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By Andrea Peyser
December 4, 2015
It happened four months and a day before a Paris concert hall was turned into a bloodbath by Islamofascists.
Members of the American alt-rock band Eagles of Death Metal were under heavy pressure to cancel a planned gig in Israel. Pink Floyd founder Roger Waters, the Jew-hater who compares Israel’s treatment of Palestinians to Nazi atrocities, urged the musicians in a letter not to set foot in Tel Aviv. But when the band took the stage there on July 12, frontman Jesse Hughes had a few choice words for the toxic Waters.
“You want to know what I wrote that c–ksucker back?’’ Hughes shouted as the audience broke out into a chorus of anti-Waters boos.
“Two words: F–k you!” And the band played on.
On Nov. 13, it was payback time. As Eagles of Death Metal were about an hour into playing a concert for a sold-out crowd at Paris’ Bataclan, the venue was hit with the heaviest casualties in a night of carnage that claimed 130 lives. Killed at the theater were 89 people, and hundreds more were wounded. The band’s merchandise manager was murdered, as were three employees of its record label. Band members escaped —traumatized, but physically uninjured.
As Hughes said in a harrowing video interview posted online by Vice, scores of people tried to hide in the band’s dressing room but were mowed down by three monsters bearing assault rifles who, witnesses said, shouted, “This is for Syria!’’ and “Allahu Akbar!’’ — Arabic for “God is great!’’ One young man survived by concealing himself beneath Hughes’ leather jacket, he said. Many gave their lives by heroically putting their bodies between their friends and the gunmen.
Were these musicians, their colleagues, friends and fans, targeted for slaughter because band members refused to boycott Israel?
I believe the answer is yes. And this transforms Eagles of Death Metal into warriors against global anti-Semitism. Long may they play.
I believe that Internet-savvy terrorists were aware of the California-based band’s devotion to Israel. Claiming responsibility for the attacks, the Islamic State put out an online statement — in Arabic, English and French — calling Bataclan a place “where hundreds of apostates had gathered in a profligate prostitution party.”
The name Bataclan has circulated on pro-Palestinian online networks for years, The New York Times reported. From the early 2000s to 2009, the Jewish family that sold its majority stake in the concert hall in September held an annual benefit for Israeli border police that was targeted for protests by activists supporting Palestinians.
Authorities have not pinpointed anti-Semitism — or any other form of hatred —as a motive for the attacks. But out of hundreds of concert halls in Paris, and countless musical acts the villains could have preyed upon, they picked this band and this venue. I don’t think it was an accident.
I add Eagles of Death Metal to a list I put out last year of celebrities and notables who risk worldwide condemnation, and now physical retaliation, by showing support for the Jewish state.
I also add former “Tonight Show” host Jay Leno, who has traveled to Jerusalem twice in two years to emcee an awards event, and former Mayor Mike Bloomberg. He flew to Tel Aviv in July 2014, as Palestinian rockets rained on the land, to pledge solidarity with the Jewish state and show that its airports were open and safe.
Lady Gaga was the first superstar to headline a concert in Israel after the recent spate of Palestinian attacks began, appearing in September 2014 with Tony Bennett. Afterward, she told Britain’s Independent, “Tel Aviv was magnificent. The worldview of Israel is just not reality. It’s in a beautiful place, the people are in good spirits.”
I’m sorry if I’ve left anyone out. But the list of awesome dudes and dudettes already included radio shock jock Howard Stern and the late Joan Rivers, music producer Simon Cowell and stunning actress, model and singer Scarlett Johansson. Pressured by the odious Waters to cancel their first-ever concert in Tel Aviv last year, the Rolling Stones not only played, but delayed the start of their show by 45 minutes to allow time for devout Jews, who don’t drive on holidays, to arrive for the gig after the Jewish feast of Shavuot had ended at sunset.
Hughes told Vice that he’s eager to again take the stage at the now-shuttered Bataclan.
“I cannot wait to get back to Paris,” he said.
“I cannot wait to play. I want to come back. I want to be the first band to play in the Bataclan when it opens back up.’’
This kind of bravery is inspiring.