After BDS pressure, popster Lorde cancels Israel gig
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After BDS pressure, popster Lorde cancels Israel gig

Two New Zealand pro-Palestinian activists apparently convince songstress to pull out of Tel Aviv concert; promoter to refund tickets

Lorde performs at Coachella Music & Arts Festival in Indio, California, on April 16, 2017. (Amy Harris/Invision/AP)
Lorde performs at Coachella Music & Arts Festival in Indio, California, on April 16, 2017. (Amy Harris/Invision/AP)

Pop singer Lorde canceled her upcoming concert in Tel Aviv on Sunday, days after saying she was considering pulling out of the gig. Her decision came following criticism from pro-Palestinian fans in her native New Zealand.

Although the June 5 concert in Tel Aviv was still listed on the singer’s Facebook page, tickets were no longer available and Hebrew media reported that the promoter would refund any tickets already purchased.

Concert promoter Naranjah sent a message that it was “sorry to announce” that Lorde’s show had been canceled.

The promoter released a message from Lorde in which she said she had “done a lot of reading and sought a lot of opinions” before booking the show, but she was “not too proud to admit” that she “didn’t make the right call on this one.”

“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 said.

However, she said that it had 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,” adding, “I hope one day we can all dance.”

The cancellation appears to be the latest in a series of acts to pull out of performances in Israel, after pressure from pro-Palestinian activists, who have pushed for a cultural boycott of the Jewish state.

Past cancellations include Elvis Costello, Lauryn Hill and The Gorillaz. Other acts have pushed back against the pressure, including rocker Nick Cave, who recently said his Israel concert was spurred on by the Boycott Divestment Sanctions movement, and Radiohead, which vigorously defended its decision to play in Israel last summer.

New Zealanders Nadia Abu-Shanab and Justine Sachs — respectively, Palestinian and Jewish — wrote an open letter on Thursday on the website, The Spinoff, saying that Lorde’s scheduled performance in Israel “sends the wrong message.”

“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,” they wrote.

In response, the 21-year-old singer tweeted that she was now “considering all options.”

The vast majority of replies to her tweets encouraged her to ignore those advocating a boycott and to go ahead with her concert.

Jewish New Zealand film and TV writer Dane Giraud wrote a subsequent essay on The Spinoff, arguing that the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel damages the peace process.

“[Abu-Shanab and Sachs] assert that the situation in the Middle East is ‘actually quite straightforward.’ But that is to reduce complexity to a placard, to skate over a studied consideration of a long and turbulent history,” Giraud wrote. “That leads to the reductive idea that ‘exclusion’ is the answer — the collective punishment of Israelis, 1.5 million Arabs included, through campaigns that seek to deny them participation in the world community.”

Jessica Steinberg and JTA contributed to this report.

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