When Canadian-Jewish singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen plays Ramat Gan Stadium just outside Tel Aviv in September, he and his promoters will donate their takes to an organization that works with Israeli and Palestinian parents who have lost children to the bloodshed but still work for peace. Such a gesture is par for the course for Cohen, who keeps Shabbat (despite also being a practicing Zen Buddhist) and who played for Israeli troops in 1973 during the Yom Kippur War. Cohen turned down an early suggestion that he also play Ramallah, the Palestinian city in the West Bank, with his manager citing the “noise level” that would attend such a performance and threaten to drown out Cohen’s music in more ways than one. Cohen has also rejected calls from some pro-Palestinian groups to boycott Israel. “Leonard had a very simple thought,” Cohen’s manager told the Jerusalem Post. “He said ‘I’d like to play, but I just can’t take any money out. I want it to stay there.’”
Marc Tracy is a staff writer at The New Republic, and was previously a staff writer at Tablet. He tweets @marcatracy.