In Israel, even concerts are political. For international superstars, deciding whether to show up might imply what side you’re on: Israel’s or Palestine’s. And over the weekend, the singer Lorde became the latest musician to cancel a performance in Tel Aviv after fans pressured her to do so.
Last week, two of Lorde’s fans in New Zealand — one of them Jewish and the other Palestinian — published an open letter to the Grammy-award-winning singer, asking her to cancel a performance planned for June 5, 2018. It cited “the Israeli government’s policies of oppression” and “apartheid,” and said that “we believe that an economic, intellectual and artistic boycott is an effective way of speaking out against these crimes.” The letter added that “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 letter did not specifically mention the boycott, divestment and sanctions — or BDS — movement, but the views expressed within it are in line with that Palestinian-led campaign. Since 2005, the BDS movement has urged academic and governmental institutions, companies, musicians and others to avoid visiting Israel and buying its products with the goal of getting Israel to end its occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip and allow Palestinians to return to places they left or were forced out of when Israel was created in 1948.
At first Lorde responded to the letter by saying she would reconsider the concert date, and by Sunday, she said in a statement, “I’ve received an overwhelming number of messages and 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 added that she’s…