Lorde pulls planned concert in Israel due to pressure from anti-Israel groups

The New Zealander pulled a Tel Aviv concert due to a fan outcry, one that ignored her planned Russian appearances

Published December 24, 2017 4:55PM (EST)


The New Zealand singer Lorde has cancelled a planned concert in the Israeli city of Tel Aviv due to an outcry from fans who are critical of that country's human rights record.

The news of Lorde's cancellation came from the concert producer Naranjah, according to The Jerusalem Post. The company released a statement saying that they "sadly" needed to announce that she had cancelled her appearance and that Lorde would explain more about the situation on Twitter. One of Naranja's founders, Eran Arieli, asked Lorde's Israeli fans to forgive her in a Facebook post on Sunday and argued that it was  "naive to think that an artist of her age would be able to face the pressure of appearing in Israel." He also denounced "the army of globalists and anti-Semites" who he blamed for pressuring Lorde.

The source of the initial outcry was a tweet by Lorde last week that listed a series of planned concerts in Russia and Israel.

The most prominent call for Lorde to cancel her concert came from New Zealand activists Justine Sachs and Nadia Abu-Shanab, who published a letter on the New Zealand website Spinoff. After describing the Jewish and Palestinian heritage of the authors, the letter pointed out that Israel's "military occupation of Palestinian territories has resulted in an apartheid state" and talked about how Palestinians are denied basic rights like freedom of movement. "Today, millions of people stand opposed to the Israeli government’s policies of oppression, ethnic cleansing, human rights violations, occupation and apartheid," the letter argued. "As part of this struggle, we believe that an economic, intellectual and artistic boycott is an effective way of speaking out against these crimes. This worked very effectively against apartheid in South Africa, and we hope it can work again." In response to the controversy, Lorde tweeted last week that she was "considering all options."

Israel has a poor human rights record, with Human Rights Watch decrying Israel for "severe and discriminatory restrictions on Palestinians’ human rights," including its construction of illegal settlements in the West Bank and its use of excessive military force against the Palestinians. The same organization has also drawn attention to human rights violations by Russia, however, from its occupations in Ukraine and Crimea to its suppression of basic freedoms like the right to free speech. The fact that the BDS Movement (Boycott, Divest and Sanctions) ignored that Lorde's concert plans also included appearances in Russia did not go unnoticed.

"Whatever the singer decides to do, her fans can rest easy knowing that they can enjoy her talents in multiple cities in Russia, a country that would never oppress, participate in ethnic cleansing, commit human rights violations or occupy anything — certainly not Chechnya, Georgia or Crimea," Jenny Singer of The Forward wrote. "For justice-seeking Lorde fans who don’t mind repressed freedom of expression and a dearth of civil rights, there will always be Russia."

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer for Salon. He holds an MA in History from Rutgers University-Newark and is ABD in his PhD program in History at Lehigh University. His work has also appeared in Mic, MSN, MSNBC, Yahoo, Quartz, The Good Men Project, The Daily Dot, Alter Net, Raw Story and elsewhere.

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Anti-zionism Israel Lorde Palestine Zionism