Following the cancellation of Lorde’s concert in Tel Aviv, Israel’s ambassador to New Zealand reached out to the singer, penning an open letter suggesting that she is communicating the wrong message by doing so, and requesting that they meet in person “to discuss Israel, its achievements and its role as the only democracy in the Middle East.”
“Your concert in Israel could have spread the message that solutions come from constructive engagement that leads to compromise and cooperation,” Dr. Itzhak Gerberg wrote. “Your performance in Israel could have contributed to the spirit of hope and peace in the Middle East.”
“Boycott and hate on the other hand, represents hostility and intolerance and I was sorry to see that you have succumbed to the supporters of a small fanatic group of BDS (Boycott, Divest and Sanction) movement that denies the right of the State of Israel to exist and spreads hatred and animosity,” he continued.
The decision to cancel the concert came about after New Zealand website The Spinoff published an open letter urging Lorde to boycott the nation. In the weeks leading up to the letter, the Trump Administration announced that they would recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and relocated the U.S. Embassy there from Tel Aviv, leading to deadly riots in Gaza. “Playing in Tel Aviv will be seen as giving support to the policies of the Israeli government, even if you make no comment on the political situation,” The Spinoff’s letter said, continuing:
As fans of yours, we know that you’re an empathetic artist who is committed to the empowerment of women, the LGBTIQ community and people of colour. We’ve watched as you’ve used your platform to draw attention to institutional racism, sexism and white privilege. You’ve talked about the need to “stay informed and stay outraged” about the intolerant and discriminatory policies of the Trump administration. We only ask you do the same with the Israeli government.
Without explicitly citing the cultural boycott, Lorde followed through with their request. “I’ve received an overwhelming number of messages & letters and have had a lot of discussions with people holding many views, and I think the right decision at this time is to cancel the show,” she stated. “I pride myself on being an informed young citizen, and I had done a lot of reading and sought a lot of opinions before deciding to book a show in Tel Aviv, but I’m not too proud to admit I didn’t make the right call on this one.”
Before the cancellation, Lorde was scheduled to perform at the Tel Aviv Convention Centre June 5 as part of her world tour supporting Melodrama. “Tel Aviv, it’s been a dream of mine to visit this beautiful part of the world for many years, and I’m truly sorry to reverse my commitment to come play for you. I hope one day we can all dance,” she concluded.
Lorde’s decision mirrors those of Roger Waters, Thurston Moore, Elvis Costello and others, who have also chosen to cancel their Israel shows following pressure from the BDS movement. On the other hand, Radiohead and Nick Cave have followed through with their Israel concerts despite unsparing criticism.
Find the Israel ambassador’s full open letter to Lorde here.