and the invasion of Iraq, for example, or countless so-called celebrities feeling licensed to comment on everything under the sun, including matters they have no real knowledge of, on their Twitter or Facebook accounts. But Eddie Vedder wasn’t posting on Twitter or releasing a news statement or any comparable bullshit; he was on stage in a field surrounded by fans, caught up in the enthusiasm and energy of a 3-hour set, clearly speaking from the heart on something that mattered to him and, most importantly, saying it to an audience of people who he felt connected to and comfortable with; people he trusted would understand the spirit and nature of his statements (and who I’m guessing mostly did).

Vedder is not the one with an agenda; what benefit is it to him or Pearl Jam to have a position on the Israel/Gaza situation or to risk alienating a segment of his fans? None. The agenda is with The Jerusalem Post and with those ‘fans’ or Israeli music journalists who’re so self-conscious about what’s going on in their country that they’ve become primed to attack anyone who even hints at criticism of it.

But what’s worse are the people in forums and comments sections who equate any perceived criticism of the Israeli military with anti-Jewishness or anti-Semitism.

Eddie Vedder doesn’t have a racist bone in his body. And we live in an extraordinary age if even implied criticism of a military operation that has killed over 1200 people can cause such offense.

Vedder, once dubbed along with Kurt Cobain, as the “spokesman for a generation” (man, that was a different time), is the John Lennon of our times, someone who is willing to speak out unhesitatingly, but at the same time is an intelligent voice and not just an over-zealous rock star yelling out slogans for cheap cheers. The fact is that I, and probably a lot of the fans in Milton Keynes that day, wasn’t all that keen on the tangent anyway, nor on the homage to Edwin Starr’s ‘War’ which slightly ruined the middle of Daughter; but wouldn’t most of us rather live in a culture where someone like Eddie feels free to speak openly and passionately and without having to be apologize for it?

The fact is that no one – no one – went home from the Milton Keynes Bowl that day having any particularly strong views about Israel; it was only The Jerusalem Post’s blowing-out-of-proportion of the incident that turned into such an issue and drew so much attention to it.

Eddie, meanwhile, spoke about the matter on the Pearl Jam website, and made it clear he was simply talking about war in general in our society and our world, with all the various conflicts and sub-conflicts currently going on. “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,” Vedder explained in part of the statement. “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. That’s not something I’m going to stop any time soon”

“I’d rather be naïve, heartfelt and hopeful,” Vedder said, “than resigned to say nothing for fear of misinterpretation and retribution.”

And the best thing about that is that Eddie didn’t apologize. Good; he shouldn’t have to. And thank the gods for Eddie Vedder and for Pearl Jam – especially in this substance-starved day and age of pop and celebrity culture.


S. Awan

Independent journalist. Pariah. Believer in human rights, human dignity and liberty. Musician. Substandard Jedi. All-round failure. And future ghost.


  1. P.S. I think I saw the bill you are referring too… its by a Congressman from Florida I think… right? It is based on the U.S. embassy evaluation outline used by them to determine if a foreign country is “Anti-Semitic” or not by what the say and do. It was NEVER intended to be used to enforce ANY “Laws” about Israel. It is being heavily monitored and followed closely by several Legal Groups who say it violates the 1st Amendment FREE SPEECH rights and I agree. It will NOT PASS. How ABSURD! As they say… just find out who you CANNOT criticize in this world and you will find who is controlling it. Gee… I wonder who that might be? Hmmmm…..

  2. I apologize but I really must leave one more post here….I believe it is very relevant: This is the Christian group I am now affiliated with and so thankful for:

    https://cufpa.wordpress.com/author/cufpa/ – CUFPa (Christians United For Palestine):

    “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” – Edmund Burke

    We are Christians from all over the world fighting for a Free Palestine.

    We cross denominational lines and join together as one to face the greatest threat to world peace today: Israel, which is manipulating and wagging the American Empire to set the Middle East on fire to create Greater Israel.

    In the process, the racist Israelis are brutalizing the Palestinian people and dispossessing them of not only their homes and land, but also of their freedom and dignity by treating them like no-class citizens in the ugliest form of Apartheid.

    Our main purpose is to educate and inform those who blindly follow the oppressive state of Israel, which is not the same as the Israel of the bible, and to encourage them to take a stand.

    Join us in the fight against Israeli oppression, racism, and war crimes by sharing this site with others and by becoming active and vocal, while exercising a personal boycott of Apartheid Israel and everything made there.

    “Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.” Isaiah 1:17

  3. BTW: I am the founder and singer songwriter of the Christian hard rock/metal band GUARDIAN known all over the world. Here is MOST (but not all) of my music!

    https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLqi-nJ79YEhsPsewQ1TsnttBrGV26QqMk – Fusion, Gardian, Guardian (The very beginning…this record is a combination of DEMO TAPES: our first demo tape that we sent to a friend of our drummer Rikk Hart (Eric Blair) and Eric was touring with Stryper at the time and kept bugging the President of Enigma/Capitol Records (Wes Hein) to listen to it and he finally did and that’s how we got signed! This link also represents another demo tape with all the songs we recorded about 2 years later for Oz Fox of Stryper (the Producer) who needed all of our songs so he could pick the first 12 songs he wanted to produce for our first record full length record (see below).

    https://youtu.be/ptpuVDK-6fA – “Spiritual Warfare”
    One of two songs we recorded on a compilation album called California Metal with several other Christian rock artists.

    https://youtu.be/dnnfAM-O-38 – “Marching On”
    The other song we recorded for the California Metal.

    https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLPXocwHg0LQrVY9a8zSbBzgVDIJq0oFI3 – First Watch – full album (Guardian’s debut album on Engima/Capitol records 1989…Produced by guitarist/vocalist Oz Fox of Stryper).

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ACLz3TVgylc&feature=youtu.be – First Watch REMASTERED in 2005 so it sounds MUCH BETTER than original recording in 1989.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XT3xi6J4q3w&list=PL3q6aMPgUxk_FqhdGjT8YjbwpvY9urUIT – Renaissance (This is the first full length record by Phantom Generation recorded in 1994 – the band I formed after leaving Guardian in 1990).

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YKJEDaWMPEE&list=PLlrADNBhgV5rhzPVJfiXQeVFFif251_HK – Your Karma Ran Over My Dogma (This is the 2nd full length record by Phantom Generation recorded in 1996)

    **Please note that both of the Phantom Generation albums also have several demo versions of the songs on each album.

    https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL6mURXQ00yA-ucMrQm1FphIpBy7NWQT7W – Guardian1 (this is a 3-song EP I recorded in 2011 with Rikk Hart the original drummer of Guardian who left the band when I did and we came back to do a reunion with the other guys and it didn’t work out and these were the songs I wrote for the project. Rikk and I decided to release it without them once the project fell through and we hired Mike Jones (the guitarist from Phantom Generation) to play lead guitar and engineer and produce it with us in his home studio. **Please note: these are sample songs and do not go all the way to the end of the song. They end just before the actual endings of the songs. See link below to one song that is the whole song.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ai4zN2e97bk&feature=youtu.be – Stand Up and be Counted!! (this is the full song with the ending too).

    • Sorry, pgcawley – I just realised there was a delay in your comment posting properly to the site. This is really cool, I’ll check this stuff out. It’s always good to connect with musicians. I’m not very familiar with Christian Metal. But ‘Your Karma Ran Over my Dogma’ is one of the best song titles i’ve ever heard in my life!

      • Cool thanks! Yeah the Phantom Generation stuff is much more a blend of classic rock and a grunge 90’s sound. You might connect with that music much more than the classic 80’s metal sound of Guardian. I barely even listen to “Christian metal” anymore myself! I mean I still do for a few select artists… some of the new (and old) Stryper … there are a few indie Christian bands that are actually really good but I still don’t listen as much to it as I used too… mostly just King’s X and they really are not a “Christian metal” band! I actually really like the old demo tapes of Guardian (called Fusion and Gardian) when we were a “space rock” band! That’s how we got signed by Wes Hein of Enigma Records. He said in a interview that you can find on Google that he signed Guardian from our first demo tape because he was listening to a lot of “German space metal” and when he heard our demo he said it reminded him of an American version of that type of music and he thought we had a lot of potential! To me the very first link of music I gave you of Guardian is when we were the most creative and authentic we ever were. That older Guardian metal is SUPER POPULAR in South America! We have TONS of fans in Mexico and Brazil and Panama and really ALL of South America! I also have tons of fans from Asia, Europe and Canada! But now I mostly listen to what my 18 year old son is really “IN-TO” – which is all the old blues players like Eric Clapton, Buddy Guy, Muddy Waters, BB King, Stevie Ray Vaughan….he likes Iron Maiden a lot too and AC/DC for the simple straight-forward guitar work… but mostly Cream, Creedence Clearwater Revival and PINK FLOYD (BIG TIME fans of them and Roger Waters)…. those are the bands I am mostly listening to now. Hope you enjoy!!! 🙂

  4. Someone should send ALL CONGRESS the info I just dropped in above…. I wouldn’t know how to get it too them but it is WELL RESEARCHED and IMPOSSIBLE to refute. I wonder what the United States would be like if everyone knew about this information that I have dropped in here? I am TOTALLY Anti-war AND I’m a Christian! I supported JILL STEIN for President and I’m now a PROGRESSIVE who supports Jimmy Dore and ANY AND ALL REAL Progressives like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and several others. I support about 95% of the Green Party Platform. Hopefully more so called Evangelical “Christians” (who know the ones who support modern Israel and endless war against Muslims and all Arab people…. yeah those “Christians”)…. I TRULY HOPE and PRAY that God WAKES THEM UP!! I hope they ALL find out that they have been supporting modern so called Israel and the Military Industrial Corporate Complex for over 70 years now and so has the average American no matter what their religious or political views are for that matter. Let’s hope they ALL wake up soon!! Because NO CHRISTIAN in the first 300 years of Christianity EVER supported WAR and KILLING!! They were ALL against ALL WAR and KILLING. Period.

    Here’s the proof:


    • I’ll be checking out the link(s) promptly. Actually, most of what you just said there is stuff I’ve been writing about here repeatedly for a few years. Good to encounter someone who gets it.

  5. Yeah… so what!? Who here SUPPORTS the unbelievable LAWLESS EVIL ACTS of Israel against the Palestinian people? Who here supports such vicious killing? Have you people all gone mad? What did the Palestinians DO? Lived on this land for AT LEAST the past 800 years you idiots while Ashkenazi (mostly) and a few Sephardim EASTERN EUROPEAN origin “Jews” who have NO CONNECTION WHATSOEVER to ancient Hebrew Israelites or the LAND of ancient Israel have LIED TO THE WORLD and HIJACKED the identity of another race of people (Hebrew Israelites) and claimed it as their own to STEAL the land in Palestine and DESTROY all ACTUAL Semitic people!!

    You are all supporting a SICK “cabal” of internationalists HELL BENT on a ONE WORLD Govt with Jerusalem as its SICK capital!!!

    The saddest part is many of you here actually believe this TOTAL LIE. Wow. How deceived poor Americans and western people are in general. So utterly lied too and deceived by this wicked cabal:













    • Pgcawley, the funny thing is that Vedder didn’t even mention Israel specifically: he was just talking about war in general. But everyone freaked out because they *assumed* he must’ve meant Israel.

      • MUCH thanks to The Burning Blogger Of Bedlam! Yes my friend I noticed that. Israel pulls a hair gun trigger if you are even a little bit “anti-war” you MUST BE “anti-Israel” and “anti-semitic”!! Of course it’s IMPOSSIBLE to be “anti-semitic” when speaking ILL toward Israel or so called “Jewish” people (who I have MANY friends who are “Jewish” btw… in fact I myself am “Ashkenazi Jew” on my mothers side pfft please!) … BECAUSE THEY ARE NOT A SEMITIC PEOPLE. Period. THAT IS A HISTORICAL FACT. Anyway… I apologize for being so straightforward and sounding a bit “crazy” but when you are as INFORMED as I am… you realize how much its true… you know the old saying “Ignorance is bliss” and the truth is that’s where MANY MANY people still are at and still live in the world of LIES composed mostly by these very people.

        War is a RACKET:



        • No worries. The last article I posted here (two days ago) is about the bill that just passed in the US to create a global ‘Anti Semitism Monitor’ answerable to the US President and with full diplomatic immunity.

  6. “…given the timing, that could understandably be construed”
    Lol. Gee do you think? Based on your lame article the answer in no.

  7. “What the fuck is this, some warped, self-important cross between The X-Files and Scooby Doo? Who the fuck is Ben Red? And what self-respecting ‘rock DJ’ is pro-war anyway?” Standing ovation on that point, old man. Seriously, fuck that guy.

  8. Nirvana’s Krist Novoselic wrote this in his blog and I quote “Eddie has gotten some criticism over comments he made about the conflict between the Palestinians and Israelis. That situation has been messed up for so long, it is no wonder that even mentioning it is toxic” So it’s true, Vedder was talking about the ISRAEL-HAMAS conflict (http://kristnovoselic.blogspot.com/2014/07/standing-with-eddie-vedder-and-real.html). There are people who can be so dumb and in denial. Not so for the 40k plus fans who liked DJ Ben Red’s facebook page & who felt slandered by the “erudite”, pseudo intellectual and drunken speech by Eddie Vedder. Vedder should teach magician David Copperfield the trick of making a stadium full of (Israeli-Jewish) fans disappear from the PJ fanbase in just one night. Oh, I forgot, David Copperfield is also Jewish. Maybe Vedder would make him disappear, too. Bravo as*hole Vedder. https://www.facebook.co/Bring.Pearl.Jam.To.Israel?ref=br_tf

    • A follow-up : If you have a net worth of $80M dollars, you can call yourself heartfelt and hopeful but certainly NOT naïve. Geez, what a lame excuse.

  9. Thanks Eve 🙂 And no, I don’t think this incident will stop him speaking his mind.

  10. Well stated. Thank you for putting into articulate words what so many of us think and feel. How unfortunate Ed was being singled out and almost crucified by the media for his anti-war stance. I hope this incident won’t stop him speaking his mind.

  11. These people are acting the same way as stupid fan boys act on twitter. Most doing it to be noticed. The others is because of Religion which I feel should be banned because it is one of the main causes of War. You don’t need churchs, books telling you what to do. You be spiritual in your own self. Anyway I agree with him. Two wrongs don’t make a right. Let alone 3 wrongs. There is no right or wrong side of War. Just the the people running it.

    I really don’t think he is taking sides either. That is just what he happened to say at that moment. in time.

    • Unacceptable.
      Vedder had the chance to clarify his remarks over and over and chose his words carefully. While he could have come out in support of a democracy, he chose to look at the fact that there is fighting as the issue. When we look at the symptoms and not the cause, we can really miss the point here. I think Vedder consistently missed this point and considering his public image, should be taken to task for his ambiguous public comments. . Vedder likes to be Vedder. He is cryptic in his words so he can remain relevant to as many people as possible. He is an excellent showman and yes a wonderful liberal for many causes. This time he behaves like he has his head up his ass, I just don’t need to support someone who so callously makes comments using his celebrity. I love Pearl Jam but I am a Jew and my father was born in Stalingrad in 42 while my father in law fought in the warsaw ghetto at 8 years old. I cannot support someone who reduces the problem to stop fighting when as a Jew when I look at history, that attitude has cost my people a lot. ts OK – he doesn’t need me. My boycott wont affect him. But I also won’t feel the tinge of regret when I hear pearl jam because I will shut it off.

      • I appreciate and respect your opinion and position, Sharpio; and I understand where you’re coming from when you say “look at the symptoms and not the cause”. But the problem for me is that people get labelled as anti-Semitic or racist when they try to criticise the Israeli government or military or, in this instance, a specific military operation with substantial humanitarian consequences. I understand that it is a highly emotive, sensitive subject, but when someone like Vedder criticises the assault on Gaza, he is not saying anything to make light of past Jewish suffering or the events of previous generations – he is specifically talking about what’s going on right now.

        And though it is understandable that a lot of Israeli or Jewish people might be very sensitive, it has to be understood that criticising the Israeli government or military or *even criticising the State of Israel* itself – does NOT equate to a statement of “anti-Jewishness” or anti-Semitism. Israel does not represent all Jews – and the IDF certainly doesn’t represent all Jews.

        As I said, I understand where you’re coming from – and while there are a lot of ‘celebrities’ who comment without an understanding, I don’t think Eddie Vedder is in that category.

    • “Religion which I feel should be
      banned”. Oh do you now? How fascinating. Tell us more oh wise one.

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