Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Time for Justice: Springsteen, Palestine, and the Boycott

Four months into 2012, and Bruce Springsteen has not booked a gig in Israel.  Last November, it appeared that negotiations with the legendary Boss were pretty much firmed up.  The Israeli press declared "Now its the Boss:  Bruce Springsteen lines up a concert in Israel," and "Bruce Springsteen to give concert in Tel Aviv" with confident conviction.  Plans were in the making for a June gig in Israel.  

Or were they?  In late November, an OPEN LETTER appeared written by David Brinn, stating that "Israel is the Bruce Springsteen of the Middle East – living every day to its fullest and always striving for a better future."  The letter boasted that Madonna and Elton John had previously played in Israel.  It urged Springsteen to schedule his gig. 

Three months later, in mid February, Israeli television reported that Coldplay, U2, Clapton, and Bruce Springsteen all just declined to play in Israel.  All four bands were labelled as refusenik[Sarvanim in Hebrew].  View the video linked to at about 1:50+ (in Hebrew)

Bruce Springsteen tours the UK this summer, playing a total of four shows on a short tour. The dates begin at Sunderland Stadium of Light on June 21 before moving on to Manchester Etihad Stadium (22), Isle Of Wight Festival (24) and London Hard Rock Calling (July 14).  

Perhaps it is too early to declare Springsteen's reported refusal to play Israel a victory for justice.  After all, he has made no direct public statement in support of the boycott of Israel and maybe he still pans to book a gig.  On the other hand, his refusal will have a deep reaching impact on the privileged society in Israel that searches for signs of acceptance through megastars like the Boss.  Artists are paid up to one million dollars for just one single performance.  The pressure to play Israel is immense.  The courage it takes to refuse is exceptional.  

Thus far, Springsteen appears to not only possess a strong conscience, but he appears to support equal rights and justice, the main goals of the BDS movement.