Several members of my family saw him perform last week and from the youngest, 26, to the oldest, 58, they were all speechless by his performance. And this is a very eloquent group!
Now I hear he has accepted a gig in Israel. Cohen is too politically astute, I would like to think, to make this a political statement, but no matter what such an international figure does, much will be read into it. A the actions of man of his stature have cachet. This following letter addresses the issue well although there is more to be said.
Any intelligent person who can read, cannot help but know the truth about the situation over in that sorry part of the world. At this time, millions of children are starving to death in crowded tents while food rots outside the borders because there is honey included in the shipment. Children who once lived in lovely homes with whole families.
Once a shipment were forbidden was because of strawberry jam being included. Another time it was because of pasta sauce. Even toothpaste and toilet paper have been left to rot, not deemed "an essential" for life. Meanwhile the ill are not allowed to have the essentials needed to live!
According to today's Ha'aretz, during the 1973 Yom Kipur War,Cohen flew to Israel to perform before reserves and regular soldiers fighting in the Sinai desert.
After all is said and done, I personally find it unconscionable to think one of my heroes would consider going against the cultural boycott of Israel. Yes, Cohen was raised as a Montreal Jew but being Jewish has never seemed to be important to him. He openly embraced Buddhism.
This following letter is from BRICUP the British Committee of Universities for Palestine.
BRICUP has issued a call to Leonard Cohen to cancel his proposed visit to Israel to perform at a concert on 24 September.
They are calling on all supporters to read our open letter to Leonard Cohen and send messages to him via his manager, Robert Kory, asking him to abandon this trip. I consider since we are all working on a boycott one way or another for Israel, we make a concerted effort of this. As a result I am going to post this to as many of you as possible so that we can make a bit of a movement of this matter!
British Committee for the Universities of Palestine,
22 April 2009
British Committee for the Universities of Palestine
to Canadian musician Leonard Cohen:
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 neighbor as thyself," is probably honored 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, filmmakers 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?
Professor Haim Bresheeth
Professor Hilary Rose
Professor Jonathan Rosenhead
WRITE TO COHEN'S MANAGER AND MAKE YOURSELF HEARD. IF NECESSARY MAKE A POLITICAL STATEMENT THAT YOU CAN CARRY OUT AND LIVE WITH. NEVER BUY HIS WORK AGAIN WOULD BE A GOOD START BECAUSE THIS IS A MONEY TOUR SINCE LEONARD LOST ALL HIS SAVINGS DUE TO AN UNSCRUPULOUS MANAGER.