Although pro-Palestinian groups are slamming him for agreeing to play in Israel with U2 this summer, Irish rock star Bono, 49, still keeps seeking out the connections between cultures, rather than the issues that tear them apart. This week the singer took the opportunity to indirectly respond to the critics who have attacked him in recent days.
At the weekend Bono made an appearance at the Park East Synagogue in New York, courtesy of a special invite by its founder, Rabbi Schneier, who, like Bono, has worked hard in the arena of human rights around the world.
The pair developed a friendship through the work of the Appeal of Conscience Foundation, which was originally founded by Schneier in 1965. The foundation is an interfaith partnership of leaders from various worlds that is broadly similar to Bono's ONE organization, which has a wide variety of mandates related to international development and relief issues, including slowing the spread of HIV/AIDS and malaria.
Bono was last seen with Rabbi Schneier when he attended the Appeal of Conscience Foundation’s Annual Gala Dinner in New York City last September. “You know Bono as a great rock star,” remarked Rabbi Schneier in his introduction, “but he has made it his mission to fight poverty, hunger, injustice... wherever there is a cause requiring a humanitarian response, Bono is there.”
Bono himself, wearing a cippa, seemed overwhelmed by the jubilant welcome and remarked that “you’ve probably figured out who the real rock star is in this room” as he looked at Schneier and smiled. “I’m so honored to be here,” he continued, “my work as an activist is based on the idea that everybody is equal. And this idea of equality… you guys kind of invented it.”
Bono talked about the Jewish people’s flight from Egyptian Pharaohs, and their relationship to their faith. “My thing is,” he said in closing, “is that where you live should not decide whether you live or whether you die.” Students, parents, and teachers applauded as he launched into to a short accapella version of I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For, the U2 hit from 1987’s The Joshua Tree, with the audience joining him on the chorus