Leonard Cohen Seeks Reconciliation At Apartheid Bank Discount

In addition to sponsoring Leonard Cohen’s ‘Concert for Reconciliation, Tolerance and Peace’ in Tel-Aviv this Thursday, Israel Discount Bank (’Bank Discount’) also financed the construction of building projects in the settlements of Har Homa, Beitar Illit and Ma’ale Adumim.   Several of their branches are located in Jewish-only settlements of Beitar Illit, and Ma’ale Adumim in the West Bank, occupied Palestinian territory, as is their trading room in Modi’in Illit.

Mr. Cohen has made great efforts to protect his brand as a ‘righteous humanist,’  by declaring not to take money out of Israel, after the recent War Crimes in Gaza, and by attempting to create a concert laundering fund with Amnesty International.  This fund was quickly abandoned after several human rights organizations clarified the context of the project through an open letter, but Cohen plans to forge ahead with the concert and its contradictory calls for Peace and Tolerance.

2009 has been a difficult year in public relations for Israel (See ‘Toronto Declaration‘ and Goldstone Report), but one trend that has helped normalize the apartheid state are appearances by big artists like Madonna, Faith No More, Depeche Mode and now Leonard Cohen, who are willing to partake in the leisurely affluence of the Colonial regime, without dealing with the realities of its oppression of the Palestinian people under the Zionist program.

Despite comprehensive requests to cancel the whitewashing concert, from international and Israeli activists and the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI.org), Leonard Cohen, through his management, insist on their ‘right to perform’, while having little to say about the rights of the Palestinians.   Quoted in the Jerusalem Post, Cohen’s manager Robert Kory discusses the cultural boycott: “When I talk to people calling for Leonard to boycott Israel, I ask them: ‘Why can’t people have different approaches? Can’t we respect each other and have a different way of addressing a common problem?’

Failing to realize that specifically Palestinian people are addressing their acute problem of Israeli Apartheid through internationally supported non-violent means such as the Cultural Boycott, Leonard Cohen and his management/publicity team have engaged in Cultural Imperialism: From the freeways of LA and the PR offices of New York City, the dispossession, siege, and persecution of the Palestinian people is thought best handled by working with a company like Israel Discount Bank…

“Bank Discount is paying a lot of money to get exposure and a positive association among its target audience – the older, more affluent class who are investing money and opening accounts. That’s opposed to a show that would appeal to a younger audience that it wouldn’t sponsor.”  Israeli promoter Hillel Wachs on Leonard Cohen

…to sell 47,000 tickets at over $90 per-seat, and keep the capital in the hands of those who claim to know what’s best for the Palestinians.

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