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Performers and Israeli BDS

Michelle
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Joined: May 10 2001

I thought an omnibus thread about performers who are following or not following the BDS movement (that is, refusing or not refusing to play in Israel) might be useful, since there are a number of stories out right now about various performers who are either cancelling or being pressured to cancel performances in Israel.

Elvis Costello respects the BDS call and pulls out of Israeli concerts.

Quote:

Only two weeks after British rock icon Elvis Costello told The Jerusalem Post that the only answer to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is “dialogue and reconciliation,” he decided to take himself out of the equation by cancelling his two shows scheduled for June 30 and July 1 at the Caesaerea Amphitheater.

Costello posted an announcement on his Web site over the weekend explaining his decision to join the boycott of Israel. “There are occasions when merely having your name added to a concert schedule may be interpreted as a political act that resonates more than anything that might be sung and it may be assumed that one has no mind for the suffering of the innocent,” he wrote.

Saying he couldn’t imagine receiving another invitation to perform in Israel, Costello wrote that since the conflict was “actually too grave and complex to be addressed in a concert, then it is also quite impossible to simply look the other way… sometimes a silence in music is better than adding to the static.”



Comments

Michelle
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Joined: May 10 2001

What I particularly like about this story is that he had made a statement two weeks ago saying he was going to play in Israel as planned, but then, after thinking about it, he came to a different conclusion -- and he had the courage to change his mind and say so.  He's getting a rough ride from the Jerusalem Post article I quoted above (if you read on).  The slant of the piece is clearly against his decision.  And he must have known he'd be vilified.

Good for him.


Unionist
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Joined: Dec 11 2005

Quote:
One lives in hope that music is more than mere noise, filling up idle time, whether intending to elate or lament.

Then there are occasions when merely having your name added to a concert schedule may be interpreted as a political act that resonates more than anything that might be sung 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.

Elvis Costello's full statement


Boom Boom
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Joined: Dec 29 2004
I love the Elvis Costello show on CTV - he has on the most amazing guests, and he is incredibly talented. I don't have an Elvis Costello album yet - any suggestions? ps: I apologise for the thread drift.

Star Spangled C...
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Joined: Sep 15 2008

Oh. So Elvis Costello, the guy who once called Ray Charles a "blind, ignorant nigger", is boycotting Israel? Wow. I cower in awe of his moral authority.


Michelle
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Joined: May 10 2001

Heh.  And yet, apartheid supporters at the J-Post fawned all over him when he took the original position that he wasn't going to cancel.  And I'll go even one further - I'll bet the usual apartheid apologists here would have too, had he not changed his mind and it was brought up here.  But now, they'll be all, "Oh, Elvis said a racist word once."

His comment was made in 1979, 31 years ago.  He apologized right away, and has probably been apologetic ever since when it's brought up.  It was a a stupid and racist thing to say, and he deserved to be called on it.

Quote:

In March 1979, Costello capped off this productive period in his extra-artistic life by getting himself into a scrap with Stephen Stills (of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young fame) and Bonnie Bramlett (a minor singer from the '60s) in a hotel bar in Ohio. Again motivated by an unclear principle, he did his best to offend them, finally resorting to a burst of profanity and bigotry, capped with the assertion that Ray Charles was a "blind, ignorant nigger."

There's no evidence that Costello was a racist -- he'd been active in Rock Against Racism before it was fashionable and was too smart in any event to let it show if he was -- but he was being as stupid, reckless and out of control as any of the broken-down '60s stars his energy, brains and invective were supposed to be an antidote for. In any event, Bramlett industriously publicized the exchange and Costello tried to explain and apologize. He took his lumps in a months-long transatlantic brouhaha; to this day some serious critics hold him in contempt.

Hands up how many people have never made a racist comment that they later realized (or even at the time realized) was completely unacceptable.  Anyone?  My hand isn't up.

Have your Israeli heroes apologized yet for the apartheid they're wreaking on Palestinians, SSC?  I thought not.  You should cower in awe of many people's moral authority, but not the people you stick up for regularly on babble.  Elvis Costello got overrefreshed one night 31 years ago and used the N-word in a conversation and apologized for it after he'd sobered up and got rightfully called on it.  Israel is murdering and ethnically cleansing Palestinians to this day and doesn't ever apologize for it.

You do the math.


Star Spangled C...
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Joined: Sep 15 2008

My "Israeli heroes" consist of a bunch of research scientists and one tennis player. I don't know what they have to apologize for. Making medical breakthroughs? Being great at sports?


Michelle
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Joined: May 10 2001

Quote:

The Ray Charles Incident

Costello and the Attractions toured the UK and Europe early in 1979 and then returned to the US for a third time to undertake their most ambitious tour yet. However, the pressures of life on the road, in addition to the turmoil of Costello's personal relationships, large amounts of alcohol, plus the hostility of Costello and his manager Jake Riviera to the press, all contributed to an unfortunate incident in Columbus, Ohio in March 1979. A drunken slanging match in a Holiday Inn bar between Costello (and the Attractions) and members of Steven Stills' entourage (including Bonnie Bramlett) led to both sides making ill-considered remarks about British and American musicians. However, only Costello's derogatory comments about certain African-American musicians were reported to the press. The subsequent press furore was reminiscent of the outrage generated in the US by the out-of-context rehashing of John Lennon's "We're more popular than Jesus" remark in 1966. Despite his performances at

  Rock Against Racism

"Rock Against Racism" shows in the UK, and his anti-fascism songs "Less Than Zero" and "Night Rally", Costello was forced to hastily convene a US press conference and apologise for his statements. Ray Charles, who bore the brunt of Costello's reported remarks, certainly holds Costello no ill will, and commented that "drunken talk isn't meant to be printed in the paper." The tour was quickly wrapped up, despite "Armed Forces" riding high in the charts, and Costello did not return to the US again until 1981, this defusing any commercial momentum he had generated. It is likely that Columbia’s ultimate decision not to release either "What's So Funny ('Bout Peace Love and Understanding)" or "Olivers Army" as singles in the US may well have been made in the wake of the "Columbus Incident". Columbia certainly made no further attempt to promote "Armed Forces" despite its Top Ten chart placing, a decision which saw the album fall out of the Top Ten as quickly as it had arrived there. It is rumoured that Columbia executives even considered cancelling Costello’s contract at this time. For once, Columbia may have been grateful for Costello’s and Riveria’s "No Interview" policy, as the lack of Costello’s face on the cover of any major magazines probably helped the controversy to blow over more quickly. Subsequent events would demonstrate that Elvis Costello was certainly no racist, beginning with Costello’s work as the producer of The Specials, a multi-racial band, during 1979. Their self-titled album went on to top the charts in the UK.

From Elvis Costello's website

Obviously, having a multi-racial band is no get-out-of-racism-free card.  But it's ridiculous to bring up a racist comment someone made while having a drunken pissing contest at a bar over thirty years ago and has apologized and tried to make up for since as a reason to discount a current anti-racist action they take.


Michelle
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Joined: May 10 2001

When have you ever, even once, had anything critical to say about Israel, or people like Heather Reisman who support their military operations?  You've sure got her back, don't you?

Meanwhile, you smear some guy who takes a principled stand against apartheid with a racist comment he made over 30 years ago and has apologized for since.

Maybe if you expended even a fraction of the energy you spend on criticizing Palestinian rights activists here, on criticizing the Israeli government and the people who support them, you'd have more credibility.


Star Spangled C...
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Joined: Sep 15 2008

You would be right, except that I don't consider what he's doing now to be "anti-racist" at all. Anti-Semitic perhaps. Anti-racist? No.


Michelle
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Joined: May 10 2001

Figures.  And you're lecturing us on "moral authority"?

Whatever.  I'm done talking to you in this thread.  Maybe others won't bother with you either now that your little smear has been debunked.


Star Spangled C...
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Joined: Sep 15 2008

Michelle wrote:

When have you ever, even once, had anything critical to say about Israel, or people like Heather Reisman who support their military operations?  You've sure got her back, don't you?

I've been quite critical of Heather Reisman and don't shop at Indigo when I'm back home because I don't like their effect on independent bookstores. That's a legitimate concern. I just don't think that the fact that she donates money toprovide college educations to people who've served in the Israeli army to be reasonable grounds for denying her a degree. As for the 'fraction of my energy", it seems like amny haters of Israel spend far more than a fraction of THEIR energy attacking a state which, no doubt, is severely flawed (like Canada, theUnited States and every other country) but whose human rights record is far less concerning than manyother countries in the world. I wish they would spend a fraction of the energy they extend to attacking people for accepting to literary awards to condemning, say, the Iranian government which executes teenagers on the suspicion of being gay.


Star Spangled C...
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Joined: Sep 15 2008

Michelle wrote:

Figures.  And you're lecturing us on "moral authority"?

Whatever.  I'm done talking to you in this thread.  Maybe others won't bother with you either now that your little smear has been debunked.

Little smear? He called somebody the N-word, jsut about the most offensive thing one can say. Pointing out that it was in '79 is only an excuse if if it were 1879. Yeah, I've gotten drunk and said some silly things before. Never called someone that word. How bout you?


Michelle
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Joined: May 10 2001

Excuse me, I wasn't calling what Costello said "a little smear".  I said that you were smearing him by bringing up something terrible that he said 30 years ago, but has apologized and tried to make up for since.  I already said above that what he said was stupid and racist and that he deserved to be called on it, so don't try and twist my words into some fantasy where you have me saying that it's not so bad to call people the n-word.

No, I've never calling anyone the n-word, drunk or sober, but I've certainly said some racist things in the past, either out of ignorance, or out of some sort of stupid politically-incorrect-joke bravado.

Yeah, you got me to respond by twisting my words.  Congratulations.


Polunatic2
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Joined: Mar 12 2006

Quote:
 He called somebody the N-word.

31 years ago. And apologized. But he should not be cut any slack? What if he had performed in Israel? Then it would have been okay?

Let's remember that in 1979 Israel was in an alliance with South Africa providing them with arms to crush the resistance to apartheid. I guess it was OK to help kill people as long as they never used the "N word". 

Quote:
 

Yeah, I've gotten drunk and said some silly things before.

Nice that you have forgiven yourself so easily. 

Quote:
 Anti-Semitic perhaps.

Good try. 


Michelle
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Joined: May 10 2001

I think it's crossing a line for any babbler to label people who support BDS "anti-semitic", even with weasel words like "perhaps".

There are a lot of babblers who support BDS.  That post is indirectly accusing them of anti-semitism too.


Noveyea
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Joined: May 18 2010

Michelle wrote:

I thought an omnibus thread about performers who are following or not following the BDS movement ...

 

blah blah blah yawn

[poop pic removed by moderator. So sue me.]


remind
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Joined: Jun 25 2004

Now, first and foremost, one has to realize that if Israel, and the organizers of this event Costello is now boycotting, had issues with Costello's use of the N word over 30 years ago,  they would not have invited him to play there, or allowed it.

 

For Israeli apologists to use his use of the N word, to bash him for following the boycott, is hypocrisy at its worst.

Really, if such was the case of outrage over it, he should not have been invited in the first place.

 

Did they think they could use his past faux pas to  pressure him to play once invited? As he would have to be aware that he would be targeted with it should he refuse...

 

..am now thinking of the impact on Atwood's book sales, had Chapters Indigo,  refused to carry them anymore.....not that I am saying that happened or anything, but it would have been good leverage....

 


Caissa
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Joined: Jun 14 2006

Language is interesting.

People who support BDS are sometimes called anti-semitic.

People who do not support BDS are sometimes called Zionists.

I find both characterizations to be unacceptable.


Catchfire
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Joined: Apr 16 2003

....Aaand Noveyea is gone.


Slumberjack
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Joined: Aug 8 2005

Too bad about the pic being removed though.  It's not often we get a new poster showing ID.


remind
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Joined: Jun 25 2004

Hmph...I was trying to decide what type of poop it was, and had settled on horse, but was going to ask other babblers what they thought.

And.... I thought it an apt picture of the poop that is now trying to be spread about Costello.

 

And thanks Michelle, for dispelling that, as I had not heard about that 1979 drunken pissing match, so would not have know about the background to the attempted smear by SCC. Was involved in the BC election heavily that year, and was heavily pregnant.....so my world was not that big.

 

As I too watch Costello's show, when opportunity arises. The music is great and so are the stories, so I would have hated to have to boycott it, had he stayed on the tour ticket.

 

 


Polunatic2
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Joined: Mar 12 2006

[aside]Costello plays himself on Treme a new HBO series about post-Katrina New Orleans. I saw the 1st two episodes and quite liked the show.[/aside]


Slumberjack
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Joined: Aug 8 2005

Looked like bull to me.


genstrike
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Joined: May 1 2008

Caissa wrote:

Language is interesting.

People who support BDS are sometimes called anti-semitic.

People who do not support BDS are sometimes called Zionists.

I find both characterizations to be unacceptable.

I think there is a difference between these two statements though.  The first is generally a smear with no bearing in truth when it is applied to Palestinian solidarity activists instead of actual anti-semites.

The second, it seems to me, isn't that far from the definition of "Zionist".  Part of the definition of Zionism, at least modern Zionism, is support of the state of Israel and its apartheid practices.  It seems as though opposing BDS falls under that column, unless you have a really good explanation for why you don't support the oppression of the Palestinians but actively oppose doing something about it.

It's okay to refer to a liberal as a liberal.  It's okay to refer to a Feminist as a Feminist.  It's okay to refer to a Zionist as a Zionist.  It's not okay to refer to a Palestinian solidarity activist as an anti-semite.


remind
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Joined: Jun 25 2004

SJ, it looked to flakey to be bull... :D

 

Ruminant's poop just isn't that flakey and undigested.


Star Spangled C...
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Joined: Sep 15 2008

Some people use "zionist" as a smear but there's no clear definition of "zionism". Which zionism are people referring to? The secular, socialist zionism of the Israeli founders? THe religious zionism of Rabbi Kook? If someone supports Israel's right to exist, are they, ipso facto, a zionist?


al-Qa'bong
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Joined: Feb 27 2003

Boom Boom wrote:
I love the Elvis Costello show on CTV - he has on the most amazing guests, and he is incredibly talented. I don't have an Elvis Costello album yet - any suggestions? ps: I apologise for the thread drift.

 

 I liked My Aim is True and This Year's Model when they first came out.  I waited in rapt anticipation for Emotional Fascism, but wasn't keen on Armed Forces.  Get Happy! is garbage, and was released at about the same time that McManus made his Ray Charles comments, after which time I quit listening to his music.

 


Timebandit
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Joined: Sep 25 2001

Michelle wrote:

I think it's crossing a line for any babbler to label people who support BDS "anti-semitic", even with weasel words like "perhaps".

There are a lot of babblers who support BDS.  That post is indirectly accusing them of anti-semitism too.

So what?  I've been called an anti-feminist for having somewhat nuanced opinions at least a half dozen times on this board when I certainly felt it wasn't justified, and I don't recall anyone losing their hair over it.  Maybe people should get thicker skins.  In fact, I recall someone being told to do just that in the last couple of days... 


Boom Boom
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Joined: Dec 29 2004
Thanks! Maybe I'll just stick to watching Costello's show on CTV - the only thing on CTV worth watching, besides QP every Sunday.

genstrike
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Joined: May 1 2008

Star Spangled Canadian wrote:

Some people use "zionist" as a smear but there's no clear definition of "zionism". Which zionism are people referring to? The secular, socialist zionism of the Israeli founders? THe religious zionism of Rabbi Kook?

What's "socialist" about colonialism?  What's "secular" about establishing a religious state?

I would say opposing campaigns against Israeli apartheid such as the BDS campaign would qualify

 

Star Spangled Canadian wrote:
If someone supports Israel's right to exist, are they, ipso facto, a zionist?

Depends.  What do they mean by "Israel's right to exist"?  Do they really mean "Israel's right to exist as an apartheid state"?  And do they ask questions and demand others support "Israel's right to exist" while the only nation whose right to exist is seriously threatened and trampled is Palestine?  Do they ask this question only to delegitimize the point of view of those who support a one-state solution?  How is Israel defined - is it the Israeli state in its current configuration?  What about anarchists - is it not logically consistent that those who oppose the existence of all states oppose the existence of the Israeli state?


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