Published May 18, 2010Elvis Costello has cancelled his upcoming concerts in Israel as an act of protest, joining a growing number of musicians who refuse to perform in the country. Santana and Gil Scott-Heron have also made similar moves recently, because, like Costello, they disagree with Israel's treatment of Palestinians.
Costello was going to play in Israel on June 30 and July 1, but his conscience won out and he cancelled the shows, reports the Guardian. Costello posted a statement on his website saying that after "considerable contemplation" he must call off the shows.
Limor Livnat, culture and sports minister of Israel, responded to Costello's actions by saying, "An artist boycotting his fans in Israel is unworthy of performing here," reports the Guardian. Israel also apparently thought noted linguist and scholar Noam Chomsky was unworthy, as he was recently prevented from entering the West Bank to give a lecture at a Palestinian university.
Here is Costello's full statement:
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.
I offer my sincere apologies for any disappointment to the advance ticket holders as well as to the organizers.
My thanks also go to the members of the Israeli media with whom I had most rewarding and illuminating conversations. They may regard these exchanges as a waste of their time but they were of great value and help to me in gaining an appreciation of the cultural scene.
I hope it is possible to understand that I am not taking this decision lightly or so I may stand beneath any banner, nor is it one in which I imagine myself to possess any unique or eternal truth.
It is a matter of instinct and conscience.
It has been necessary to dial out the falsehoods of propaganda, the double game and hysterical language of politics, the vanity and self-righteousness of public communiqués from cranks in order to eventually sift through my own conflicted thoughts.
I have come to the following conclusions.
One must at least consider any rational argument that comes before the appeal of more desperate means.
Sometimes a silence in music is better than adding to the static and so an end to it.
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