System Of A Down’s Serj Tankian shares his thoughts on boycotts and the Israeli-Palestinian war

Serj Tankian from System Of A Down commented on the current situation in Palestine and the movement to boycott companies linked to Israel.

Hamas attacked Israel on October 7 in response to its occupation of the Palestinian territories, killing 1,189 people. 37,702 Palestinians died in Israel’s interim operations (via Al Jazeera).

Recently, record labels, promoters and others have called for a cultural boycott of Israel through the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI), an offshoot of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Movement that has been behind the huge wave of people who this year they withdrew from participation in The Great Escape, Latitude Festival and Download Festival.

In an interview with NME about his new autobiography Down with the system Tankian presented his views on current world events and ongoing boycotts. While he pointed to the way in which activism is “taken hostage” by “certain fringe elements of society,” he believes most activists have good intentions. He then suggests that Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu is a war criminal.

“It’s important for young people to raise their voices because we don’t live in a fair world,” Tankian said. “I think that in some cases pure activism becomes hostage to certain marginal elements of society, including in the US – certain anti-Semites who have made their way into this world. However, I think that most activists and their intentions are pure and I think that what they do is important.

He continued: “Regarding the Hamas invasion of Israel, I want to say that it was obviously a terrorist act and they are war criminals and deserve punishment. But the Netanyahu government’s response is also – as the number of civilian casualties shows – a war crime.

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – FEBRUARY 04: Serj Tankian of System of a Down performs at Banc of California Stadium on February 4, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Tankian also touched on the less discussed story of Azerbaijan’s invasion of Nagorno-Karabakh last September, often raising awareness of the conflict and the 1915 Armenian Genocide, which remains unrecognized by many governments, including Britain’s.

“Azerbaijan attacked 120,000 inhabitants of the area who had lived there since time immemorial,” he said. “Incredible injustice, humanitarian catastrophe, genocide, war crimes are happening today – so yes, there will be a backlash.”

In other news, Tankian revealed in the book that System Of A Down began looking for a new vocalist in 2018 after he proposed leaving the band.

Tankian details in his memoir: “At the end of 2017, there was a team meeting in Beno’s (team manager) office. When I arrived, I told everyone I had an item I wanted to add to the agenda. We made it through the chaos of regular business conversations and it was time for my subject.

“So who’s going to throw me a going away party?” I asked the group. – Do any of you want to be master of ceremonies? I laughed a little, but I was serious. “Look, I’ve made it clear that I’m no longer interested in touring, both because of my back and because it’s no longer in my vision.”