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An open letter to Leonard Cohen

An Open Letter to Leonard Cohen | British Committee for the Universities of Palestine (BRICUP)

Dear Leonard Cohen:

Your songs have been part of the soundtrack of our lives — like breathing, some of them. But we can’t make sense of why you’ve decided to perform in Israel in September this year.

If we understand anything about Buddhism – your practice of which is public knowledge – it’s that Buddhism advocates ‘right action’. We accept that this precept, like the injunction to ‘love thy neighbour as thyself’, is probably honoured more in the breach than the observance. But we can’t believe you didn’t weigh up performing in Israel in the light of ‘right action’. And apparently you’ve decided that it’s right to take your unavoidably starry and
very newsworthy presence there.

But what does this say to the Palestinians? If you had just emerged from three weeks of unfettered bombing from land, sea and air, with no place to hide and no place to run, your hospitals overwhelmed, sewage running in the streets and white phosphorous burning up your children, what would the news that the great Canadian musician Leonard Cohen had decided to play for your tormentors say to you?

You will perform for a public that by a very large majority had no qualms about its military forces’ onslaught on Gaza (in fact wanted it to continue). You will perform in a state whose propaganda services will extract every ounce of mileage from your presence (they will use it to whitewash their war crimes). As someone who lives in the US, you are saying ‘yah boo sucks’ to the American academics, musicians, film-makers and others (including poet Adrienne Rich), who earlier this year launched the US Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel. And you are telling the Palestinians — who had nothing whatsoever to do with the Holocaust in Europe but have endured the torments of exile and military occupation ever since they were driven out of their country in 1948 — that their suffering doesn’t matter.

Have you come across an Israeli woman called Dr Nurit Peled- Elhanan? She lost her 13 year old daughter to a Palestinian suicide bomber in 1997, but Dr Peled – showing the compassionate greatness of which human beings are sometimes capable – didn’t retreat into rage, revenge or depression. Instead she co-founded an Israeli-Palestinian network called ‘Bereaved Parents for Peace’. When the 10 year old daughter of a Palestinian colleague was shot and killed by an Israeli soldier, Peled said: ’I sit with her mother Salwa and try to say, “We are all victims of occupation”. But my daughter’s murderer had the decency to kill himself. The soldier who killed Abir is probably drinking beer, playing backgammon with his mates and going to discotheques’.

Or going to a Leonard Cohen concert in Ramat Gan. Is this really what you want to be part of?

Yours sincerely,

Professor Haim Bresheeth
Mike Cushman
Professor Hilary Rose
Professor Jonathan Rosenhead

22 April 2009


write to Cohen’s manager asking him to cancel the concert in Israel

You can write to him through his manager, Mr. Robert Kory rkory@rkmgment.com

schedule a protest outside his concerts

USA (May 5-17, May 29-June 2): Minneapolis- Minnesota, Edmonton and Calgary – Alberta, Chicago – Illinois, Detroit- Michigan, Columbia – Maryland, Philadelphia- Pennsylvania, New York City-NY, Boston- Massachusetts, Denver- Colorado

CANADA (May 19-26): Hamilton, Kingston, London, Ottawa-Ontario, Quebec City- Quebec

FRANCE (July 6-9): St. Herblain, Paris, Toulouse, Vienne

UK (July 11,14): London, Liverpool, Belfast (July 26)

IRELAND (July 19-23): Dublin

NORWAY (July 16-17): Langesund, Molde

PORTUGAL (July 30): Lisbon

SPAIN (July 31-August 15, September 12-17): Sevilla, Palma De Mallorca, Girona, Madrid, Granada, Bilbao, Barcelona

ISRAEL (September 24, if we are not successful): Tel Aviv


Israelis call on musician Leonard Cohen to cancel concert | Electronic Intifada

29 April 2009

Dear Leonard Cohen,

We are Jews, Palestinians, Israeli citizens, who hold your poetry and music in high esteem, and it is because of this respect for your artistic contributions and your moral Buddhist commitment to “save all beings” that we hope that our appeal to you to cancel your planned performance in Israel will not fall on deaf ears.

Israel is facing one of its most immoral historical moments. Its ruthless, criminal bashing of the Palestinians has been met with little international criticism or curbing. The silence of most of the world’s governments continues to embolden successive Israeli governments to commit more violent acts. Israel has violated numerous international laws, but so far for Israeli Jews life in Israel goes on as if nothing happened. Indeed, your people, Cohen, have built “a new Dachau, And call it love, Security, Jewish culture,” as you have so perceptively put it yourself in “Questions for Shomrim,” but only a few voices have been raised against these injustices.

It is left for us, citizens of the world, to condemn Israeli atrocities and crimes against humanity. Dissociating ourselves from Israel’s brutal policies is the only nonviolent way now to avoid becoming complicit in the killing, the wounding and the maiming, and the robbing of Palestinians. Faced with all this and more, Palestinians are calling on all people to support their struggle for their basic rights. Unfortunately, recognizing Palestinian rights will require a fundamental shift in Israeli society. We suspect that this change will be achieved only via external pressure. The least that one can do in such a situation is not act as if it is business as usual. We see our society becoming more and more calloused and racist and given your longstanding, vocal commitment to justice, we cannot envision you cooperating with continued Israeli defiance of justice and morality; we cannot envision you playing a part in the Israeli charade of self-righteousness. We appeal to you to add your voice to those brave people the world over who boycott Israel. We urge you to cancel your planned performance in Israel.


Noa Abend, Adv. Ahmad M. Amara, Iris Bar, Yoav Barak, Ronnie Barkan, Smadar Carmon, Adi Dagan, Dr. Aim Deuelle Luski, Yvonne Deutsch, Diana Dolev, Shai Efrati, Prof. Nomi Erteschik-Shir, Naama Farjoun, Eva Ferrero, Racheli Gai, Prof. Rachel Giora, Angela Godfrey-Goldstein, Amos Gvirtz, Tal Haran, Iris Hefets, Ruth Hiller, Tikva Honig-Parnass, Dr. Irit Katriel, Gal Katz, Adam Keller, Yael Lerer, Yossef Lubovsky, Olivia Magnan, Ya’acov Manor, Eilat Maoz
Dr. Ruchama Marton, Dr. Anat Matar, Haggai Matar, Rela Mazali, Dorothy Naor, Dr. David Nir, Dr. Nurit Peled, Leiser Peles, Jonathan Pollak, Yonatan Shapira, Dr. Kobi Snitz, Kerstin Sodergren, Amir Terkel, Adi Winter, Beate Zilversmidt