PALESTINIAN CAMPAIGN FOR THE ACADEMIC AND CULTURAL BOYCOTT OF ISRAEL (PACBI) & NEW YORK CAMPAIGN FOR THE BOYCOTT OF ISRAEL (NYCBI)
New York, NY – Amnesty International has announced today that it will abstain from any involvement in the Leonard Cohen concert in Tel Aviv and will not be party to any fund that benefits from the concert's proceeds. A number of media accounts had reported that Amnesty International was to manage or otherwise partner in a fund created from the proceeds of Cohen’s concert in Israel that would be used to benefit Israeli and Palestinian groups. Amnesty International’s announcement today followed an international outcry over the human rights organization’s reported involvement in the Leonard Cohen concert fund, and an earlier international call for Cohen to boycott apartheid Israel.
We, members of the Bil'in popular committee against the wall and settlements, have always appreciated Amnesty International’s role in the defense of human rights around the world and have recognized you as partners in our own struggle to defend our rights. We remember with great pleasure and pride your December, 2006 visit to our village to witness one of our protests. For these reasons we were surprised and deeply disturbed to learn that Amnesty International is sponsoring Leonard Cohen’s upcoming concert in Israel.
The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) and groups around the world have been calling for months for musician Leonard Cohen to cancel his planned September concert in Israel. 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 academic and cultural boycott of Israel. Ninety-three artists, writers and other cultural workers have signed onto the Palestinian cultural boycott call. Many dignitaries signed the "No Reason to Celebrate" pledge and refused to participate in any artistic or literary event during Israel's year-long 60th anniversary celebrations.
In May, the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) called on singer/songwriter Leonard Cohen to heed the Palestinian call for a cultural boycott of Israel and avoid complicity with Israel’s violations of international law by cancelling his planned September concert in Israel, particularly in view of Israel’s war crimes in Gaza earlier this year. Sadly, according to a July 28 article in the Jerusalem Post, Amnesty International USA has agreed to cooperate with Cohen in dealing with Israel on the basis of business as usual. Amnesty International USA will serve as sponsor of a new fund that will whitewash the money raised at Cohen’s concert in Israel by using it to finance programs for “peace.” Being one of the world’s strongest proponents of human rights and international law, you shall thus be subverting a non-violent, effective effort by Palestinian and international civil society to end Israel's violations of international law and human rights principles. We call on you to be true to your values and immediately withdraw support for Leonard Cohen’s ill-conceived concert in Israel.
Leonard Cohen's New York concert featured one new element that reportedly had Cohen’s handlers on edge: a group of about three dozen pro-Palestinian protesters standing across the street from the theater entrance, calling on the singer to cancel a concert in Israel that is expected to take place in September.
New York, NY - New York activists gathered in front of Radio City Music Hall Sunday night during a Leonard Cohen concert to call upon the singer/songwriter to cancel his scheduled September concert in Israel. The protesters sang songs, chanted, handed out leaflets to concert attendees and produced sidewalk art. The call comes in support of earlier calls by Jews, Palestinians, Israeli citizens and residents of the UK, and coincides with the publication of an open letter by the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) calling for protests throughout the cities Cohen is touring.
“With the construction of the Apartheid Wall and Israeli settlements on Palestinian lands, and on the heels of the brutal Israeli attack on Gaza that killed over 1,400 Palestinians and injured 5,000 more, the Palestinian Catastrophe continues and we demand that artists start taking a courageous and principled stand by refusing to entertain occupiers and oppressors,” said Riham Barghouti, Palestinian-American activist with Adalah-NY. This week Palestinians around the world commemorate the 61st Anniversary of the Nakba of 1948, when Israeli forces expelled 800,000 Palestinians and destroyed 531 villages.