Lorde should have contributed to ‘spirit of hope and peace’ – ambassador

Israel envoy to New Zealand says instead of canceling Tel Aviv gig, singer could have created ‘tolerance and friendship’ through her music

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

Israel’s ambassador to New Zealand wrote an open letter to pop star Lorde on Wednesday, telling her that instead of canceling her Tel Aviv concert she could have spread a positive message.

Itzhak Gerberg initially tweeted an invitation to the 21-year-old singer to meet with him over her decision to cave to pressure from Israel boycott activists.

Later he took to Facebook to address the songstress directly, telling her it was “regrettable” she had canceled her concert and disappointed her Israeli fans.

Israel ambassador to New Zealand, Itzhak Gerberg in June 2017. (Screen capture: Facebook video)

“Music is a wonderful language of tolerance and friendship, which brings people together,” he wrote. “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.”

27 December 2017An open letter to Lorde by the Ambassador of Israel to New ZealandDear Lorde,It is regrettable…

Posted by Israel in New Zealand on Tuesday, December 26, 2017

On the other hand, he wrote, “boycott and hate represents hostility and intolerance.”

He reissued his invitation for Lorde, whose real name is Ella Yelich-O’Connor, to meet with him and discuss “Israel, its achievements and its role as the only democracy in the Middle East.”

The 21-year-old singer formally announced on Sunday she would be pulling out of the June 5 Tel Aviv concert and refunding Israeli fans who had bought tickets.

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 singer had tweeted that she was now “considering all options.”

It was not only Israelis who were upset with Lorde’s decision. One Palestinian woman, Abdalla Nassar‏, tweeted that she wanted the singer to reconsider.

“I am Palestinian and I am urging you to come because this is the only chance for me to go to your concert,” she wrote. “These guys telling you not to come don’t even live here yet they want to ruin this chance for me and others like me.”

Juliet Moses, head of the Jewish Council of New Zealand, criticized those who pressured Lorde to cancel her Israel concert, pointing out their hypocrisy.

“What terrible pressure to put on a young woman, as if the fate of the Palestinians depended on her decision,” she wrote in an opinion piece in New Zealand news site Stuff.

“At the same time as she announced her show in Tel Aviv, Lorde, who said in her statement that she prides herself on being informed, also announced dates in Russia,” Moses wrote. “Strangely, despite that country’s human rights abuses, support of the genocidal Assad regime in Syria, and occupation of Crimea, no one called for her to cancel that show or suggested she is a Putin supporter.”

The Zionist Federation of New Zealand also highlighted the double standards of those who support a boycott against Israel.

“By singling out Israel amongst other nations whose human rights abuses make any that Israel supposedly commit seem a drop in the ocean, shows the double standards and discrimination towards the Jewish state of those in the BDS movement,” the federation said in a statement.

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