Singer–songwriter Elvis Costello, in symbolic support of the Palestinian people, cancelled two concerts he was scheduled to play in Israel. Costello was scheduled to play Israel June 30 and July 1. However, Costello had second thoughts, claiming his “conscience” dictated that he pull out of the performances.
Costello joins other performers who have decided not to play in Israel, including Santana.
In an announcement on his Web site explaining his decision, Costello writes:
It is 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.
One lives in hope that music is more than mere noise, filling up idle time, whether intending to elate or lament.
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.
Some will regard all of this an unknowable without personal experience but if these subjects are actually too grave and complex to be addressed in a concert, then it is also quite impossible to simply look the other way.
Costello is eloquent, however, the reaction to Costello’s decision has been mixed:
Sarah Colborne of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign told the Guardian, “We are increasingly seeing artists taking a stand against allowing themselves to be used by the Israeli state to normalize their occupation and apartheid policies against Palestinians.” Meanwhile, Israeli journalist Ariana Melamed criticized Costello for canceling his performances after tickets had already been sold, saying “The belated discovery of the local reality shows that [Costello and other Israel boycotters] actually have no ongoing interest in the state of human rights around here, but rather, a momentary interest in a politically correct label… After all, the occupation and oppression did not start all of a sudden, exactly in the period between the start of ticket sales and the show, right?”
Elvis Costello is an artist – he should follow his conscience. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a murky, dark affair, where nobody is right, and everybody mourns with blood on their hands.
Costello is trying to make a difference the only way he can. He may be right, he may be wrong, but his aim is true.
In this wicked world we search for light in the darkness of insanity. Is all hope lost? Is there only pain, and hatred, and misery? Where are the strong? Who are the trusted? Where is the harmony? What’s so funny about peace love and understanding?