The international movement to boycott, divest and sanction (BDS) — which evokes the sexual practices known as bondage and discipline — have concentrated their efforts in laser-like fashion on Leonard Cohen, the bard of Montreal who quickly sold out 47,000 tickets for his Sept. 24 Tel Aviv concert.
Blogs and social networking sites have been campaigning to deter Cohen from playing Israel, while other top-rank artists perform in the Jewish state with nary a whimper from the activists. Apparently, the BDS activists think of Leonard Cohen as someone attuned to their cause.
- Leonard Cohen (WireImage.com)
In Canada’s National Post newspaper this week, Chris Selley writes in astonished tones that theÂ Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) has derided Leonard Cohen as an “enemy of human rights, obstacle to peace, reminder of suffering. I consider myself pretty jaded, but these are astonishing smears. Cohen is a 74-year-old mensch of the first order, and author of some of the most universally appealing, enduring and, it must be said, all-but-completely apolitical popular songs ever written.”
On the special treatment accorded Cohen by the BDS movement, Selley notes:
It’s interesting to compare Cohen’s upcoming trip to the Holy Land to the one Madonna recently undertook. Madge’s latest world tour, which wrapped up last week in Tel Aviv, was called “Sticky and Sweet.” All evidence suggests the proceeds went toward expanding her inestimable fortune. Cohen’s upcoming gig is entitled “A Concert for Reconciliation, Tolerance and Peace.” Proceeds will go to a fund of the same name, established by Cohen, whose mission is “to provide financial support for organizations and individuals working to achieve reconciliation, tolerance and peace between Israelis and Palestinians and thereby advance the recognition and full expression of human rights in this region.” Among the beneficiaries will be The Parents Circle — Families Forum, which unites bereaved Palestinian and Israeli parents, and generally promotes peace by arranging positive encounters between people who might otherwise have considered each other enemies.
The BDS activists have succeeded in convincing Amnesty International to withdraw its participation from Cohen’s benefit concert. While PACBI takes credit for Amnesty’s decision,Â Â Curt Goering, Amnesty International USA’s deputy executive director, told The Jerusalem Post that “it wasn’t this that has led us to change our approach to this issue. Amnesty doesn’t take a position on cultural or other boycotts; we do advocate sanctions in certain circumstances — we did call earlier this year for an arms embargo on both Israel and Palestine, but we don’t take a position on any cultural boycott… It was only following the lack of support from Israeli and Palestinian NGOs that we decided not to continue our support.”
In any case, Leonard Cohen will play to a packed Ramat Gan Stadium, and varied groups will continue their work for Israeli-Palestinian reconciliation — or not. — Mordecai Specktor