Lorde has decided to cancel a planned show in Tel Aviv following pressure by activists and the “BDS” movement — short for boycott, divestment, and sanctions — who have called on artists to boycott performing in the country in the past. She announced the cancellation through a statement sent via her booking agency, apologizing to the fans and hoping to return to Israel one day in the future according to Variety:
hey guys, so about this [Israel] show – 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. i pride myself on being an informed young citizen, and i had done a lot of reading and sought a lot of opinions before deciding to book a show in tel aviv, but I’m not too proud to admit i didn’t make the right call on this one. 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. L x
The cancellation is one of a few to cancel due to these pressures, including Lauryn Hill and Elvis Costello, but the attempts have also seen stiff rebuttals from artists like Radiohead and Nick Cave. Nadia Abu-Shanab and Justine Sachs wrote a guest column at The Spinoff on December 20th, urging Lorde to cancel and laying out the reasons why they believed it was the right thing to do in light of Israel’s political decisions in the area:
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. Such an effect cannot be undone by even the best intention and the best music. As Elvis Costello put it when he canceled his show in Israel, “there are occasions when merely having your name added to a concert schedule may be interpreted as a political act that resonates more than anything that might be sung and it may be assumed that one has no mind for the suffering of the innocent.” We know this isn’t you.
Lorde responded to this open letter on Twitter saying, “Noted! Been speaking w many people about this and considering all options. Thank u for educating me i am learning all the time too.”
The response by those in Israel and Tel Aviv has been negative, but forgiving. Variety reached out to Israeli promoter Eran Arielli who said, “We forgive her” following the cancellation. Meanwhile, Israeli culture minister Miri Regev added that she hoped Lorde would change her mind:
“Lorde, I’m hoping you can be a ‘pure heroine,’ like the title of your first album, be a heroine of pure culture, free from any foreign – and ridiculous – political considerations.”
The Creative Community for Peace organization also released a statement according to Variety, standing firm by their mission of “promoting the arts as a means to peace and to countering the cultural boycott of Israel”:
“Artists should never become beholden to the political views of a small but loud minority. … Lorde became the target of that wrath, and we’re deeply disappointed that rather than rebuff the boycott movement and follow in the footsteps of Radiohead, Nick Cave, Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Justin Timberlake, and many other artists who have chosen to build #BridgesNotBoycotts, she canceled her show.”
Many reports are quick to point out that Lorde has not canceled two shows planned in Russia during the same tour, citing the nation’s anti-LGBT laws and other human rights issues.