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Monday July 13, 2009 10:31 by Raymond Deane - IPSC
Palestinian civil society has called for a comprehensive campaign of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against the Israeli state, including a cultural boycott. Leonard Cohen must be persuaded not to break this boycott.
Leonard Cohen is performing at the O2 Arena in Dublin on the 19th, 20th, 22nd and 23d of this month.
This is part of Cohen's world tour which was originally scheduled to end with a performance in Tel Aviv, Israel, on 24th September; plans to supplement this with a performance in Ramallah in the occupied Palestinian West Bank two days later may now have been abandoned.
The Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) is not calling for a boycott of the Dublin concerts. But we will be standing outside the venue each evening singing chants, distributing leaflets and Palestinian flags, and encouraging concert-goers to send Cohen the message: DON'T VISIT ISRAEL!
This message has been heard at every concert in this tour, from New York City to Berlin. Last May at Radio City Music Hall a loud and colourful demonstration was held by ADALAH New York, a coalition of organisations including the National Council of Arab-Americans, and Jews Against the Occupation; on 2nd July Cohen's concert at O2 World Berlin was picketed by EJJP (European Jews for a Just Peace), an unprecedented event in Germany. Jews have been noticeably prominent in this worldwide campaign to dissuade the singer from visiting Israel.
In the UK, BRICUP (British Committee for the Universities of Palestine) published an open letter signed by 4 Jewish academics who wrote: "You will perform for a public that by a very large majority had no qualms about its military forces' onslaught on Gaza... You will perform in a state whose propaganda services will extract every ounce of mileage from your presence... And you are telling the Palestinians ...that their suffering doesn't matter."
In Israel, 115 Jewish and Palestinian public figures signed an open letter stating their "hope that our appeal to you to cancel your planned performance in Israel will not fall on deaf ears."
In Ramallah, PACBI, the Palestinian Association for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, wrote: "We consider your performance in Israel a form of complicity in its grave violations of international law and trampling on human rights principles." Concerning the proposed Ramallah concert, PACBI added: "Such attempts at 'balance' not only immorally equate the oppressor with the oppressed, taking a neutral position on the oppression; they also are an insult to the Palestinian people, as they assume that we are naive enough to accept such token shows of 'solidarity' that are solely intended to cover up grave acts of collusion in whitewashing Israel's crimes."
All of these statements and messages are based on the July 2005 call by almost 200 Palestinian civil society organisations "for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel until it Complies with International Law and Universal Principles of Human Rights."
In an interview with the Guardian last Friday, Cohen said: "Large numbers of people are dodging bombs, having their nails pulled out in dungeons, facing starvation, disease. So I think we've really got to be circumspect about how seriously we take our own anxieties today."
If Cohen sings in Tel Aviv, whether or not he "balances" it with a Ramallah concert, he will be within a stone's throw of people who are suffering precisely such horrors because of the Israeli occupation. The IPSC calls on Leonard Cohen not to visit Israel. We are calling on Cohen fans to influence their hero not to break the growing boycott campaign against Israeli apartheid. We are calling on lovers of justice and peace to come to the O2 Arena from 6.30PM onwards on the evenings of Cohen's concerts and participate in peaceful and good-humoured demonstrations to convey this message:
LEONARD COHEN: DON'T VISIT ISRAEL!