Pop singer Lorde branded a ‘bigot’ by Rabbi for cancelling Israel gig
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Pop singer Lorde branded a ‘bigot’ by Rabbi for cancelling Israel gig

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach takes out full page ad in the Washington Post criticising the New Zealand-born artist's move

Rabbi  Shmuley Boteach's ad in the Washington Post
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach's ad in the Washington Post

Supporters of  pop star Lorde have defended her against accusations she is a ‘bigot’ for heeding the calls of BDS supporters.

A prominent American Rabbi, Shmuley Boteach criticised the 21-year-old artist in a Washington Post ad published Monday, for cancelling a gig in Israel.

“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 [Syrian president Bashar al-]Assad’s genocidal regime,” the ad says.

“Let’s boycott the boycotters and tell Lorde and her fellow bigots that Jew-hatred has no place in the twenty-first century.”

The ad also states that “21 is young to become a bigot.”

Boteach had raised money for the ad on a GoFundMe page. As of Tuesday afternoon, the campaign had raised £19,000 ($26,528) of a £74,000 ($100,000) goal, with £18,000 ($25,000) coming from one donor.

Juliet Moses, spokeswoman for the New Zealand Jewish Council, stood by Lorde however. “We think it’s inflammatory, we think it’s unnecessary to accuse Lorde of being bigot, and we think it essentially promotes intransigence on both sides of the issue,” she told the local media. “She has made that decision and we certainly don’t believe she should be bullied for doing so.”

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach’s ad in the Washington Post

Moses later told JTA: “We are deeply disappointed that Lorde has succumbed to a small but loud group of extremist bullies. Boycotts of Israel will not lead to peace. Those who advocate them are not interested in negotiations between the two sides to this conflict or a two-state solution.

“By cancelling her show, Lorde has sided with those who support the isolation and demonisation of the one Jewish state in the world. She has ignored the moderate voices, including the vast majority of Jewish Kiwis, who believe in dialogue and co-existence, and the leading musicians like Radiohead, Nick Cave, Guns N Roses and Justin Bieber who have performed in Tel Aviv in the last year.”

The ad also notes that the “growing prejudice against the Jewish State” in New Zealand was “trickling down to its youth.”

In the days following Lorde’s decision to cancel her summer concert in Tel Aviv, Israel’s ambassador to New Zealand, Itzhak Gerberg, in a public statement on Facebook invited the singer to meet with him in person to “discuss Israel, its achievements and its role as the only democracy in the Middle East.”

Asked by JTA if he would be willing to reach out to Lorde in the same way, Boteach said he would.

Lorde said she would cancel her Tel Aviv concert less than a week after it was announced after pro-Palestinian fans in her native New Zealand criticised her.

New Zealanders Nadia Abu-Shanab and Justine Sachs — the former Palestinian and the latter Jewish — wrote an open letter 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.

Lorde said in a statement about the cancellation that she educated herself about Israel before booking the concert, but that “I didn’t make the right call on this one.”

In a statement distributed on social media and by her booking agency, Lorde wrote: “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”

Israeli producer Eran Arieli in a Facebook post apologised to fans.

“I was naive to think an artist of her age could handle that pressure,” he wrote. 

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