Elvis Costello will not play in Israel

Word has just been sent around that Elvis Costello has decided to pull out of his concerts in Israel and abide by the Palestinian call for Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions [BDS].

I saw Elvis Costello at Festival Hall in Brisbane in 1978 during the height of the Bjelke-Petersons attacks on Democratic Rights. Costello made some mention of the Bjelke-Peterson regime during his set after the ‘Angels’. A friend was falsely imprisioned by police after that concert.

Now Elvis Costello says that he is not going to perform in Israel.


However in his official statement titled: ‘It Is After Considerable Contemplation’ he states:

“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 am also keenly aware of the sensitivity of these themes in the wake of so many despicable acts of violence perpetrated in the name of liberation.”

Elvis Costello still does not get it, even after massacres by the Israeli army in Gaza, in Caana, the bombing of Beirut, and the massacres by Israeli proxies (the Phalange) in Tel al-Zaatar, and again in Chabra and in Chatilla. Even after Israel bombed the UN school in Gaza, Elvis Costello still does not undertand where ‘despicable acts of violence (are)  perpetrated’ and by whom.

BDS and Intifada
What a sad ally for the BDS campaign to have. I wonder about this campaign. We do not know what is to happen, we do not know where history will take us. In the wake of the last intifada, Palestinian organisations in the West Bank have called for this campaign, so I support it.

At the same time some rule out another intifada and so place their hope in the BDS camapign. Fair enough. Meanwhile Palestinians on the West Bank have their hands full trying to avoid another Al Nakba (“catastrophe”). That catastrophe has already hit Gazans.

In his public statement, Elvis Costello chooses the high moral ground and lectures Palestinians:

“One must at least consider any rational argument that comes before the appeal of more desperate means.”

There is probably no sense in attaching political significance to the lyrics of Elvis Costello’s songs.

‘Radio Radio’ — a popular song that Elvis Costello sang at Festival Hall in Brisbane all those years ago goes like this:

Radio is a sound salvation
Radio is cleaning up the nation
They say you better listen to the voice of reason
But they don’t give you any choice
’cause they think that it’s treason.
So you had better do as you are told.
You better listen to the radio.

Somehow I don’t think the Israeli government will miss Elvis Costello.

Breaking the siege of Gaza
Meanwhile there is a flotilla of boats trying to break the siege of Gaza. Smaller attempts to land in Gaza by sea have been successful in the past. These boats have the support of Greek and Turkish trade unionists. They carry people and supplies by sea in much the same way that ‘Viva Palestina’ convoy did by land across North Africa.

If the Israeli embargo of Gaza is broken by land and sea, that is a significant defeat for the apartheid state.

Ian Curr
May 2010

Free, Free, Palestine!

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