Commentary Magazine


Topic: Elvis Costello

A Response to Elvis Costello

As I noted last week, Elvis Costello, with great fanfare and sanctimony, decided to boycott Israel. A response was penned by Assaf Wohl, for whom I think some sort of award should be named that celebrates those who debunk and undo Israel-bashers. (Alan Dershowitz, Elliott Abrams, and Sen. Joe Lieberman have lifetime-achievement awards and so won’t eligible.) Wohl wrote a “Dear Costello” letter that must be read in full. Here’s a sample:

I attempted to understand the reasons you referred to in your cancellation notice. You addressed the “humiliation of Palestinians civilians in the name of national security,” and I wonder what you meant. Perhaps you’re referring to the roadblocks and fence we built in order to prevent suicide bombers from exploding in our buses and coffee shops. The dramatic decline in Palestinian massacres, from an average of one a day to almost nil may indeed be humiliating for them, as you noted.

Or maybe you referred to Operation Cast Lead. If that’s the case, you are in fact condemning us for deciding to put an end to eight years of rocket attacks targeting our kindergartens. If you think this is demagoguery, please go ahead and check the timers which the “humiliated” terrorists set for the rockets. They were aiming for the hours where our children head to kindergarten and to school.

And on the democracy front Wohl, explained:

You refer to human rights, Costello, while ignoring the fact that Israel is a democracy. You should look into the State of Israel’s attitude to minorities, compared to our neighbors whose side you took. Let’s see how long it will take before you’re decapitated, should you aim to lead a Gay Pride Parade in Gaza or Hebron. Are you aware of the state of Christians in the Gaza Strip, or the state of women’s rights there? Your silence on these matters attests to the honesty of your claims. You should also ask yourself why all these “humiliated” people would love to get an Israeli ID card. If we’re so bad to them, why are they infiltrating Israel in every possible way?

This deliciously exacting letter is precisely what defenders of Israel need to do on a consistent basis. Whether the gibberish is coming from the White House, from J Street, from feeble-minded “artists,” or from the legions of Israel-haters on the left or right (who are sounding remarkably similar — is Andrew Sullivan saying anything that Pat Buchanan doesn’t?), Israel’s defenders need to consistently and robustly respond. The war to delegitimize and slander the Jewish state succeeds when the accusations are not rebutted.

So yasher ko’ah, Assaf Wohl. And I welcome future nominees.

As I noted last week, Elvis Costello, with great fanfare and sanctimony, decided to boycott Israel. A response was penned by Assaf Wohl, for whom I think some sort of award should be named that celebrates those who debunk and undo Israel-bashers. (Alan Dershowitz, Elliott Abrams, and Sen. Joe Lieberman have lifetime-achievement awards and so won’t eligible.) Wohl wrote a “Dear Costello” letter that must be read in full. Here’s a sample:

I attempted to understand the reasons you referred to in your cancellation notice. You addressed the “humiliation of Palestinians civilians in the name of national security,” and I wonder what you meant. Perhaps you’re referring to the roadblocks and fence we built in order to prevent suicide bombers from exploding in our buses and coffee shops. The dramatic decline in Palestinian massacres, from an average of one a day to almost nil may indeed be humiliating for them, as you noted.

Or maybe you referred to Operation Cast Lead. If that’s the case, you are in fact condemning us for deciding to put an end to eight years of rocket attacks targeting our kindergartens. If you think this is demagoguery, please go ahead and check the timers which the “humiliated” terrorists set for the rockets. They were aiming for the hours where our children head to kindergarten and to school.

And on the democracy front Wohl, explained:

You refer to human rights, Costello, while ignoring the fact that Israel is a democracy. You should look into the State of Israel’s attitude to minorities, compared to our neighbors whose side you took. Let’s see how long it will take before you’re decapitated, should you aim to lead a Gay Pride Parade in Gaza or Hebron. Are you aware of the state of Christians in the Gaza Strip, or the state of women’s rights there? Your silence on these matters attests to the honesty of your claims. You should also ask yourself why all these “humiliated” people would love to get an Israeli ID card. If we’re so bad to them, why are they infiltrating Israel in every possible way?

This deliciously exacting letter is precisely what defenders of Israel need to do on a consistent basis. Whether the gibberish is coming from the White House, from J Street, from feeble-minded “artists,” or from the legions of Israel-haters on the left or right (who are sounding remarkably similar — is Andrew Sullivan saying anything that Pat Buchanan doesn’t?), Israel’s defenders need to consistently and robustly respond. The war to delegitimize and slander the Jewish state succeeds when the accusations are not rebutted.

So yasher ko’ah, Assaf Wohl. And I welcome future nominees.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

Here’s one Jewish organization that’s not mute about Obama’s double standard for the Middle East: “The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has urged President Barack Obama to hold Palestinian Authority (PA) president Mahmoud Abbas accountable for a broadcast on PA TV on May 4 and May 7 which called Israelis thieves and advised them to return to Europe & Ethiopia. … Only four days following the second of the two broadcasts of this program by PA TV, President Barack Obama had a telephone conversation with the PA’s Abbas, in which he actually raised the issue of incitement,  but not in reference to this or any other PA act of incitement.”

Here’s one more sign the Democrats are in trouble: “Registered voters who identify themselves as conservatives are significantly more enthusiastic about voting in this fall’s congressional elections than are liberals or moderates. Those who say they are ‘very’ conservative are the most enthusiastic of all, with substantially higher enthusiasm than those who say they are ‘very’ liberal.”

Here’s one deluded liberal: Greg Sargent writes of Richard Blumenthal that “whatever the truth, he insisted with a great deal of conviction that his lapses weren’t intentional. And the evidence so far suggests that in other settings, he didn’t intend to mislead. Perhaps most important, no Dems are cutting and running right now. They seem to have closed ranks behind him. Bottom line: It seems clear he’ll survive. But man, what a colossal train wreck. Don’t do it again, Dick.” So “whatever” the truth, it’s a “train wreck,” but everyone stand by their man!

Here’s one more reason entertainers should just “shut up and sing”: “British singer-songwriter Elvis Costello this week became the latest in a list of stars to cancel performances in Israel as a political protest. … The singer’s withdrawal follows similar moves by other high-profile musicians, including Santana and Gil Scott-Heron.”

Here’s one Democratic incumbent who looks safe: “No major Republican has opted to challenge her, and New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is comfortably ahead of the three lesser-known GOP hopefuls who’ve announced for this year’s special Senate election in New York.”

Here’s one wild goose chase: “White House seeking missing health care bounce.”

Here’s one more poll showing that Elena Kagan’s nomination isn’t a political winner for Obama: “Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan spent the past week introducing herself to the Senate and to the nation, but U.S. voters remain evenly divided over whether she should be confirmed for the high court. A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 39% of voters believe Kagan should be confirmed by the Senate, while another 39% say she should not be confirmed.”

Here’s one Jewish organization that’s not mute about Obama’s double standard for the Middle East: “The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has urged President Barack Obama to hold Palestinian Authority (PA) president Mahmoud Abbas accountable for a broadcast on PA TV on May 4 and May 7 which called Israelis thieves and advised them to return to Europe & Ethiopia. … Only four days following the second of the two broadcasts of this program by PA TV, President Barack Obama had a telephone conversation with the PA’s Abbas, in which he actually raised the issue of incitement,  but not in reference to this or any other PA act of incitement.”

Here’s one more sign the Democrats are in trouble: “Registered voters who identify themselves as conservatives are significantly more enthusiastic about voting in this fall’s congressional elections than are liberals or moderates. Those who say they are ‘very’ conservative are the most enthusiastic of all, with substantially higher enthusiasm than those who say they are ‘very’ liberal.”

Here’s one deluded liberal: Greg Sargent writes of Richard Blumenthal that “whatever the truth, he insisted with a great deal of conviction that his lapses weren’t intentional. And the evidence so far suggests that in other settings, he didn’t intend to mislead. Perhaps most important, no Dems are cutting and running right now. They seem to have closed ranks behind him. Bottom line: It seems clear he’ll survive. But man, what a colossal train wreck. Don’t do it again, Dick.” So “whatever” the truth, it’s a “train wreck,” but everyone stand by their man!

Here’s one more reason entertainers should just “shut up and sing”: “British singer-songwriter Elvis Costello this week became the latest in a list of stars to cancel performances in Israel as a political protest. … The singer’s withdrawal follows similar moves by other high-profile musicians, including Santana and Gil Scott-Heron.”

Here’s one Democratic incumbent who looks safe: “No major Republican has opted to challenge her, and New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is comfortably ahead of the three lesser-known GOP hopefuls who’ve announced for this year’s special Senate election in New York.”

Here’s one wild goose chase: “White House seeking missing health care bounce.”

Here’s one more poll showing that Elena Kagan’s nomination isn’t a political winner for Obama: “Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan spent the past week introducing herself to the Senate and to the nation, but U.S. voters remain evenly divided over whether she should be confirmed for the high court. A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 39% of voters believe Kagan should be confirmed by the Senate, while another 39% say she should not be confirmed.”

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