Leonard Cohen's Legacy for His Concert in Israel


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TEL AVIV Leonard Cohen's path to his sold-out concert here Thursday night has been strewn with obstacles.

Those seeking to ostracize Israel through an international boycott demanded that he call it off. When he offered instead a matching concert in the West Bank, Palestinians said no thanks. Amnesty International agreed to help him distribute the concerts proceeds to peace groups; Amnesty International withdrew. Then last Friday, three days before turning 75, Mr. Cohen collapsed onstage in Valencia, Spain, in the middle of his classic Bird on a Wire and was rushed to the hospital.

But he recovered from what was food poisoning or stomach flu, performed smoothly on Monday in Barcelona and is now in Tel Aviv, his manager, Robert B. Kory, said by telephone. Mr. Cohen, he said, is in great shape.

Mr. Cohen has billed the performance, in front of 47,000 in the soccer stadium of the suburb Ramat Gan, A Concert for Reconciliation, Tolerance and Peace and is giving the expected profits of $1.5 million to $2 million to a new charity he has created of the same name, run by a board of Israelis and Palestinians, which will distribute money to groups focused on coexistence here.

In particular, Mr. Kory said, the money will go to organizations composed of people who have paid a great personal price because of the dispute and yet are working for peace. Prominent among such groups is the Parents Circle Families Forum, made up of Israelis and Palestinians who have lost close family members to the conflict.

When people meet face to face, the walls fall, said Roni Hirshenson, one of the Israeli founders of the 14-year-old group, who lost his son, Amir, in 1995 when two Palestinian suicide bombers mingled among a group of Israeli soldiers waiting at a bus stop. We reconcile by learning each others narratives, both personal and national.

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