On July 29th 2009, Morrissey played his first gig in Israel.

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.'”


He’s very politely saying that the people are nice and the government isn’t. And in no way is he slamming, blasting or proclaiming.

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 existence
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
In Israel

Nature gave you
Every impulse
Who are virgin priests to tell
Who, how to love
How to live
And they who reign, abuse, upon you
Upon you
They are jealous of you as well
Love yourself
As you should

There is absolutely nothing to suggest that it has anything to do with the conflict between Israel & Palestine – it seems far more likely that it’s about sexual freedom. Tel Aviv is the kind of liberal, gay friendly, city that traditional moralists would consider a Sodom and Gomorrah.

But the UK left was outraged.

Red Pepper was appalled & saw it as part of his descent into right-wing reactionary racism:

Despite Morrissey mentioning Virgin Priests, many Gods & other climes, Pepper decided the threat had to be Islam:

And decided that this song about sex & religion had to be about Zionism & was telling the Palestinians they had no right to be aggrieved:


Other reviews took the same line – that 2 songs about sex & 1 about defying authority had to be about Zionism.

A summary appeared in The Jewish Chronicle:

It didn’t seem to occur to them that Moz has a fairly well documented admiration for Israeli actor Lior Ashkenazi & that it’s possible the songs were inspired by his films. They could at least ask.


Their meeting:

Scene from a Lior film Moz wanted to recreate:

Also ironic (& depressing) that the UK left’s obsession with Israel, so acute that it sees Morrissey as a zealous Zionist, would mire it in racism.

They also didn’t fret about the ethics of being angry at an LGBT+ singer for not boycotting a country that doesn’t persecute him, when they’ve never demanded that he boycott a country that does.


Nor have they ever condemned him for playing gigs in his favourite city of Istanbul, currently ruled over by Islamist hardliner Erdogan:

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.