Lorde’s decision to cancel her performance in Israel has been suitably contentious.
Now Israel’s ambassador to New Zealand has requested to meet with the Grammy-winning singer following her decision to pull out of her Tel Aviv show in May.
In an open letter posted on Facebook Wednesday, ambassador Itzhak Gerberg called the decision “regrettable” and criticised the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement for pressuring the singer into cancelling her show.
“Music is a wonderful language of tolerance and friendship, which brings people together,” the letter reads. “Your concert in Israel could have spread the message that solutions come from constructive engagement that leads to compromise and cooperation.”
“Music should unite not divide and your performance in Israel could have contributed to the spirit of hope and peace in the Middle East.”
BDS have long called for a cultural boycott of Israel, arguing that when international artists play in its venues “they help to create the false impression that Israel is a ‘normal’ country like any other.”
The singer has been urged by pro-Palestinian activists on New Zealand website The Spinoff to reconsider her planned Israel performance in May.
“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 by Nadia Abu-Shanab and Justine Sachs reads.
Lorde acknowledged the opposition to her performance on Twitter on Dec. 21, and said she was “considering all options.”
Noted! Been speaking w many people about this and considering all options. Thank u for educating me i am learning all the time too 🌸
— Lorde (@lorde) December 21, 2017
On Christmas Eve, Lorde decided to cancel her show. She issued a statement through the Israeli public relations firm handling the tour, published in the Jerusalem Post.
“I 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 … I’m not too proud to admit I didn’t make the right call on this one,” she said.
According to the newspaper, one of the founders of the touring company Naranjah who booked Lorde, Eran Arielli, wrote on Facebook that he was “naive to think that an artist of her age would be able to face the pressure of appearing in Israel.”
Lorde is not the first to cancel a concert in Israel. Lauryn Hill cancelled her show in Israel in 2015, after organising another performance in the Palestinian territories at the same time proved to be “a challenge.” Elvis Costello cancelled shows in 2010 on the “matter of instinct and conscience.”
Radiohead performed in Israel back in July, despite pressure on the band to cancel their gig. Lead singer Thom Yorke responded to a letter by director Ken Loach calling for a boycott, arguing that “playing in a country isn’t the same as endorsing its government.”
As for Lorde, the singer added in her statement that she is still looking forward to visiting Israel someday.
“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 wrote.