Qaddura Fares: No decision yet on Leonard Cohen in Ramallah

Qaddura Fares, head of the Palestinian Prisoner’s Club, and “Young Guard” Fateh leader, said this morning in a brief phone conversation that there is no decision yet on the Leonard Cohen concert in Ramallah.

“We decided [that there would be] at least a freeze on this issue. We will wait until after the Fateh conference”, Fares said.

This means that the issue got too big and too hot to tackle at the moment.

The long-delayed and much-anticipated Fateh conference is now scheduled for 4 August in Bethlehem.

The Leonard Cohen concert in Tel Aviv — which is the problem from the point of view of those supporting a boycott — is scheduled for 24 September in the 50,000-seat Ramat Gan stadium. Israel’s Discount bank is one of its sponsors. The added-on-as-an-afterthought Leonard Cohen concert in Ramallah was booked for 26 September in Ramallah’s 1000-seat Cultural Palace, next to Mahmoud Darwish’s tomb.

Our earlier posts on Leonard Cohen in Ramallah are here and here.

A later report by Media Line had the headline “Leonard Cohen’s Ramallah Gig Called Off After Boycott” – but it may be premature, and in any case it is not supported by the remarks from Qaddura Fares that were quoted in the piece: “We can organize the event—it’s not difficult or impossible—but we prefer not to have these hard discussions … We need people like Leonard Cohen to share his support for the Palestinians and it means a lot, but the boycott [campaign] thinks that it’s like the experience in South Africa – that anyone that wants to support the Palestinian struggle for freedom should only visit Palestine and not Israel.” Media Line also reported that “Fares said he wanted to maintain the organization’s reputation as a non-political entity. ‘We’re a sensitive group and we work with all the Palestinians’, he said. ‘We’re not a political organization and we to continue our help to the prisoners without interference of political issues. The administration in the Palestinian Prisoners’ Club decided to freeze this event. They will have discussions but for the time being it’s been frozen’ … It was agreed that the concert would be dedicated to the prisoners, Fares said”. This report can be read in full here

Meanwhile, Israeli Palestinian-Arab politician and Knesset Member Ahmad Tibi has reportedly joined the call to — well, if not boycott Cellcom — at least to pull the commercial using The Wall as a prop. The Cellcom commercial also uses as actors the invisible and warehoused [as in Jeff Halper’s great analysis here ] Palestinians, and nice-guy Israeli soldiers and Border Police-persons [n.b., the women are only cheerleaders, however] as actors.

However, the presumed Palestinians are so invisible that one Facebook mini-group (“Anti Cellcom Ad – IDF playing soccer over wall with settler children”) has been organized around the hilarious but actually-not-so-amusing proposition that the “Cellcom Ad depicts IDF soldiers making fun and playing soccer (football) with right wing religious zionist settler children! (being sealed behind large walls) – how can such a large company sponser such a radical left wing portion of the Israeli population, behaving racist against settlers and their children – see the video at http://www.youtube.com/v/210H8wavqbc”

Our earlier post suggesting a boycott of Cellcom rather than of Leonard Cohen here.

Reuters, in a report that took five people to put together, included this comment from The Israeli Cellcomcompany which is reportedly Israel’s largest mobile phone provider:
“Asked to comment, Cellcom said its ‘core value is communication between people’ regardless of ‘religion, race or gender’. It said the commercial illustrated the possibility for people of diverse opinions to engage in ‘mutual entertainment’. A spokeswoman said it was a coincidence the ad came out so close to last Thursday’s anniversary of the 2004 decision by the World Court that Israel had no right to build hundreds of miles of walls and fences on Palestinian land it took in a 1967 war”. The Reuters report can be read in full here.

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