Elvis Costello boycotting Israel, helps Israelis out of their state of denial

Posted: May 20th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: culture, In the News | Tags: , , , , , | 11 Comments »

Elvis Costello, who cancelled his shows in Israel for political reasons, is extremely unpopular here these days. I’ve read several articles condemning him for this decision, and not one supporting him. Culture Minister Limor Livnat declared that “Costello is not worthy of performing here,” and many people commented that they would never listen to him again.

But check this out: while claiming that a more honest and effective move by Costello would have been to come here and express his opinions publicly, many commentators and writers also argued that Israel should end the occupation ASAP, or it stands the risk of facing many more such incidents.

Furthermore, Costello’s decision has been the talk of the day for many people  – I also had a ticket for his Tel Aviv gig – and even when people hated him, they had to think about the political issues and about their consequences, and especially on where they stand. Just like after Gil Scott-Heron had decided not to come here, in the past couple of days I saw friends who never discuss politics going into long debates on Facebook because of Costello. For a country that is in a constant state of denial regarding the occupation, this is no small thing.

So much for the ineffectiveness of the boycott.

11 Comments on “Elvis Costello boycotting Israel, helps Israelis out of their state of denial”

  1. 1 Maoz said at 12:47 pm on May 20th, 2010:

    You echoed my exact thoughts.

    Mako had a surprising take:

  2. 2 Ami Kaufman said at 8:20 am on May 21st, 2010:

    I have no problem with Costello not performing for political reasons. Especially when they’re the right ones (meaning, of course, the ones I support).
    But I do have a problem with artists booking a concert and then cancelling, as if they suddenly understood the cruelty of the occupation. Gimme a break, it’s been going on for longer than a week.
    If you want to go down the BDS route – fine. But there’s no need to tease.

  3. 3 noam said at 9:15 am on May 21st, 2010:

    Ami: if he hadn’t booked and canceled, how could we know he is boycotting…

    but i think the explanation is much more trivial: the manager probably booked the gig, Costello approved it, and only then gave it a real thought. I think it’s ok. people have the right to change their mind. the heart of the matter remains the same.

  4. 4 Ami Kaufman said at 9:42 am on May 21st, 2010:

    So, booking and cancelling is what all artists should do now? ;) Hmmm…

    As for the “manager explanation” – that indeed sounds reasonable. But I don’t think many ticket holders and fans would agree with your use of the word “trivial”. I’m sure there are thousands of them who are deeply disappointed.

    Maybe Costello should improve his “approval procedure”, especially when it comes to touchy issues such as Israel, and do a little more of the “thinking” before the “doing”, if ya know what I mean…

  5. 5 Freidenker said at 4:14 pm on May 22nd, 2010:

    One drop in a bucket of piss.

  6. 6 Philip said at 12:13 am on May 24th, 2010:

    I suggest that everyone join the new Boycott Elvis Costello Products group on Facebook.

    Here is the link:

  7. 7 Herschel said at 4:00 am on May 24th, 2010:

    Typical egotistical Livni answer – ‘not worthy of performing in Israel’, surely a lady in her position would come up with a well thought out answer and not this dribble that makes me embarresed to be Israeli.

  8. 8 Reut said at 11:48 am on May 28th, 2010:

    I disagree with you about this whole booking-and-then-cancelling we’ve seen with Costello and Heron being a trivial thing. It’s not like the concerts were booked one week and then a couple of weeks later cancelled after the artist “noticed” that their managers had booked them.
    I believe that in both cases the artists got a lot of flame for booking the concerts and realized that their anti-Israel fanbase is probably bigger and more important than their pro-Israeli one. It may sound cynical, but it’s the explanation that makes the most sense in my opinion and if that’s the case, well, fair enough.

    My main problem with these things is that when an artist does something like that they are not punishing the Israeli government for its cruelty and stupidity – they are punishing their own fans. This makes the boycot feel “personal”, which as an Israeli living abroad is quite a big problem nowadays.
    While I don’t agree with most things our government does, I find it very uneasing that outside of Israel one needs to always worry about disclosing being Israeli. Somehow opposing the country’s politics has been translated into opposing anything and anyone Israeli in general, and I have too often found myself treated differently by people from the moment they discovered where I am from.

    These “cultural boycots” seem to encourage this kind of political stand, blaming the people as a collective for the sins of their government. I find this trend very worrying.

  9. 9 noam said at 12:58 pm on May 28th, 2010:

    Reut – putting aside the booking-and-canceling debate (after all we can’t know what goes on in the artists’ minds, so your guess is as good as mine), I don’t have a problem with punishing the fans in Israel. I also don’t think it’s a problem that people criticize Israelis abroad. For me, Israel is Israeli politics, at least when it comes to the occupation. while I don’t call for boycott (it makes little sense as an Israeli), I understand those who chose not to come or do business with us right now.

    i wrote more about it after the Scott-Heron gig got canceled.

  10. 10 Reut said at 2:49 pm on May 29th, 2010:

    thank you for the redirect, I see you touched the exact topic I was referring to.
    I guess I’ll just have to disagree with you on this one, maybe because I actually spend most of my time outside of Israel and don’t think I personally deserve the kind of treatment I often get from people here, people who don’t even wanna hear me and realise that my opinions may be very simialr to theirs.
    When I meet an Iranian person I don’t have any hard feelings for them because their government is evil, but when Europeans or Arabs meet me I get the feeling, or am bluntly told, they’d prefer it if I went back to wherever I came from (split me up between Syria, Romania, Yemen and well, Palestine).
    I’m gonna automatically “lost the argument” now, but frankly, it’s hard not to use the “A-S” word sometimes in these cases, and I think supporting this approach can eventually have dire consequences.
    Just my two cents.

  11. 11 noam said at 3:06 pm on May 29th, 2010:

    Reut – thanks for the comment. I also encounter much hate from “the other side”, and I did live in Europe for some time, and not in a very pro-Israel city. seeing swastikas in the Metro with slogans such as “down with Israel” is not a pleasant experience.

    but does the fact that we find ourselves with unpleasant company when we take a stand makes this position wrong?

    lets say you were convinced that Israel would never leave the West Bank or give rights to the Palestinians. I mean totally convinced – just for the sake of the debate. would you still object the international community in its attempts to make Israel rethink these issues, just because some very extreme elements would use this opportunity to delegitimize our very existence? and if so, what other course of action are you left with?