Thank you, Pete . . . a Libertine in every sense

Bouncing home in the early hours of Friday from a second wonderful night of Pete Doherty at Barby Tel Aviv, I am ‘greeted’ by depressingly familiar facebook discussions about Roger Waters and BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) . . . aka the ‘respectable’, twenty-first century boycott of Jews.

I got into indie rock/post-punk revival band The Libertines thanks to a religious-gig-going mate. And something about its maverick co-frontman Doherty, whether his talented songwriting (my favourite example, from his subsequent group, Babyshambles) or even some of his offstage excesses, immediately struck a chord with this ‘nice’ Jewish boy from Hendon (I guess because of Jonny, I have always been drawn to the outsider/misfit/rebel). And soon thereafter, my then boss, duty soliciting, picked up Doherty as a client following one of his not infrequent drug-related indiscretions. So you can imagine my excitement when I spotted, on facebook, that Pete was actually coming to Tel Aviv . . .

Pete Doherty, Barby TA, 30.4.14

Springing out of the Central Bus Station last Wednesday evening, I at once purchased a few tins of Sudanese-strength lager for the walk through south Tel Aviv’s Shapira neighbourhood. They soon did the trick, also helping to make ma’ariv and kaddish in the local Beit Tefila somewhat less routine than usual.

Pete’s opening “Shalom” immediately warmed the heart. Sometimes it is hard living here. Not the day-to-day. Just the constant feeling that we are on our own and the regular reminders that “they” don’t like us, siding instead, quite incomprehensibly to us, with the brutally oppressive, misogynistic, homophobic, Islamofascist terror ‘state’ nextdoor.

"I like Tel Aviv!"

“I like Tel Aviv!”

So when artists like Doherty refuse to go along with the campaign of hate, speak their first few words of Ivrit (even if, like Pete, confusing their “tov me’od” and “toda”), swig from a bottle of Goldstar, draw on their first Israeli joint, and even relate their experiences from the Carmel Market that morning – see the clip (of Thursday night’s opening) at the bottom – it just means so indescribably much. Well it does, at least, to me.

Pete sussed the locals immediately. “You have to negotiate everything here,” he exclaimed, on emerging for his encore. “I just asked this bloke back there for two minutes [rest]. “No,” he goes, “you can have one”!” Tel Aviviot, too. “You’re a little optimistic,” he told one of them, on unfurling and reading out her rather forward proposal for after the show.

I have always liked to believe that I possess a good instinct about people. Even famous people. When I first saw Morrissey swing those gladioli on Top of the Pops, I knew that here was a man . . . and, sure enough, some 25 years later, he also ignored the anti-Semites to come and play Tel Aviv (see And we’re still fond of you, Moz!)

BDS represents nothing less than ‘respectable’, post-Holocaust, anti-Semitism. The obsessives who today demonise the Jewish state by calling for its economic isolation are the same types who, in centuries past, demonised Jews with caricatures, boycotts, and far, far worse; or who, in return for longed-for Gentile recognition and acceptance, were prepared to sell out their fellow Jew.

BDS’s Israel-only bashing and self-hating-Jewish proponents are not folk you’d particularly want to share a beer with . . .

Emma Thompson

“Why does he call me that?”

Let us begin, for horrible English toff example, with old horseface Emma Thompson (who, at an international theatre festival to feature productions from, inter alia, Iran, Turkey and China, saw fit only to call for the boycott of the Jewish one!) Her daughter attended the same Hampstead school as children of friends. And, while other celebrity parents – including Sean Bean, Damian Lewis and Bill Nighy – gave of themselves in a fundraising campaign for a sick pupil, Thompson just gave excuses (via her publicist, of course). She was, on the other hand, excellent at making lots of luvvie/“look at me” noise outside the school gates. A horrid woman, by all accounts.

And talk to anyone unfortunate enough to have known Gerald Kaufman growing up in Leeds. They will tell you what a singularly repellent individual he was, even then (see “Dame” Gerald: Our very own “Uncle Tom” and Kaufman: Enough to make your Rabbi anti-Semitic). And one hears similar things about most others in the List of Shame, headed by the (thankfully) late Harold Pinter, the abhorrent Miriam Margolyes (see here . . . though not on a full stomach) and, sadly, two artists whom I once very much admired, Mike Leigh and Alexei Sayle.

Roger Waters in uniform

“Suits me, ja?!”

I have little doubt that Waters is another fabrenter (as my parents used to refer to such people). He has had more than enough time to explain why he picks on Israel, and suspends Star of David-emblazoned inflatable pigs over his audiences. To my mind, there is only one explanation. (And I feel vindicated in my lifelong disdain for the clinical dirges of Pink Floyd – if Hitler had come to power forty years later, guards at Dachau would have alternated Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg with The Dark Side of the Moon.)

Thompson and Waters clearly couldn’t give a Fliegenschwein about human suffering. If they did, they would be working tirelessly on Syria, Saudi Arabia, Darfur, Eritrea, North Korea, China, etc, instead of tirelessly obsessing with the only democracy in the Middle East (and one that has been embroiled in an existential, 66-year war on terror). Their issue is with Jews.

The boycotters did try to get to Pete. “They told me it was dangerous here,” he quipped, after stumbling, one (joint-injected) Goldstar too many, into the audience. And while his suggestion for resolving the Middle East conflict – “You might as well just have a drink and listen to some music” – may be a tad facile, it comes from a love of all people, not the hatred of one.

Clean-liver he may not be, but Pete Doherty is clearly just an everyday good bloke. And he is the very antithesis of the arrogant, hypocritical, self-righteous, morally dishonest Thompsons and Waters of this world, who hide beneath veneers of decency, while rabidly pursuing racist agendas of the most pernicious kind. What an upside-down planet we live on, where public persona and choice of lifestyle, rather than fundamental goodness, accord that pair of cunts – apologies, but sometimes it’s the only word that’ll do – more standing than him.

The Oxford Dictionary defines a “libertine” as “a person who freely indulges in sensual pleasures” – as a Queens Park Rangers fan (Doherty once penned a club fanzine) puts it so tastefully here, “any chap whos rearended [melchett mike: allegedly] Moss gets my applause!” – but also as “a freethinker”.

Throughout his litany of troubles, there is one Yiddish word that has almost certainly never been used in association with Pete Doherty . . . but for us, Pete, you will always be a mensch.

[For more photos/videos of last week’s gigs, search YouTube and see here.]

26 responses to “Thank you, Pete . . . a Libertine in every sense

  1. Jonathan K

    Mike this is one of your best and most incisive blogs for ages. Totally agree with you about this BDS stuff. At the end of the day I can’t see it going anywhere. A vote to demolish Israel is to promote maximum anarchy in the Middle East. In the meantime there should be some payback for the Pals BDS promotion. Perhaps withholding the Pals tax revenue (so as to start to pay off their electricity bill). Real payback (not sanctions) rather than the hasbara approach criticised so readily by Roger Waters is needed. I sincerely hope the visit by Pete Doherty and the Rolling Stones will show others the hypocrisy of the BDS approach.

  2. Bullfrog Brown

    Those fond of the evil, hating & hypocritical Arab world support the BDS movement, which in turn, creates further divide in a world racked by that age old disease, ‘anti semitism’.

    Good on Doherty, Alicia Keys & Ozzy Osbourne for their recent visits to Israel.

    ‘Unity through music & culture’ would help build a better world.

  3. Right On!

  4. Tony Jacobs

    Spot on.

  5. Adam Green

    Great post Mike although I don’t agree with you about Thompson or Waters regarding her looks and his music, both of which I loved as a younger man – which makes their current opinions and actions all more hurtful and disappointing for me. After all, when a creature like Russel Brand has a go at Israel it’s merely the expected grunt from a pig – a mild irritant at worst, but when people we would otherwise admire and respect for their talent and articulation reveal themselves as our enemies it’s particularly depressing.

    And talking of the lovely Gerald Kaufman, my dear, brave late mother confronted him about his views on Israel a few years ago on the upper deck of the 113 bus, somewhere near Lords Cricket Ground. And I don’t suppose you or your readers will be surprised to learn that the response of this “respected parliamentary veteran” and “canny debater” to her questioning was to keep completely schtum before making a hasty exit from the bus at the next stop – appropriately enough – Regents Park Mosque…

  6. Excllent need to get this printed in the UK Press.

  7. Steve Davis

    Great blogpost Mike, the BS of the BDS is insipid and troubling. There was an interesting opEd in the Telegraph a couple of days ago:

  8. Tamar Meijers

    Excellent. Spot on!!

  9. mark wagner

    great piece Mike

  10. Thanks, all, and to Steve for the link to that excellent Telegraph piece . . . but Thompson’s “looks”, Adam?! I trust your assessment of King Saul displays better judgement. 😉

  11. Philip Witriol

    Beautiful post, Mike – and will look out for (presumably, South) Sudanese lager in Finsburka Park.

  12. Adam Green

    …hardly a “horse face” Mike (in her younger days – I repeat) and as for Saul – I didn’t go into his looks so much although he was reported to be a bit of a looker…

  13. What a beautiful piece Mike, and thanks for the video of the concert. If I’m Pete and I read this I’d be moved to tears. I’m not him and I almost was.

    Thank you for taking the time to write things like this. I wish you would write more often. You are a light within the light that Israel is supposed to be.

  14. John Fisher

    Sorry to be a party pooper (especially after that last inspiring Churchillian comment) but has it ever occurred to you all that maybe this Doherty bloke just needed the money.

  15. Hey Mike, being on topic, since no new blog updates…and seeing you’re a big music fan, i’d like to share this vid of a Queen song covered by an Israeli family…it’s the best thing I’ve seen in a while…would love to hear your comments about it.. Sorry I was too impressed with them and thought you’d like this vid..perhaps you know them already?

    All the best to you, Sir.

  16. While thanking John Fisher for the attempted, no doubt well-intentioned, reality check, I must respectfully poop his party by urging him to stick to matters fiscal. While Pete’s fondness for pricey “substances” is well-documented, it would have been far simpler for him to continue funding the habit through the European venues that he regularly sells out, as opposed to the one on Kibbutz Galuyot, Occupied Palestine.

    As for you, One4Zion, you should appreciate that no “big music fan” would waste his time on Queen (never mind an Israeli family’s cover) . . . alright, alright, but include the link this time! 😉

  17. Hi there again Mike… i did post it but somehow did not appear… **shocked** that you’re no fan of Queen… btw, i’ve posted here before under my email and name (Yossi, big fan from Canada)…but this new wordpress layout doesn’t let me post under my yahoo email… :S
    here’s the link…

  18. No it isn’t! Just cut and paste URL. Even a Queen fan should be able to do that…

  19. LOL!!! but i did it… your wordpress won’t let it stay…search on youtube for:
    “somebody to love”… by “Kol Hamishpacha”…you’ll be blown away!…even if you’re not a fan… *grinding teeth*

  20. Mike – after I witnessed you lovingly “kissing the Kilkenny” the other day I had my doubts about your appreciation of the better things in life, but your comments about Queen have restored my faith. Without a doubt, the most overrated rock band of all time with the most overrated front man.

    And as for Pete coming here for the dosh John! Really? So what about the Stones – do you think they’re also hard up?

  21. Re “kissing the Kilkenny”, I think I will clarify – for the benefit of mm’s resident homophobe, Shuli, at least – that Kilkenny is an Irish cream ale . . . not a Tel Aviv queer male.

    As for you, One4, I will put you out of your misery . . .

  22. And just to prove it Shuli here’s a link to a photo of some “Kiss the Kilkenny” beer mats from back in the day…

  23. Not “blown away”, One4 . . . though the clip did make me think of blowing my brains out. They’re like The Addams Family on speed! If that’s “the best thing [you]’ve seen in a while”, you really will have to get out more.

    Your thoughts, mm’s resident rocker, Terry M?

  24. My two penny’s worth;
    Blown away I’m not but then Queen have never really been my bag.
    Kol HaKavod all the same though:)
    Try this instead

  25. And what’s wrong with this – I was in the 5th row by the way…

  26. Thanks Mike, for your input and putting me out of my…I’m not a big fan of Queen, or the family that made the video, but I thought it was an amazing cover of that song and the video was really fun to watch.
    Terry has the right idea. At the very least a Kol Hakavod is in order. Thanks Terry and Adam for the links…pretty cool videos.

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