Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Will Elton John cancel his Israel concert? Rock stars line up for [and against] Israel

Paul played, Carlos canceled. What will Elton do?

Boycott Targets Rock Stars -Nathan Guttman

[T]he decision by Elvis Costello to cancel his planned concerts in Israel is being viewed as a feather in the cap of pro-boycott activists, but for Israelis, a major setback.

Costello described his decision as a “matter of instinct and conscience.” Israel’s culture minister, Limor Livnat, responded by saying that Costello “is not worthy” of performing in Israel.

The movement for a cultural boycott of Israel has had [only] limited success. It failed to dissuade musicians Paul McCartney and Leonard Cohen from giving concerts in Israel, but took pride in positive responses from several authors and poets.

Numerous other stars, such as Madonna, have been unmoved by the cultural boycott campaign, performing successfully in Israel even recently.

But Costello’s action is the first open endorsement of the boycott movement by an A-list artist. [T]he performer argued that he could not perform in Israel because by doing so, “it may be assumed that one has no mind for the suffering of the innocent." [sic]

Another successful boycott campaign was directed at poet and performing artist Gil Scott-Heron. Shortly after announcing his plan to perform in Tel Aviv on May 25, Scott-Heron, who is known for his political activism, was blasted by supporters of the boycott movement, who called on him to cancel his visit. Scott-Heron’s April 24 concert in London was disrupted by pro-Palestinian protesters, and at the end of the show, he announced the cancellation of his Tel Aviv tour.

Organizers explained that they have been focusing on artists who they believe could be open to the idea of culturally boycotting Israel. “Obviously, we can’t target everyone, so we single out those who we think will be more responsive and open to the issue,” said Hannah Mermelstein, a spokesperson for The New York Campaign for the Boycott of Israel.

Currently, the focus [of the campaign] is on singer Elton John, who is scheduled to perform in Tel Aviv on June 17.

The [campaign] claims that Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu is using gay tourism to Israel as part of the country’s rebranding campaign. The clip urges John not to “let Bibi use you as his gay Band-Aid.”

Other high-profile artists being targeted are Bob Dylan, who plans to give a concert in Israel at the end of May, and Joan Armatrading, who is scheduled to give two shows in the first week of June.

[G]uitar legend Carlos Santana, who had planned a stop in Israel as part of his tour of Europe and the Middle East. Thousands of tickets to the concert, which was scheduled to take place in a large soccer stadium in Jaffa, had already been sold before Santana and his group announced that the concert had been canceled due to “unforeseen scheduling conflicts.” The Israeli daily Yediot Aharonot quoted unnamed sources from the Israeli production company organizing the concert as saying that Santana had been under “pressure from anti-Israel figures” to cancel the visit.
[The Forward]

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