Elvis Costello cancels two concerts in Israel

Musician Elvis Costello has announced that he will not perform in Israel during his next tour.

Costello, who is married to Nanaimo native Diana Krall, issued a statement on his Web site saying that he decided to cancel two shows scheduled for June 30 and July 1 because of the political situation in the Middle Eastern country.

He noted that audiences for the two shows would have included "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," Costello added.

His full statement appears below:

It is after considerable contemplation that I have lately arrived at the decision that I must withdraw from the two performances scheduled in Israel on the 30th of June and the 1st of July.

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.

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.

Some will regard all of this an unknowable without personal experience but if these subjects are actually too grave and complex to be addressed in a concert, then it is also quite impossible to simply look the other way.

I offer my sincere apologies for any disappointment to the advance ticket holders as well as to the organizers.

My thanks also go to the members of the Israeli media with whom I had most rewarding and illuminating conversations. They may regard these exchanges as a waste of their time but they were of great value and help to me in gaining an appreciation of the cultural scene.

I hope it is possible to understand that I am not taking this decision lightly or so I may stand beneath any banner, nor is it one in which I imagine myself to possess any unique or eternal truth.

It is a matter of instinct and conscience.

It has been necessary to dial out the falsehoods of propaganda, the double game and hysterical language of politics, the vanity and self-righteousness of public communiqués from cranks in order to eventually sift through my own conflicted thoughts.

I have come to the following conclusions.

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

Sometimes a silence in music is better than adding to the static and so an end to it.

I cannot imagine receiving another invitation to perform in Israel, which is a matter of regret but I can imagine a better time when I would not be writing this.

With the hope for peace and understanding.

Elvis Costello

Follow Charlie Smith on Twitter at twitter.com/csmithstraight.



blue note

May 17, 2010 at 9:35pm

I am deeply saddened by his decision. If "there are occasions when merely having your name added to a concert schedule may be interpreted as a political act", then cancelling performances you agreed to before the acts were publicized and there were no "interpretations", can only be seen as a cowardly political act brought on by political coercion and the propaganda he labels "falsehoods". Since he is turning his back on Israel and the Jews, possibly the most persecuted people on this planet, can we assume that he has succumbed to Palestinian propaganda? I hear it's all the fashionable rage among his contemporaries!

Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East. It is only in Israel that any political comments on his behalf would not be met with potential death threats and rioting and the "hysterical language of politics" so often found in the Islamic world. You would think that he might have respected this and voiced his performances as just that, a musical performance that has no political bearing.

Does he not realize there are countries in the Islamic world where his music would not be welcome, where his words would be censored? Should we now interpret his willingness to play in Islamic countries as being pro-Islamic? How can this decision to perform in Islamic countries, but not Israel, not be interpreted as a political act?

Early in his career, Mr. Costello, or the King of America, as he "vainly" likes to call himself, was labeled a misogynist. As the Islamic world harshly denies half its population even the most basic human rights and dignities, can we infer in his preference not to play in Israel, an agreement with the misogynistic horrors of Islam? We are talking about upwards of a half a billion women! Do those half a billion women mean less than three million Palestinians? Surely they suffer more by their sheer numbers, if not deplorable conditions?

In all of the Islamic world, there are maybe two countries that even make the list of "free" countries. And even these countries punish "subjective" immoral acts such as drinking alcohol, premarital sex or an adulterous affair with severe corporal punishment, incarceration and sometimes death, most usually aimed at women, and wholly in deference to religious dictates. But Elvis Costello says he is an atheist? When he plays in Turkey, does he play "Dust"?

Mr. Costello constantly speaks with contempt for conservative American leaders. During Bush's term he lambasted the president as a war monger every chance he got, and yet, he cozies up to Obama, who has only escalated the war in Afghanistan which has resulted in a skyrocketing of casualties on both sides and a further escalation of terrorist attacks and attempted attacks on Western nations. Perhaps, with Iran now having nuclear weapons, Mr. Costello feared that the annihilation of Israel, so often promised by the Muslim world, might take place? Or is Mr. Costello the "fashionable" kind, blowing in the wind to the dictates of what is cool? War is not good under Bush, but it's "cool" under Obama!

Mr. Costello has also spent much of his professional life backpedalling racist remarks he made of contemporaries by declaring that he was drunk at the time. Should we add to his many hatreds now, that of the Jewish people? Is not his refusal to comply with a promise, a sign of anti-semitism of the Jewish variety?

At the crossroads of his life, Elvis Costello is a confused, scared little coward who would betray his heritage in a heartbeat rather than honor a commitment? Given his track record in marriage, yes, perhaps this is the case? Perhaps he's not so much a coward as a betrayer! One thing for sure, in my book, he definitely knows how to be dumb.


May 17, 2010 at 9:56pm

What an ignorant dip!

Why do these show biz no-minds so consistently take the hard left viewpoint? Maybe those frames keep Elvis from seeing the tactics used by Hamas and other Palestinian gunslingin' cowards... using ambulances to transport troops while the wounded lie dying, setting up ammo dumps and rocket launchers in schoolyards and hospitals... hiding behind women and children... and lots more. They know knowing dingbat duprs like Elvis will blame any "civilian casualties" on Israel.

What an icehole.
Sleep comes like a drug in God's country


May 18, 2010 at 12:22am

I just heard that Elvis Costello cenacle his concert in Israel, this June.
What can we say on someone that does not have a clue about the conflict between us and the Muslim? That he is ignorant or narrow-minded person. We will not say it because, we know that being juts a 3rd to Elvis Parsley – the king, he decided not to be in one most bountiful places on this plant, for any visitor, and for a performer, even for an insignificant one like Elvis Costello. God bless the land of the Jewish = Israel.


May 18, 2010 at 2:17am

Well that surely is not going to bring about com munication, love or peace. In fact it may well fuel more hatred and anger.
And hey Castello if your not politically motivated, are you also going to stand up for the young Israel soldier Gilad Shalit, who had just been enlisted and then thrown into a hole in the ground when captured , without the Red Cross being able to visit him in 3 years. Will you sing a song for Gilad Shalit? do you know about Gilad Shalit at all?


May 18, 2010 at 5:03am

It is funny that Mr. Costello takes side without even questioning himself if his action is to bring peace supporters to justify him or whether is action just motivates the terror.

As someone who was always a left wing person I ask myself if I want sallow people like Mr. Costello on our side.
Being a left wing person is hard enough knowing that the Palestinians do not want only the occupied territories but the whole country. (and declare it quite openly)
Now do I want people like Costello telling me that it's either looking for way to live with the Palestinians or hosting him, I can tell Costello to look into himself and if playing in the US means that he support and the US government actions automatically?

English is not my mother's tongue but, sadly, as Costello fan, I think the right word to describe his recent action is "Hypocrisy"

Rocket Man

May 18, 2010 at 5:15am

The world going in Israel that the tickets sale wasn't that good at all and that's the real reason for the cancellation.
This conflict exists for last 60 years, why to book there in first place? Suddenly mr. Costello discovered it?

michael wilson

May 18, 2010 at 5:30am

washed has been who has no difficulty in making a "very political" statement by choosing to boycott what would otherwise be a very apolitical concert. Congratulations on picking sides Mr. Costello.
Hope you enjoy your new found freedom in making vague political gestures in a futile attempt to remain on the public stage.

Rucka Ali

May 18, 2010 at 8:19am

So he basically had these two tour spots picked out, and he waited until a month before to cancel them? Wow, for once a singer cancelled a tour visit in Israel because of the Palestinians being victims, wasn't there a cancelled tour last year because of rocket attacks from Gaza? Clearly different reasoning than Costello.

On a superficial side note, why wouldn't he choose to perform in Canada on, oh I don't know, the 1st of July? That'd be a quick and easy sell.


May 18, 2010 at 10:51am

Come on, everybody - save the finger-work and just cut to your chase: Costello is a terrorist who hates women, democracy, freedom, and God. And probably fluffy kittens.


May 18, 2010 at 12:50pm

Good on Elvis for having the courage to stand up to the most powerful media campaign of lies, slander and hatred that he must have surely known he will now get from the people who DARE to think they speak for Jews. Real Jews understand that the saying "Never again" applies to everyone.