At the end of 2017 (so, like, last week) Lorde announced that she would be cancelling her Tel Aviv tour date after protest from the pro-Palestine Boycott, Divest, and Sanctions (BDS) movement. BDS activists want to model the movement after the cultural and economic boycotts against South Africa—which took aim at the country’s apartheid. All great stuff, right? Not according to Orthodox Jewish rabbi Shmuley Boteach, whose This World: The Values Network took out a full-page ad in The Washington Post with the headline ‘Lorde And New Zealand Ignore Syria To Attack Israel,’ labeling her a “bigot,” and blaming her for “growing prejudice against the Jewish State.”
It is a common propaganda tactic to associate a pro-Palestinian stance with Antisemitism, but that’s simply not the case: the BDS movement seeks to end Israeli apartheid in the Palestinian state. Two BDS advocates from New Zealand, one Jewish and one Palestinian, wrote a letter to Lorde days before her decision, distinguishing the difference and educating the singer on the current situation in the Middle East. We’ll let them take it from here:
Since 1967, Israel has militarily occupied Palestinian land in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza strip. The occupation is considered an affront to international law and Israeli settlements in the area explicitly violate the Geneva Convention. The military occupation of Palestinian territories has resulted in an apartheid state. Palestinians living in the occupied territories do not enjoy the same rights Israeli citizens enjoy, they are denied freedom of movement and often basic services and necessities.
Today, millions of people stand opposed to the Israeli government’s policies of oppression, ethnic cleansing, human rights violations, occupation and apartheid. As part of this struggle, we believe that an economic, intellectual and artistic boycott is an effective way of speaking out against these crimes. This worked very effectively against apartheid in South Africa, and we hope it can work again.
Israel’s violations are so brutal, Nelson Mandela’s own grandson, Mandla Mandela, said: “The settlements I saw here [in the West Bank] reminded me of what we had suffered in South Africa because we also were surrounded by many settlements and were not allowed to move from one place to another freely. Palestinians are being subjected to the worst version of apartheid.” He added, “Israel is the worst apartheid regime” and called for the continued support of the boycott movement.
The question becomes...will other musicians follow in Lorde’s footsteps?
Read the full letter here.