The rumors have been running rampant ever since the biggest daily newspaper in Israel, Yediot Aharonot, irresponsibly published an article with the headline “Springsteen on the way to Israel.”
Of course, anyone who then read the story learned that, while indeed promoter Shuki Weiss made an offer to you to perform here next summer, “it’s too early to announce any good news.”
So much for accuracy in headlines.
On the other hand, the same week the story appeared, your own website announced that you would be taking the E Street Band out on a European tour in the spring and summer, the first since your longtime sax man and sidekick Clarence Clemons passed away.
Those two items – put together – might seem like it’s a reasonable possibility that therefore, you’ll be making your Israel debut in 2012, 39 years after the release of your debut album. However, your past half-dozen or so tours of Europe since you reunited with the E Street Band in the late 1990s have all bypassed Israel, even though we know offers were made to have you perform here.
So, here we are again. On your website, confirmed dates are beginning to appear – a few in Italy and a few in England, solid and predictable destinations that you return to each time you reach the continent. In all likelihood, the dates will fill up once again, with Stockholm, Lisbon, and Barcelona on the docket, but Tel Aviv left by the wayside.
I know that deciding to perform in Israel includes considerable extra baggage than doing a show in, say, Copenhagen. Someone of your stature will not be able to avoid having to discuss the “Israeli-Palestinian issue” and make some kind of grand gesture – such as Leonard Cohen’s coexistence fund – or even a small gesture, like Paul McCartney visiting a Palestinian music school, or Elton John making his “nobody’s gonna stop me” speech from the stage. Not to mention how the “boycott Israel” campaign folks will be jamming your website and management with pleas, threats, and calls to avoid playing in “apartheid” Israel.
But Bruce, or may I call you ‘boss’ – that extra effort will be worthwhile. They are all reasons why you should be coming here. Your music and career have always been about grand gestures and small moments – the triumph of human spirit, battling against adversity, the celebration of life, and freedom amid the realizations of what the costs are.
Israel embodies all of those qualities, as well – we are the Bruce Springsteen of the Middle East. And you may not know it, but we agonize over the situation with the Palestinians and a great majority are in favor of a two-state solution that will result in our neighbors also experiencing the freedom we enjoy.
So, unlike Elvis Costello, who after receiving counsel from confidants who advised that coming here was too much of a land mine, I call on you to arrive at the alternate conclusion – that coming to Israel is the only option.
Come here and see for yourself, go visit Palestinians, but also make sure you see what Israel has to offer. Nothing is black and white, which your songs have made very clear over the years.
I remember the last time I saw you in concert – in Boston, in 1978 as you introduced your new album, “Darkness on the Edge of Town.” You performed as if your life depended on it. At the end of show, before the encore, you talked a bit and concluded with something like “Nobody wins unless everybody wins!”
Those were daring words to say, foreshadowing the Reagan Me Decade and the unfettered economic greed that overtook the United States. And those are words to bring back now.
A Bruce Springsteen show in Israel in 2012 will be a win-win situation for everyone involved.
Bruce, it’s time to finally show up in the Promised Land.
This letter appeared as a blogpost on the ISRAEL21c.org website and is reprinted with permission.