Leonard Cohen Performs Sold Out Concert in Israel Despite Boycott
Canadian singer and poet Leonard Cohen performed to a sold out crowd in Israel Thursday night, despite many calls to cancel his show by Palestinian rights activists.
It was 75-year-old Cohen's first Israeli show in 30 years, and the concert reportedly sold out within 12 hours, although some tickets sold for more than $250.
Leonard Cohen Show to Benefit Israeli and Palestinian Children's Charities
The show was billed as a "concert for reconciliation, tolerance and peace." Proceeds, which may reach $2 million, will go to Israeli and Palestinian charities, many of which benefit children.
Amnesty International had agreed to help distribute funds raised from the concert to local charities, but later pulled its support.
In a statement, the rights group said it's "impressed by Leonard Cohen's commitment to use his talent to benefit directly those working for human rights and continues to hope that this wish will be realized. Amnesty International has taken no position on boycotts anywhere in the world," the statement continued.
Cohen offered to do a second show in the Ramallah, but it was scrapped when some Palestinians complained because the concert was being sponsored by Discount Bank, directly linked to Jewish settlements in the West Bank.
Critics of the Cohen boycott point out that Madonna, Lady Gaga and the Pet Shop Boys, all of whom recently put on for-profit concerts in Israel, faced almost no opposition to their performances, despite Madonna wrapping herself in an Israeli flag at the conclusion of her concert earlier this month.
Leonard Cohen was an easy target and fell right into the trap," Dr Gerald Steinberg, chairman of NGO Monitor and head of the Political Science Department at Bar Ilan University told The Media Line. "These organizations, like other political organizations, pick their targets based on which will get their cause the best publicity. Leonard Cohen opened the door by having the pretense of trying to link a music concert with grand political gestures. When he brought in the organizations he brought in the boycott movement."
Cohen was born in Montreal, Quebec to Jewish parents, but now practices Buddhism.
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Tel Aviv-Yafo, Israel