[Boycott - Cultural]
Elvis Costello cancels concerts in Israel in protest at treatment of Palestinians
Vikram Dodd, and Rory McCarthy, The Guardian
18 May 2010
Singer says he acted on 'conscience', as he joins a list of performers who have boycotted Israel for political reason
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."
One lives in hope that music is more than mere noise, filling up idle time.. 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.. it is also quite impossible to simply look the other way.. Sometimes a silence in music is better than adding to the static and so an end to it.
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.
Elvis Costello - Statement on boycotting Israel
15 May 2010
A victory for ethical responsibility of international artists:
PACBI’s Reaction to Elvis Costello’s Cancellation of Two Gigs in Israel
The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI)
18 May 2010
Occupied Ramallah, 18 May 2010 – The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) warmly welcomes Elvis Costello’s cancellation of his scheduled performances in Israel. Costello’s decision is a great victory for the ethical responsibilities of international cultural figures, a key factor in the cultural boycott of Israel. It comes after similar cancellations by Gil Scott-Heron, Carlos Santana and Bono/U2 upon appeals by the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) and its international partners, particularly in the UK and U.S.
Referring to Israeli imposed “conditions that visit intimidation, humiliation or much worse on Palestinian civilians in the name of national security,” Costello’s decision not to be complicit in whitewashing these Israeli policies is exceptionally brave and principled. It is deeply appreciated by the Palestinian people and people of conscience everywhere.
US- and UK-based solidarity groups upholding Palestinian rights had urged Costello to cancel his Israel performances in order not to contribute to legitimizing Israel’s occupation and apartheid against the Palestinians.
It is worth noting that, in the last few years, many internationally renowned cultural figures have come out in support of the cultural boycott of Israel. Such a boycott against complicit Israeli institutions is seen as an effective and necessary measure to end its impunity and promote its accountability under international law. A similar cultural boycott against apartheid South Africa is widely credited for isolating it and significantly contributing to the eventual collapse of the racist system there.
Scottish PSC Campaign
Campaign flyer from Scottish PSC
PSC Letter to Elvis Costello
27 April 2010
27 April 2010
Dear Elvis Costello,
We were shocked to see from your website that you are planning on performing in Israel this June. The Palestinian people have lived under military occupation for decades. The siege by the Israeli army and the economic blockade have devastated their daily lives so that ‘normal' life is impossible.
You will remember how artists who played at Sun City during South Africa's apartheid era were used by the apartheid regime to justify its policies. But the principled refusal from many artists to perform whilst apartheid existed in South Africa helped bring an end to that injustice. Now, decades later, a similar system of apartheid exists in Palestine.
Israel operates an entrenched system of racial Apartheid against its own non-Jewish inhabitants and has been illegally occupying Palestinian land in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights since 1967. It has sought to further annex these lands and has systematically transferred its own civilian population into these occupied territories in contravention of international law. Israel continues to build the illegal Apartheid wall, annexing vast swathes of Palestinian land in the West Bank and creating Palestinian ghettos, despite the ruling of the International Court of Justice that it is illegal.
Israel is subjecting 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza to a brutal and inhumane blockade - preventing those needing essential medical help from leaving, and blocking food, medicines and construction materials to rebuild Gaza's shattered infrastructure following Israel's war on Gaza last year. And recently, Israel introduced a new military order, which enables Israel to carry out mass deportations of Palestinians from their homes in the West Bank, categorising them as ‘infiltrators'.
Desmond Tutu, following his visit to the West Bank, said he was ‘very deeply distressed' and that ‘it reminded me so much of what happened to us black people in South Africa'. He saw ‘the humiliation of the Palestinians at checkpoints and roadblocks, suffering like us when young white police officers prevented us from moving about'. Ex-US president Jimmy Carter has added his voice to those calling for an end to Israel's apartheid policies.
We are urging you to support the call from Palestinian civil society for boycott, divestment and sanctions on Israel until it abides by international law and respects Palestinian rights. Please cancel your performance in Tel Aviv. This would send a clear signal that you stand with those struggling against racism and apartheid. I look forward to your response.
Palestine Solidarity Campaign
Palestine Solidarity Campaign thanks Elvis Costello for cancelling concert in Israel
18 May 2010
Elvis Costello has announced on his website that ‘after considerable contemplation that I have lately arrived at the decision that I must withdraw from the two performances scheduled in Israel on the 30th of June and the 1st of July.'
He continued: ‘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.'
Elvis Costello's decision to cancel his concerts in Israel was taken just days after the announcement that Gil Scott-Heron was also cancelling his performance there.
Sarah Colborne, Director of Campaigns and Operations at Palestine Solidarity Campaign, said ‘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. Principled artists and performers are holding firm to such principles in the 21st century, taking a clear stand for peace and justice, and not performing under a regime in Israel which is engaged in an illegal occupation and denies Palestinians their basic human rights. We urged Elvis Costello to respect the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment and sanctions on Israel, and our members and supporters also deluged him expressing their concerns. We are very pleased that Elvis Costello has taken such a stand.'
Elvis Costello signed off his announcement ‘with the hope for peace and understanding'. Elvis Costello's decision not to perform in Israel brings us closer to that peace, understanding and justice which is so desperately needed.
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