Eddie Vedder responded to criticism for his speech last week during a British gig which many inferred was aimed at Israel by stating the following yesterday: "War hurts. It hurts no matter which side the bombs are falling on."
In a letter posted on the band's site entitled "Imagine That -- I'm Still Anti-War," Vedder started with a line from John Lennon's "Imagine": "You may say I'm a dreamer, ... but I'm not the only one."
"And some of us, after another morning dose of news coverage full of death and destruction, feel the need to reach out to others to see if we are not alone in our outrage," Vedder wrote. "With about a dozen assorted ongoing conflicts in the news everyday, and with the stories becoming more horrific, the level of sadness becomes unbearable. And what becomes of our planet when that sadness becomes apathy? Because we feel helpless. And we turn our heads and turn the page."
The singer then said despite the daily news he is "full of hope" after witnessing the crowds the band played to during their recent European tour. "To see flags of so many different nations, and to have these huge crowds gathered peacefully and joyfully is the exact inspiration behind the words I felt the need to emphatically relay," he wrote.
"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 anytime soon. Call me naive. I'd rather be naive, heartfelt and hopeful than resigned to say nothing for fear of misinterpretation and retribution."
The letter also had Vedder essentially echoing parts of the speech he made at the Milton Keynes National Bowl last Friday (July 11) regarding what most humans want in life ("love, health, family, food and shelter than any kind of war") and how advanced communication and technology should make war a far less acceptable solution. "We are such a remarkable species," he wrote. "Capable of creating beauty. Capable of awe-inspiring advancements. We must be capable of resolving conflicts without bloodshed."
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And while he didn't name any country in his speech Friday evening, the one country Vedder specifically mentioned in yesterday's letter was the United States.
"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 U.S. drone strike," Vedder wrote. "But I know that we can't let the sadness turn into apathy. And I do know we are better off when we reach out to each other."
The letter concluded with another "Imagine" lyric -- "I hope someday you'll join us,..." -- with Vedder adding, "Won't you listen to what the man said."
Vedder's letter has already sparked comments, including those from Israeli disc jockey Ben Red of 88FM who took Vedder to task for his original speech during the Friday gig.
"Eddie Vedder, So too bad the pretty words that you wrote here now, were not said exactly like you wrote them here in the concert at Milton Keynes National Bowl," Red posted earlier today. "Indeed, War is terribly and unnecessary and I am convinced that the majority of inhabitants of the world also in Israel and Gaza, want to live at peace without bloodshed."
However, Red also seemed to change his stance from Saturday when he said Vedder was "not invited to come here" after the original speech. "This surely is not a reason to boycott your admirers in Israel and not to arrive here to a concert," Red wrote. "I don't think there is another country in the world who run a campaign so enthusiastic, creative, clean, and arouses inspiration in order to bring one of our beloved bands here to Israel. Who do you really punish?"
Later Red commented while he believes Vedder isn't anti-Semitic he thought Vedder's comments left "not much a place to doubt that he took one side..."
Pearl Jam is off the road until October when they launch a three-week American tour that begins in Cincinnati on Oct. 1 and concludes in Denver on Oct. 22. The trek includes appearances at the Austin City Limits Music Festival.
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