In 2006 Palestinian groups had called for an academic & cultural boycott of Israel. On July 29th 2008, Morrissey played his first gig there.
In July 2012, he told Israel’s channel 2 news that:
“There’s no point in punishing an entire nation for something its leader says or does.”
In his November 2017 interview with Der Spiegel he dismissed the idea of a cultural boycott, seemingly not previously aware of the BDS movement.
“It is narrow-minded. Being politically correct is incorrect. It means forbidding the freedom of speech. This is how the BDS movement sounds to me.”
“I love this city [Tel Aviv]. The rest of the world does not like Israel well. But the people there are very generous and friendly. You should never judge a people by their government. It is very rare for the government to reflect the wishes of the people.'”
His 2017 album, Low In High School, had 3 songs set in Israel.
The Girl From Tel Aviv Who Wouldn’t Kneel, which included a side-swipe at American intervention:
Of princes and kings and their costly parade
Blitz them all back to the Stone Age
The American way displayed proudly
Is to show lots of teeth and talk loudly
And the land weeps oil
The land weeps oil
What do you think all these armies are for?
Just because the land weeps oil
When You Open Your Legs, in which the song’s narrator forgets everything because of sex:
4am and once again
I am asked to leave this club in Tel Aviv
It’s 4am and once again
I am asked to leave this club in Tel Aviv, oh Everything I know deserts me now
When you open your legs
Everything I know deserts me now
When you open…
& Israel, which mixes sex with religion, envy and threat.
Realize if you’re happy
Jesus sends you straight to hell
And should you dare, enjoy your body
Here tolls Hades welcome bell
You’ve found a middle course existance
We’re all bones and flesh and shell
I can’t answer for what armies do
They are not you They are not you
They are not you
In other climes they bitch and whine
Just because you’re not like them
The sky is dark
For many others
They want it dark
For you as well
Earth is just one big asylum
An explodes a prison cell
See us squirm in our own damaged spell
You were born
As guilty sinners
Before you stood up right, you fell
Put the fear of many gods
Nature gave you
Who are virgin priests to tell
Who, how to love
How to live
And they who reign, abuse, upon you
They are jealous of you as well
As you should
There’s nothing to suggest that it has anything to do with the conflict between Israel & Palestine.
Tel Aviv sells itself as one of the most gay friendly cities in the world.
Tel Aviv is known internationally as one of the most gay-friendly cities in the world, welcoming gay tourists with open arms, and also offering a safe refuge for those from the LGBTQ community of surrounding countries in the region. (Tourist Israel, 2021) https://www.touristisrael.com/why-tel-aviv-is-the-ultimate-lgbtq-travel-destination/26062/
And as the Vegan capital of the world.
The “vegan capital of the world” is what proud locals dub Tel Aviv. With 400 vegan and vegan-friendly kitchens catering to most of Israel’s 200,000 vegans, going meat-free isn’t just easy, here; it’s a chance to sample the best food in town. (Jasmine Phull, the Independent, 6 November 2017) https://www.independent.co.uk/travel/middle-east/vegan-food-tel-aviv-best-restaurants-israel-vegetarian-friendly-port-capital-meshek-barzilay-orna-ella-bana-a8036081.html
If Morrissey was racist towards Muslims he’d hardly have Istanbul as one of his favourite cities.
I had a timid childhood. My past is also full of repression. I still do not know what it means to have fun and to enjoy physically. Istanbul has a feature that dissipates this mood and crisis. When you return to the British land, you are left with the same despair, it’s separate. This is the secret of Istanbul, the people of Istanbul: It is very alive, very real. This is also something I admire. I don’t see myself as a ‘living person’ as much as you do. I’m an extra head in the crowd, that’s all. (Morrissey, Hurriyet, 24 November 2014) https://www.hurriyet.com.tr/kelebek/hayat/morrissey-cinsel-hayatim-koca-bir-cahillikten-ibaret-27621773
And he felt his boycott of Canada was a failure.
My decision to return to Canada after almost 15 years of protest against its savage and Neanderthal annual Baby Seal Kill is entirely because my stance was ultimately of no use and helped no one. My voice was drowned out by the merciless swing of spiked axes crushing the heads of babies. (Morrissey, Morrissey Central, 20 September 2018)
Desite that, as usual, it was interpreted as genocidal, reactionary racism by the press.
…to argue that Israel is beset with ‘dark’ hostile forces seems to conflate the very existence of Arab and Muslim populations with the most extreme forms of Islamist ideology. The legitimate grounds for Palestinians to feel oppressed or denied justice by the Israeli state are conjured away, or represented as inherently life-denying forces… For Morrissey, the legitimate demands of Arab and Muslim opinion in the region are denied, and millions of people only represented as dark impersonal forces, motivated by hate and jealousy. It’s a deeply racist and reactionary line of thought. (Michael Calderbank, 2 December 2017) https://www.redpepper.org.uk/where-did-it-all-go-wrong-morrissey/
Two songs about sex & one about defying authority had to be about Zionism.
The Quietus review, bylined “Mr Agreeable”, said: “That’s opposition to Likud, Netanyahu kissing Trump’s arse, the f**king settlements programme, the f**king bulldozing of protesters, all sussed for what it really is — plain old green-eyed jealousy.” Guardian music critic Alexis Petridis also poured scorn on the notion. “Don’t worry, everyone, he’s got it all worked out: anyone who criticises Israel’s actions — say, the bulldozing of Palestinian homes in the occupied territories — is ‘jealous’.” Meanwhile Guardian TV critic Stuart Heritage asserted: “It has got to the point that just reading the track list of his new album — including song titles such as The Girl From Tel Aviv Who Wouldn’t Kneel and Israel — is enough to send your sphincter zooming up through your intestines and into your windpipe.” (Lee Harpin, Jewish Chronicle, 27 November 2017) https://www.thejc.com/news/uk/critics-attack-israel-in-morrissey-album-reviews-1.449077
And he got denounced by social media.
On a Side Note: Morrissey has a fairly well documented admiration for Israeli actor Lior Ashkenazi & that it’s possible the songs were inspired by his films. https://morrissey-shot.livejournal.com/1140439.html