By Kenneth J. Theisen
Musician/composer Elvis Costello was scheduled to perform twice in Tel Aviv, Israel in June and July of this year. In a courageous stand, Costello has announced on his website that he has cancelled his appearances at the shows citing Israel’s treatment of Palestinians.
Costello has joined other artists such as Gil Scott-Heron and Santana who have also cancelled scheduled Israeli performances. Costello is to be commended for his action and words. We must also defend his actions from the political attacks to which he will now be subjected.
In his website he refers to his action as “a matter of instinct and conscience.” He writes, “There are occasions when merely having your name added to a concert schedule may be interpreted as a political act ... and it may be assumed that one has no mind for the suffering of the innocent…I must believe that the audience for the coming concerts would have contained many people who question the policies of their government on settlement and deplore conditions that visit intimidation, humiliation or much worse on Palestinian civilians in the name of national security...I hope it is possible to understand that I am not taking this decision lightly.”
I commend Costello for his decision. I am sure he is aware of the controversy it will cause and also that he will be attacked by Israeli apologists. He will be accused of anti-Semitism and other calumnies. I have experiences this many times as I have written many articles critical of Israel and it policies.
But it is my hope that in stirring debate people will examine what is actually going on in Palestine and review the 60 year occupation of Palestine by the Zionists. Any unbiased examination will reveal 60 years of crimes by the Israeli Zionist state and the complicity of the U.S. imperialists in these crimes.
I know some readers of this article likely support Israel and have bought into the Zionist propaganda that portray Israel as a victim, or believe that the current treatment of Palestinians is a deviation from Zionist principles. I urge people to have an open mind and to study the facts and then draw the appropriate conclusions. People also need to examine the role and support of the U.S. government in maintaining Israel and permitting it to act in the way it does in Palestine.