With the international community failing to take action to stop Israeli oppression of the Palestinian people, and inspired by the international boycott movement that helped bring an end to apartheid in South Africa, Palestinian civil society has launched calls for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel, including an institutional academic and cultural boycott. Ninety-three artists, writers and other cultural workers have signed onto the Palestinian cultural boycott call. Palestinian boycott calls have inspired a growing international boycott movement which gained added momentum following Israel’s assault on Gaza last winter.An artist has to make a living, it is true. However, it seems that prominent artists (such as Ken Loach) and intellectuals (such as Naomi Klein) are lending their weight to the BDS campaign which is hoping to end the injustice occurring in Palestine due to the Israeli occupation. Our governments and mass media totally whitewash the situation in the region, and actively support the occupation with their silence in the face of human rights abuse, with their foreign aid, and with their support of all Israeli actions regarding Palestine, no matter the methods or the consequences.
Amnesty International has now withdrawn from a "Cohen concert initiative" which was to see some of the funds of the Israeli concert go to groups working towards peace in the area. Palestinian groups were supposedly represented, but according to the article linked to, were not. The Palestinian-Israeli group, Combatants for Peace, who were to be one of the beneficiaries decided to not participate in the initiative as they felt the action of boycott sent a stronger message.
Considering that Amnesty and any NPO is always hard-up for cash, the stand taken is not only quite admirable, but also indicative of the strength the BDS campaign is gaining. September is just around the corner. I guess Cohen's concert is going ahead. I think the right call to make at the moment is to boycott, but I also think that art and music can generally do much to remind us of peace. However, Cohen's songs are not going to bring about the end of the occupation or brutality, but a boycott would bring the issue to light in many (but definitely not enough) quarters.