Where was Elvis before?
Oliver’s Army won’t be marching to Tel Aviv this summer.
That’s because pop star Elvis Costello, who composed that signature song, recently announced he is cancelling his planned concerts in Israel to protest the Jewish state’s settlement policy and the “intimidation, humiliation or much worse on Palestinian civilians in the name of national security.”
Clearly, Costello’s announcement was a victory for the forces that advocate a cultural boycott of Israel.
While we disagree with Costello’s decision, we’re not angry with the performer. Despite the above words, the rest of his statement makes it clear he wrestled with this choice.
Though his aim is true, as the song goes, he chose incorrectly.
Clearly, Palestinians are suffering in their current predicament. The security barriers that divide Israel from the Gaza Strip and West Bank (Judea Samaria to many Jews) has brought on much of that suffering. No one can deny it.
But for Costello to base his decision, in part at least, “on intimidation, humiliation or much worse on Palestinian civilians in the name of national security,” suggests that only one group — the Palestinians — has suffered.
We know better.
We know that before the barriers went up, Palestinian bombers attacked Israeli (and American) civilians, murdering hundreds, and maiming hundreds more.
The sad truth is there were few, if any, calls for cultural boycotts of Palestinian interests then.
We wish we had heard cries of indignation from Costello, and other artists following the 2001 attack on the Sbarro pizza shop, the 2002 Seder Massacre and the many attacks on Israel’s yeshivas, bus stops, market places, clubs, shopping malls and a host of other places where Israeli men, women and children were blown to pieces by Palestinian
But there were no such statements and no calls for boycotts. It’s a shame.
According to the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, there were 140 suicide attacks on the country between 2000 and 2007, killing more than 540 individuals.
Elvis apparently left the building during that time.
It’s hard to imagine any one liking a security barrier, or wishing hardship on Palestinian civilians, but protecting Israeli civilians in the name of national security is legitimate. All countries protect their people, even if it means someone else suffers.
There’s a way out of this situation: Palestinians can renounce all violence, recognize Israel as a Jewish state and negotiate without preconditions.
Until then, Oliver’s Army will just have to stay in its barracks.