“This is a quarrel between brothers… That has to be reconciled, in a much more imaginative way that either is approaching it today” Leonard Cohen On The Arab–Israeli Conflict (1988)

Cohen once said, “In any crisis in Israel I would be there.” Is that still true?

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Well, a saying I now have is ‘I can’t stand idly by my brother’s blood.’ It’s not political as such but my feelings about this whole thing, if anybody really has the time or interest in what I think about the thing, is there in Book Of Mercy. And it’s in prayer… ‘Israel, and you who call yourself Israel, and every nation chosen to be a nation, none of these lands is yours, all of you are thieves of holiness, all of you are at war with mercy… has Mercy made you wise? Will Ishmael declare, we are in debt forever? Therefore the lands belong to none of you, the borders do not hold. The law will never serve the lawless…’quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

And yet, irrespective of how timeless one hopes prayer or poetry can be, that book was published in 1984. Has Cohen’s perspective been in any way altered by what is happening in Israel today?

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I feel the same. These are brothers. This is Ishmael and Israel. This is a quarrel between brothers, these are two peoples who have legitimate right to the same piece of land. That has to be reconciled, in a much more imaginative way that either is approaching it todayquotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

From Read Leonard Cohen’s exclusive interview with Hot Press from 1988 by Joe Jackson (Hot Press: 11 Nov 2016)

“I think people who need this book will find it useful. …” Leonard Cohen On His Book Of Mercy


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At a certain point I felt the need to ask for something from no earthly authority and found myself addressing the source of mercy. I think people who need this book will find it useful.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

From Cohen at 50: On His Songs, His Women And Children by Chris Cobb Ottawa Citizen: April 21, 1984

Leonard Cohen On His Book Of Mercy As Prayers: “You’re trying to locate a source of strength that you just don’t command”

 

Interviewer: When I was reading [Book Of Mercy], I could feel with each prayer a stripping away of illusion.

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That’s what I was trying to do. After all, you’re not on the stand when you are praying. You can’t come with any excuses. And you don’t really have a deep belief in your own opinions any longer, or your constructions about the way things are. That’s why you pray. You don’t have a prayer. You’re trying to locate a source of strength that you just don’t commandquotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

From Talking Out of Turn #29: Leonard Cohen (1984) by Kevin Courrier. Critics at Large: May 19, 2012, Note: The interview took place in 1984

“You just find yourself shattered without any other recourse but to address the source of things” Leonard Cohen On Writing Book Of Mercy

bookmercyWhat prompted this activity [writing Book Of Mercy]?

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You just find yourself shattered without any other recourse but to address the source of things. Everybody finds themselves at that place from time to time.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

From Talking Out of Turn #29: Leonard Cohen (1984) by Kevin Courrier. Critics at Large: May 19, 2012. Note: The interview took place in 1984. Originally posted April 18, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric