Over 100 artists back Lorde for axing Israel show

Signatories of open letter published in the Guardian slam US rabbi who called Kiwi singer a ‘bigot’ for canceling Tel Aviv gig

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)

Over 100 artists have written an open letter in support of New Zealand pop singer Lorde, after she was denounced as a “bigot” by an American rabbi for canceling a show in Israel.

The 21-year-old singer said last week she would be pulling out of a June 5 Tel Aviv concert, according to the Israeli promoter. The move drew scads of criticism in Israel that she had caved to pressure from the pro-Palestinian Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement.

In the letter published Friday by the Guardian, the artists condemned US celebrity rabbi Shmuley Boteach’s full page Washington Post advertisement published earlier in the week, in which he called Lorde a Jew-hating “bigot” and a hypocrite on human rights issues.

“Shmuley Boteach, the author and promoter of the advert, supports Israel’s illegal settlements and wrote last month on Breitbart to thank Donald Trump for ‘electrifying the world’ with his recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in defiance of international law,” the artists wrote in the letter.

“He has nothing to teach artists about human rights. We deplore the bullying tactics being used to defend injustice against Palestinians and to suppress an artist’s freedom of conscience. We support Lorde’s right to take a stand,” the letter added.

Among the artists to sign the letter were Roger Waters, the former Pink Floyd frontman who has become a leading advocate of boycotting Israel, and British director Ken Loach, who came under fire last year for urging a cultural boycott of Israel, despite making money off the screening of his films in Israel.

Musician Roger Waters performs during his Us + Them Tour at Staples Center on June 20, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Kevin Winter/Getty Images/AFP)

Monday’s ad by Boteach, an outspoken rabbi and political advocate, said “Lorde and New Zealand ignore Syria to attack Israel,” followed by “21 is young to become a bigot.”

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach. Teacher, clergyman, scholar, and congressional hopeful (photo credit: Courtesy)
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach (Courtesy)

The ad was paid for by Boteach’s World Values Network. Boteach set up a GoFundMe web page to finance the advertisement with donations. As of Monday, he had raised $26,000 out of a stated goal of $100,000.

Boteach called Lorde a hypocrite for going ahead with two planned shows in Russia, despite Russian President Vladimir Putin’s backing of the Assad regime in the Syrian civil war, a point others had previously noted.

“While Lorde claims to be concerned with human rights she hypocritically chose to proceed with her two concerts in Putin’s Russia, despite his support for Assad’s genocidal regime which has already claimed the lives of over 500,000 innocents, and Russia’s own endless litany of human rights abuses,” the text read.

“Lorde joined a global anti-Semitic boycott of Israel but will perform in Russia, despite Putin’s support for Assad’s genocide in Syria,” Boteach wrote. “Let’s boycott the boycotter and tell Lorde and her fellow bigots that Jew-hatred has no place in the twenty-first century.”

The rabbi noted New Zealand’s track record of supporting measures critical of Israel at the United Nations.

“Sadly, New Zealand’s growing prejudice against the Jewish State seems to be trickling down to its youth,” the ad said. Lorde, the advertisement continued, had “joined the anti-Semitic BDS movement which seeks the economic annihilation of the Jewish State, by cancelling her scheduled concert in Tel Aviv.”

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

In response, the singer had tweeted that she was “considering all options.” The concert promoter later announced the show was aborted.

The Jewish Council of New Zealand and the Zionist Federation of New Zealand both criticized the decision and highlighted the double standards of those who support a boycott against Israel.

Israel’s ambassador to New Zealand Itzhak Gerberg invited Lorde to meet with him and discuss “Israel, its achievements, and its role as the only democracy in the Middle East.”

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