Only two weeks after British rock icon Elvis Costello told The Jerusalem Post
that the only answer to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is “dialogue and reconciliation,” he decided to take himself out of the equation by cancelling his two shows scheduled for June 30 and July 1 at the Caesaerea Amphitheater.
Costello posted an announcement on his Web site over the weekend explaining his decision to join the boycott of Israel. “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,” he wrote.
Saying he couldn’t imagine receiving another invitation to perform in Israel, Costello wrote that since the conflict was “actually too grave and complex to be addressed in a concert, then it is also quite impossible to simply look the other way… sometimes a silence in music is better than adding to the static.”
Costello was set to make his Israeli debut with his new folk/bluegrass band The Sugarcanes, and in his conversation with the Post
two weeks ago, he said that he had given much thought to playing in the country, but decided that he was against efforts to boycott performances.
“I know from the experience of a friend who is from Israel and from
people who have worked there that there is a difference of opinion there
among Israelis regarding their government’s policies. It seems to me
that dialogue is essential. I don’t presume to think that my performance
is going to be part of the process,” Costello told the
“The people who call for a boycott of Israel own the narrow view that
performing there must be about profit and endorsing the hawkish policy
of the government. It’s like never appearing in the US because you
didn’t like Bush’s policies or boycotting England because of Margaret
Alive Productions, which was promoting the Costello shows, said in a statement that they were shocked by Costello’s letter to them, which he later posted on his Web site.
“In the continuous contact we’ve had with Costello’s management, there was never even a shred of a clue that he was considering cancelling,” the statement said.
In a written response to Costello, Alive Productions appealed to him to reconsider his “sudden and extreme” decision.
“Back in February, when you confirmed the performances in Israel, you were surely aware of the situation in the Middle East, and the existing long conflict between the two nations with different wants and dreams. You are probably familiar with the history and the global reality that we in Israel are confronted with,” the letter stated.
“Perhaps there, it is easier to bury one's head in the sand and again use prejudice as a conduit to cultural discrimination of a large culture-loving public… music should be a voice of peace and brotherhood, a unifying force and should not be turned off merely because the background noises seem too loud.
“It is impossible to understand how your participation in a music concert, that is totally apolitical, can be interpreted as a political act. However, there can be no doubt that cancelling a performance for political reasons, and refusing to perform in Israel, can only be interpreted as a very strong political statement. Your decision will only push people further apart and enabling those wrong-doers to win through cultural terror.”
Alive Productions, which is also bringing Costello’s wife, singer/pianist Diana Krall to the Ra’anana Amphitheater on August 4th, reassured fans that they had received word from her management (which she shares with Costello) that she had no plans to cancel her concert.