Activists Hope To Persuade Leonard Cohen To Cancel Israel Show

By Cnaan Liphshiz (Haaretz)

Published May 11, 2009.
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Anti-Israel activists are stepping up efforts to dissuade Leonard Cohen from performing in Israel in September.

The activists urge supporters to “apply pressure during his tour by local groups along his path,” in their most recent appeal, which was circulated on Monday in various pro-Palestinian mailing lists.

They added that letters “and various actions” might prove “instrumental in helping him take the decision to cancel his last concert.” This, they explain, is because “it is obvious the situation in Palestine and Israel is quite clear to Leonard Cohen, to judge by his song entitled Questions for Shomrim. The poem begins with the words “And will my people build a new Dachau and call it love, security, Jewish culture.” It also reads: “You were our singing heroes in ‘48, do you dare ask yourselves what you are now” and: “now my son must die for he’s an Arab.”

The anti-Israel activists called on supporters to write to Cohen’s manager and leave messages on his official online forum. They published a list of destinations on Cohen’s tour, ending with Israel “if we are not successful.”

In the 1973 Yom Kippur War, Leonard Cohen flew to Israel to perform before reserves and regular soldiers fighting in the Sinai desert.

Two main letters of protest against the concert have been circulated so far. The most recent one was co-signed by a hundred Israelis and Palestinians, who wrote that Israel’s “ruthless, criminal bashing of the Palestinians has met with little international criticism.”

Addressing Cohen and urging him to cancel, the Israelis said: “We cannot envision you cooperating with continued Israeli defiance of justice and morality; we cannot envision you playing a part in the Israeli charade of self-righteousness.” They included the poem Questions for Shomrim in their appeal.

The first letter of protest was published last month by Pro-Palestinian professors from the U.K. from the British Committee for the Universities of Palestine, who warned Cohen that he would be performing “for a public that by a very large majority had no qualms about its military forces’ onslaught” in Gaza.

The scholars — Haim Bresheeth, Mike Cushman, Hilary Rose and Jonathan Rosenhead, added: “You will perform in a state whose propaganda services will extract every ounce of mileage from your presence. They will use it to whitewash their war crimes.”

The authors of the letter explained that Cohen needs to cancel the show in Ramat Gan lest it be attended by Arab-killing Israeli soldiers who are “drinking beer” and “playing backgammon with their mates and going to discotheques.”






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