Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Elvis Costello Cancels Concerts in Israel

Elvis Costello Cancels Concerts in Israel in Protest at

Treatment of Palestinians


    Singer says he acted on 'conscience', as he joins a list

    of performers who have boycotted Israel for political



May 17, 2010, Guardian (UK)





Elvis Costello has cancelled two concerts he was scheduled to

play in Israel in protest at its treatment of Palestinians.


Costello, one of the most gifted British songwriters of his

generation, was due to play on 30 June and 1 July but says

his "conscience" dictated that he pull out of the performances.


He joins a list of performers who have decided not to play in

Israel, including Gil Scott-Heron and Santana.


On his website, Costello wrote: "Then there are occasions

when merely having your name added to a concert schedule may

be interpreted as a political act that resonates more than

anything that might be sung and it may be assumed that one

has no mind for the suffering of the innocent.


"I must believe that the audience for the coming concerts

would have contained many people who question the policies of

their government on settlement and deplore conditions that

visit intimidation, humiliation or much worse on Palestinian

civilians in the name of national security.


"I am also keenly aware of the sensitivity of these themes in

the wake of so many despicable acts of violence perpetrated

in the name of liberation.


"It is a matter of instinct and conscience.


"I cannot imagine receiving another invitation to perform in

Israel, which is a matter of regret, but I can imagine a

better time when I would not be writing this.


"With the hope for peace and understanding. Elvis Costello."


Sarah Colborne, from the Palestine Solidarity Campaign,

welcomed the decision: "We are increasingly seeing artists

taking a stand against allowing themselves to be used by the

Israeli state to normalise their occupation and apartheid

policies against Palestinians. Principled artists understood

it was unacceptable to play under the apartheid South African

regime in Sun City."


Other artists have cancelled Israeli tours in recent months,

including Santana and Gil Scott-Heron, who was also active in

the anti-apartheid movement. In one song written to protest

against the racist regime in South Africa, Scott-Heron wrote:

"The first time I heard there was trouble in the Middle East,

I thought they were talking about Pittsburgh." Leonard Cohen

played in Israel last year, despite a similar campaign from

the boycott movement asking him to stay away.


"This is not boycotting the Jewish people, or the Israeli

people, it is boycotting the occupation," said Mustafa

Barghouti, an independent Palestinian MP. "More and more

people are convinced that something should be done and the

peaceful and non-violent way to do it is by boycott,

divestment and sanctions."


It comes as Palestinian officials have begun a new effort to

boycott products made in Israeli settlements. Last month

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas signed a law banning

Palestinians from working in settlements in the occupied

territories and banning the sale of settlement goods,

including fruit and vegetables. Hundreds of volunteers in the

West Bank today distributed lists of 500 Israeli settlement

products they want shoppers to boycott.


Israel's culture and sports minister, Limor Livnat,

criticised Costello. "An artist boycotting his fans in Israel

is unworthy of performing here," Livnat was quoted as saying

by the Ynet news website.Israel itself has banned people from

entering its territory because of their views about its

actions. Israeli authorities prevented the Jewish American

academic Noam Chomsky from entering the West Bank on Sunday

to give a lecture at a Palestinian university near Ramallah.

Chomsky was told that the Israeli authorities did not like

his political views.




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