Leonard Cohen Sells Out Concert In Israel, Palestine Still Boycotting

On Sunday, Leonard Cohen tickets for a concert to benefit Palestinian and Israeli peace groups sold out in less than 24 hours.

Cohen sold 47,000 tickets, ranging in price from $90 to $315, for his September 24th performance in Ramat Gan. Profits from the concert will benefit Israeli and Palestinian groups working for coexistence.

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The historic show is just three days before the Canadian singer’s 75th birthday.

This isn’t the first time Leonard Cohen has performed in Israel. The influential singer performed there in 1975 and before that he entertained Israeli troops during the 1973 Mideast war.

Since he was going to perform in Israel, Cohen thought it would only be fair to play in Palestine too.

He was wrong.

Cohen’s show in Ramallah was cancelled. The concert was called off not because of security concerns, or lack of running water, but because certain Palestinian groups didn’t appreciate Cohen performing in Israel.

This incredibly audacious attitude can be epitomized by the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel. This fun loving bunch group released a statement saying: “Ramallah will not receive Cohen as long as he is intent on whitewashing Israel’s colonial apartheid regime by performing in Israel.”

Leonard Cohen mixes up a mean mojito.

Leonard Cohen mixes up a mean mojito.

The Ramallah event was being organized by a group called The Palestinian Prisoners’ Club. They could have continued with their preparations but decided to cancel the concert because it was becoming politicized. This group tries desperately hard to avoid politics and just focus on helping Palestinians.

“I wouldn’t call it pressure,” said Qadura Fares, president of the Prisoners’ Club. “We can organize the event—it’s not difficult or impossible—but we prefer not to have these hard discussions.

“We need people like Leonard Cohen to share his support for the Palestinians and it means a lot, but the boycott [campaign] thinks that it’s like the experience in South Africa—that anyone that wants to support the Palestinian struggle for freedom should only visit Palestine and not Israel.”

What a disappointment, especially when Cohen was only going to be performing in front of a 1,000 people in Ramallah. Cohen was doing this concert in the name of peace. However, certain selfish Palestinian groups rejected his compassion out of petty politics.

It was just a simple concert. It wasn’t the Olympics, a G8 Summit or Comic-Con. It was nothing more than Leonard Cohen singing songs for a couple of hours (although it would feel like a couple of days) to some people who are in desperate need of a good time.

Leonard Cohen is one of the most influential performers in all of popular music.

Cohen is Jewish and describes himself as religiously observant. He has never hidden his affiliation with Israel. During the Yom Kippur War he toured IDF bases with a guitar and entertained the troops.

Artists don’t concern themselves with the intricacies of geo-political affairs. They perform their songs and try to make people feel good. You think the organizers of benefit concerts actually delve deeply into the issues they support? Of course not, if they did they’ve surely realize the immense lunacy of their position.

Rejecting Cohen only proves that some powerful voices within the nation of Palestine care nothing for reconciliation and care only for death and destruction.

His concert in Israel benefits the suffering on both sides of the conflict. To reject Cohen is to reject the notion of a peace and favor the continuation of hostilities.

Instead of welcoming Cohen’s gesture with open arms, which would have eventually drawn attention to the Palestinians plight, they decided to remind everyone how deep their belligerence runs.

Their decision is certainly unfathomable to those in the West and to those in the Land of Punt. This is not how you win support.
Update10-07-09/21:44 p.m.

“We don’t know when we’ll pass this way again,” Cohen told the sell-out audience at the Ramat Gan football stadium: “But we promise to give you everything we’ve got tonight.”

Despite fainting on stage the week before, Cohen’s historic Israel show went off without a hitch. The Canadian singer performed three encores in front of 47,000 fans.

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