Israeli festival organizers accuse Lana Del Ray of publicity stunt in nixed gig

Officials say the US singer had been the one to originally contact them asking to participate, before canceling while citing Palestinian fans

Lana Del Ray attends the 2015 Billboard Women in Music honors at Cipriani 42nd Street on Friday, Dec. 11, 2015, in New York (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)
Lana Del Ray attends the 2015 Billboard Women in Music honors at Cipriani 42nd Street on Friday, Dec. 11, 2015, in New York (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

Israeli organizers of a festival in which American singer Lana Del Rey had been slated to perform — and from which she abruptly pulled out at the last minute — have blasted her decision as a public relations stunt.

Organizers of next week’s Meteor Festival in the Galilee told Hadashot TV news Del Ray had been the one to contact the festival expressing an interest in performing, only to suddenly cancel her gig at the last minute.

Del Ray had explained the cancellation by saying she had wanted to play both in Israel and in the Palestinian territories, but this proved impossible. Organizers said they had been unaware of any plans for a performance to Palestinians.

“It’s important for me to perform in both Palestine and Israel and treat all my fans equally,” Del Rey wrote on Twitter.

“Unfortunately, it hasn’t been possible to line up both visits with such a short notice and therefore I’m postponing my appearance at the Meteor Festival until a time when I can schedule visits for both my Israeli and Palestinian fans, as well as hopefully other countries in the region.”

Last week, Del Rey had defended her decision to play at the Meteor Festival, after facing a backlash over the September 7 gig from BDS (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions) activists.

She said then that while many fans were upset by her decision to play the three-day Festival, it was not akin to supporting Israeli government policies.

“I would like to remind you that performing in Tel Aviv is not a political statement or a commitment to the politics there just as singing here in California doesn’t mean my views are in alignment w my current governments opinions or sometimes inhuman actions,” she wrote.

In that statement, Del Rey wrote that she sees “both sides” but was just doing her “best to navigate the waters of the constant tumultuous hardships,” wherever she tours around the world.

New Zealand singer Lorde appears in 2013 video for ‘Royals.’ (Screen capture: YouTube)

The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel responded to the statement by citing New Zealand singer Lorde, who canceled a show in Israel late last year proclaiming that performing in Tel Aviv would be considered a political act.

Nearly every large act to book a show in Israel has come under pressure from pro-Palestinian groups. While some, like Lorde, Elvis Costello, and Cat Power have canceled gigs, most have resisted the boycott effort.

It’s unclear if other artists slated for the festival, which will see some 50 international and local acts perform from September 6-8, have also come under pressure.

Del Rey had also planned to perform in Israel in 2014 but was forced to cancel due to the Operation Protective Edge conflict between Hamas and Israel in Gaza.

The Meteor Festival will be attended by international acts such as Of Montreal, Rappers Pusha-T and A$AP Ferg, electronic musician Flying Lotus, American jazz saxophonist Kamasi Washington, and Russian DJ Nina Kraviz, as well as dozens of local performers, including Fortis, Berry Sakharov, ACollective, Assaf Amdursky, Ester Rada, Hadag Nachash, Jane Bordeaux, Khalas, Noga Erez, and Balkan Beat Box.

The festival is to be held at Kibbutz Lehavot Habashan on the Jordan River in the Upper Galilee. Participants will camp under the pecan trees, watching shows on five stages, and can buy full event or day passes.

Jessica Steinberg contributed to this report.

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