It is a matter of instinct and conscience.

It Is After Considerable Contemplation….

I have lately arrived at the decision that I must withdraw from the two performances scheduled in Israel on the 30th of June and the 1st of July.

One lives in hope that music is more than mere noise, filling up idle time, whether intending to elate or lament.

Then there are occasions when merely having your name added to a concert schedule may be interpreted as a political act that resonates more than anything that might be sung and it may be assumed that one has no mind for the suffering of the innocent.

I must believe that the audience for the coming concerts would have contained many people who question the policies of their government on settlement and deplore conditions that visit intimidation, humiliation or much worse on Palestinian civilians in the name of national security.

I am also keenly aware of the sensitivity of these themes in the wake of so many despicable acts of violence perpetrated in the name of liberation.

Some will regard all of this an unknowable without personal experience but if these subjects are actually too grave and complex to be addressed in a concert, then it is also quite impossible to simply look the other way.

I offer my sincere apologies for any disappointment to the advance ticket holders as well as to the organizers.

My thanks also go to the members of the Israeli media with whom I had most rewarding and illuminating conversations. They may regard these exchanges as a waste of their time but they were of great value and help to me in gaining an appreciation of the cultural scene.

I hope it is possible to understand that I am not taking this decision lightly or so I may stand beneath any banner, nor is it one in which I imagine myself to possess any unique or eternal truth.

It is a matter of instinct and conscience.

It has been necessary to dial out the falsehoods of propaganda, the double game and hysterical language of politics, the vanity and self-righteousness of public communiqués from cranks in order to eventually sift through my own conflicted thoughts.

I have come to the following conclusions.

One must at least consider any rational argument that comes before the appeal of more desperate means.

Sometimes a silence in music is better than adding to the static and so an end to it.

I cannot imagine receiving another invitation to perform in Israel, which is a matter of regret but I can imagine a better time when I would not be writing this.

With the hope for peace and understanding.

– Elvis Costello


Email to his Rep: <gilmour@mfmgt.com>


  1. Debbie on the 19. May, 2010 remarked #

    Elvis Costello a better man than Atwood or Ghosh.

    This should be published in conjunction with every piece concerning Atwood and Ghosh’s capitulation to the acceptance of the loot and their lame excuses given.

    It should also be preserved and sent to any future artists who intend to perform or accept gifts and prizes in Israel.

    Boycott is boycott. Justice is Justice. You cannot be half pregnant.

    We can dismiss Atwood and Ghosh, along with a great many others, and ignore them,
    if not forget them and what they have done or failed to do.

    Posted below are some heartfelt emails of gratitude sent to Mr. Costello.


    Dear Mr. Costello:

    Thank you for your brave, unselfish, and principled
    decision to withdraw from your scheduled performances in Israel.
    The plight of the Palestinians and the role of Israel in the world is perhaps
    the critical issue of our time, and your actions have contributed forcefully
    to our chances for a better world.

    In the future I will take every opportunity to support your work.

    Yours, with admiration,
    Marvin Ortel

    Mr. Costello, I can do little more than add my own “Thank you” to Professor Ortel’s concise, excellent words. I’ve pasted below the text of your decision so that I can keep this mail in my record file. I’m a stickler for proper English, and I offer special kudos not only for the heartfelt contents of your message but for the perfection of its presentation!

    With best regards and respect, Bob Stiver, Pearl City, Hawaii

    Mr. Costello:

    Let me add my voice of tremendous appreciation for your highly principled and courageous decision. There are not all that many times in a career that one has to make a decision of this historical magnitude, and this has been one of them in yours.

    I will be eternally thankful that the decision you reached, instinctual as you explained to us it was, shows that your sensitivity as an artist is grounded in morality and justice. Although this decision may very well be costly to you in some ways, I think that when History records your legacy, your action here will always be mentioned prominently, and give cause for you to have the satisfaction of knowing that when History challenged you, your heart led you to do what’s right and just.

    Thank you,

    R Zwarich

    Please convey my sincere appreciation to Elvis Costello for following the dictates of his conscience and canceling his appearance in Israel which I realize was a difficult decision. It is good to see that the blood of Irish patriots still flows in his veins.

    I had the pleasure of meeting one of those patriots, the late Seamus Costello in Northern Ireland in 1970 on the eve of my first trip to the Middle East. While he may not be related to Seamus, it is good to see Elvis bringing new honor to the Costello name.


    Jeffrey Blankfort
    Ukiah, California

    Dearest Elvis,

    I am a USA citizen journalist [unpaid reporter] who has been to Israel Palestine 7 times since 2005.

    I LOVE you beyond your music now because I know you are a stand up guy!

    I X-posted your contemplation here:

    May 10, 2010: Back to BDS and Hey Elton! GREAT NEWS UPDATE From ELVIS LEADS: May 17, 2010 Read more…

    With overflowing gratitude,

    Only in Solidarity do “we have it in our power to begin the world again.”-Tom Paine

    Eileen Fleming,
    Founder of WeAreWideAwake.org
    A Feature Correspondent for Arabisto.com
    Author of “Keep Hope Alive” and “Memoirs of a Nice Irish American ‘Girl’s’ Life in Occupied Territory”
    Producer “30 Minutes with Vanunu” and “13 Minutes with Vanunu”

  2. Dan on the 19. May, 2010 remarked #

    In the United States, it is against the law to refuse to do business on the basis of race, creed, sex, or national origin. We consider this to be discrimination and expressly prohibited under US Law. Please be aware that participating in the Arab boycott violates the USA Laws including the 1977 amendments to the Export Administration Act (EAA) and the Ribicoff Amendment to the 1976 Tax Reform Act (TRA). These laws cover any entity seeking to do business in the United States. Participants in the Boycott, upon seeking to do business in the United States (in this case concerts in the USA the selling of music products and periphenalia) are subject to both civil and criminal penalties. The penalties imposed for each “knowing” violation can be a fine of up to $50,000 or five times the value of the exports involved, whichever is greater, and imprisonment of up to five years. During periods when the EAR are continued in effect by an Executive Order issued pursuant to the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, the criminal penalties for each “willful” violation can be a fine of up to $50,000 and imprisonment for up to ten years.

  3. RIck on the 19. May, 2010 remarked #


    Elvis is a British citizen. I don’t think he cares one bit about any American law. If America cared about American law, it would abide by the law that says it is illegal to provide financial aid to a nation that has not signed the Non-nuclear Proliferation Treaty. Iran is a signatory to that treaty, however, Israel is not. They have one of the top nuclear armament programs in the world, yet the US gives $3 billion in U.S. tax dollars to Israel. You cannot pick and choose your laws. America is violating it’s own in aiding and abetting this apartheid.

  4. pj on the 19. May, 2010 remarked #

    We boycotted South Africa.

  5. A. Magnus on the 19. May, 2010 remarked #

    According to the 1976 Symington Amendment to the Foreign Relations Act, it is illegal to give military aid to any nation which is a nuclear power and also a non-signatory to the NPT. Therefore every shipment of military aid to Israel is a violation of U.S. law. Put that in your pipe and smoke it, Danny boy!

  6. Doug on the 19. May, 2010 remarked #

    Why is it legal to boycott Arizona for their stance in enforcing US immigration laws, but it is illegal to boycott Israel for their continual violation of international laws?

    It seems like the world has turned upside-down and inside-out. Up is down, left is right, and sideways is straight ahead.

  7. Oliver Suojanen on the 19. May, 2010 remarked #

    Santana also cancelled!

  8. Earlaiman on the 20. May, 2010 remarked #

    This was a brave act on the part of Elvis Costello. He has stood up for Justice on a day when tall popies aree being whacked down by the dozens.

    It was also a controversial decision, as evidenced by all of the commentary, positive and negative, and the ratiocination of Ms Atwood and Mr. Ghosh,

    But, in matters of conscience and Justice, it is quite plainand simple, black and white.

    You cannot be half-pregnant, almost a virgin, or partially dead.

    Justice is like Truth and Beauty… we may not be able to describe of define it very clearly, but most of us recognize it when we see it.

    Elvis Costello not only has guts and spine when it matters, he has a clear vision on what is right and what is not right… Justice.

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