Lorde Cancels Tel Aviv Show Amid Criticism of Israel's Treatment of the Palestinians

Lorde is "considering all options" after a Tel Aviv tour date spurred calls to boycott Israel. Shown here, she performs at the 2017 Vodafone New Zealand Music Awards on November 16, 2017 in Auckland, New Zealand. Phil Walter/Getty Images

Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Lorde has canceled her upcoming June concert in Tel Aviv, Israeli media has reported.

The decision comes days after the 21-year-old New Zealander was called on by two of her compatriots active in the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement to cancel the show in protest of the Israeli government's ill-treatment of Palestinians.

On Sunday, Israeli news site YNET reported that the local organizers in charge of putting on the show announced the cancellation in a statement.

"We regret to announce the cancellation of the Lorde concert in Israel planned for June. The tickets already bought will be reimbursed within 14 business days. As to the circumstances that led to the cancellation of the show, Lorde is expected to publish a statement via Twitter soon," the organizers told YNET's Ami Friedman.

Soon after, Lorde released a statement confirming the news, as reported by Amy Spiro of The Jerusalem Post.

Here is @Lorde's statement on the cancellation of her Tel Aviv show, via Israeli PR for the concert. pic.twitter.com/Ph0uGHRjCV

— Amy Spiro (@AmySpiro) December 24, 2017
Lorde performs onstage during the 2017 Governors Ball Music Festival - Day 1 at Randall's Island on June 2, 2017 in New York City. Theo Wargo/Getty Images

On Thursday, activists Nadia Abu-Shanab, of Palestinian descent, and Justine Sachs, who's Jewish, co-wrote a letter calling on Lorde to forego playing in Israel as a protest against the country's expansionist policies in the West Bank and reported human rights violations:

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.

Abu-Shanab and Sachs go on to argue that Lorde's performance would essentially be an endorsement of the Israeli government.

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.

The "Royals" singer responded on Twitter soon after, saying the letter was "noted" and that she was "considering all options."

A clear and urgent (not to mention fantastically written) open letter to @lorde by @precariatqueer and Nadia Abu-Shanab https://t.co/LKVbY3jeBV

— jennui (@jonnoxrevanche) December 21, 2017

Lorde's decision to cancel the show was met with diverging reactions online.

Jewish Voices for Peace, a progressive political organization in support of the BDS movement, celebrated the move, tweeting, "#BDS WIN!"

#BDS WIN! New Zealand singer Lorde cancels Israel show after BDS pressure - Israel News - https://t.co/i4lid0bv87 https://t.co/HJN37g5vUd

— Jewish Voice for Peace (@jvplive) December 24, 2017

Alternatively, others have detracted the move as hypocritical, claiming that Lorde is willing to perform in other countries who are also accused of human rights violations.

As reported by Spiro of The Jerusalem Post, the Israeli government's culture minister, Miri Regevalso, derided Lorde's decision in a statement, arguing that the BDS movement's charges against Israel are "ridiculous" and that the singer should be "a heroine of pure culture" in reference to her critically acclaimed debut album, Pure Heroine (2013).

Culture Minister Miri Regev issued a statement calling on Lorde to reverse her cancellation: "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."

— Amy Spiro (@AmySpiro) December 24, 2017

One of Lorde's fans also lamented the move, tweeting: "You literally broke my heart."

For Israeli author Yuval Ben-Ami, who recently produced a work of political art entitled, "The Israeli-Palestinian Lorde Diaries," the decision to cancel the show is paramount to the BDS movement's influence on a new generation of performers.

"Several other great artists have canceled, [but Lorde] appears to be the first of her generation, and that's meaningful," Ben-Ami told Newsweek.

As for the charges of hypocrisy, Ben-Ami believes that similar movements to BDS should spring in other countries where human rights violations are a concern.

"I am a huge fan of Lorde, but an even bigger fan of equality. So long as people here live without rights, hers is the right choice, and if the BDS movement is emulated in other places where human rights are a concern, that would be commendable," he said.

Lorde performs on the Other Stage at Worthy Farm in Somerset during the Glastonbury Festival in Britain, June 23, 2017. Dylan Martinez/Reuters

Dozens of internationally-recognized artists have been pressured by the BDS movement to cancel their shows in Israel in recent years.

Some of the artists who have heeded to the movement's demands include Brian Eno and Pink Floyd's Roger Waters, writers Arundhati Roy and Eduardo Galeano and film-maker Ken Loach, as reported by Hareetz.

Other artists—including Elton John, Britney Spears, Lady Gaga, Guns N' Roses, Rihanna, and Justin Bieber—have foregone the movement's demands.

Most recently, Radiohead and Nick Cave, both of whom issued blistering rebuttals to their pro-boycott peers. Radiohead emphasized the point by treating Tel Aviv to its longest set in 10 years, to almost 50,000 people.