Lorde Cancels Israel Concert Amid Protests: "I'm Truly Sorry"

by Sydney Bucksbaum
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Fans in Israel are going to have a wait a bit longer to see Lorde perform live. The 21-year-old Grammy-winning singer had a concert scheduled in Tel Aviv in June 2018, but has withdrawn from performing due to the ongoing cultural boycott. After requests from boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) activists, Lorde, a champion of political and social issues herself, confirmed that she would not be going through with the Israel stop on her planned world tour.

"Hey guys, so about this israel show – 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," Lorde wrote in the statement obtained by the Jerusalem Post's Amy Spiro, without actually referring to the BDS protests by name. "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."

"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 added. Lorde had been scheduled to play the Tel Aviv Convention Centre on June 5 as a part of her "Melodrama" world tour.

Also confirming Lorde's statement is Eran Arielli, owner and founder of concert organizer Naranjah, which promoted her planned Tel Aviv show. "I have no complains about her, and beyond that, my opinion of her has not changed one millimeter," he wrote on Facebook. "The truth is that I was naive to think that an artist of her age can withstand the pressure involved in coming to Israel, and I take full responsibility and ask the forgiveness of fans, admirers, and other dreamers."

The concert cancelation comes after Lorde responded to an open letter from two young women, Jewish New Zealander Justine Sachs and Palestinian New Zealander Nadia Abu-Shanab, urging her not to play in Israel. "The weeks prior to your tour announcement have been a difficult time for Palestinians," the women wrote in the letter published on The Spinoff. "Since the 6th of December Israel has killed 11 Palestinians, injured 3000 and detained 350. The detained includes numerous women and children ... In this context, a performance in Israel sends the wrong message."

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"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 continued. "Such an effect cannot be undone by even the best intention and the best music. As Elvis Costello put it when he canceled his show in Israel, 'there are occasions when merely having your name added to a concert schedule may be interpreted as a political act that resonates more than anything that might be sung and it may be assumed that one has no mind for the suffering of the innocent.' We know this isn’t you."

Lorde immediately responded to the letter with a tweet posted before she eventually canceled her concert. "Noted!" she wrote. "Been speaking w many people about this and considering all options. Thank u for educating me i am learning all the time too."

The recent BDS movement, modeled after a similar campaign in the 1970s and 80s to end apartheid rule in South Africa, calls for an end to international support for Israel's oppression of Palestinians and pressure Israel to comply with international law. The protests have increased in the past few days as President Donald Trump announced Jerusalem as Israel's capital, which immediately resulted in deadly riots in Gaza.

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Besides the obvious massive political implications to this announcement, the pop culture fallout has been severe. Lorde is only the latest in a long line of artists to cancel an Israel concert after the BDS movement pressured them, including Lauryn Hill, Gil Scott-Heron, Roger Waters, Elvis Costello and more.

However, other artists like Radiohead went ahead with planned Israel shows in 2017. Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke explained his reasoning for going through with the July show by saying that music is about "crossing borders, not building them." He told Rolling Stone, "There's an awful lot of people who don't agree with the [Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions] movement, including us. I don't agree with the cultural ban at all."

Lorde definitely named her world tour right, because there's certainly enough melodrama surrounding it already.