Friday, May 21, 2010
Peace, Love and (Mis)Understanding
Elvis Costello just announced that he will cancel his concerts in Israel. He writes on his website: "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...." What a shame! The growing anti-Israel campaign where Israel is seen as increasingly illegitimate and likened to apartheid South Africa is gaining adherents in many circles. There are divestment campaigns and now calls for boycotts. All of these suggest a fundamental misunderstanding of the situation. Israel is by no means perfect, but it has steadfastly sought peace despite decades of Arab belligerence. Most Israelis support a two-state solution. Even Netanyahu affirms the idea. To be sure there are more Israelis to convince, but it is Palestinian intransigence in general and insistence in particular of a "right of return" that stalls progress. Costello will not advance peace or love or understanding by refusing to play in Israel. He has only sided with those who say that Israel is always wrong and state that if only Israel would withdraw from here or there, then there would be peace. I will always say, "Great songs Elvis." Now I must add, "Shameful decision. You have not advanced 'peace, love and understanding.'"