Lorde rethinking Tel Aviv show in response to Palestinian call

Fans are urging pop singer Lorde to cancel her Tel Aviv show, scheduled for June 2018. 

Liliane Callegari Flickr

Fans of the pop singer Lorde and legendary comedian Chris Rock are asking them to cancel planned performances in Tel Aviv.

This week, after learning that Lorde had announced a June gig there, Justine Sachs and Nadia Abu-Shanab, two activists in her home country of New Zealand, urged the chart-topping singer to reconsider crossing the international picket line.

It looks like Lorde is already thinking again.

“The weeks prior to your tour announcement have been a difficult time for Palestinians,” the activists write in an open letter published in New Zealand’s The Spinoff.

They note the Israeli army’s killings and other injuries to hundreds of Palestinians protesting US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, as well as the detention of Palestinian teenager Ahed Tamimi and members of her family this week.

“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,” the letter states.

The activists point to Elvis Costello’s condemnation of artists who break the Palestinian boycott, New Zealander support of the boycott of apartheid South Africa and Lorde’s own outspoken criticisms of the Trump administration.

On Wednesday, Lorde acknowledged that she had read the letter and said she is “considering all options.” She thanked the authors for educating her, noting “I am learning all the time too.”

Will Chris Rock art-wash Israeli apartheid?

As part of a world tour, Chris Rock has scheduled a gig at the Menora Mivtachim Arena in Tel Aviv on 8 January. The US comedian and actor has so far remained silent despite months of activists and fans urging him to cancel it.

“We have established a nonviolent picket line and we are asking Chris Rock to not cross it, to stand with the oppressed, as he would have in the struggle against apartheid South Africa or the Jim Crow South,” Sharaf Qutaifan of PACBI, the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, told The Electronic Intifada.

Qutaifan added that artists who lend their names to Israel’s oppressive system by crossing the picket line “art-wash” Israel’s violations of international law, “thus becoming the darlings of the very government that oppresses us.”

This message was also delivered to Rock in an open letter from more than 20 Palestinian performing arts organizations who point to Israel’s “decades-old regime of military occupation, siege, ethnic cleansing and, indeed, apartheid.”

Noting that Israel’s institutionalized racism also targets Africans, including members of the Jewish community, and asylum seekers, the Palestinian artists urge Rock not to “undermine our struggle.”

“We shall continue to resist Israel’s dehumanization of us just as the Movement for Black Lives resists racial violence and institutionalized oppression in the US,” the artists tell Rock, who has given his vocal support to the protests against racist violence by American police.

Nothing extraordinary

Earlier in the year, Israeli activists urged Rock to heed the Palestinian call for BDS – boycott, divestment and sanctions.

“Our long years of anti-racist activism have brought us to the understanding that the most effective way to stop the apartheid system that Israel employs against the Palestinian people is to boycott it,” the group Boycott from Within said.

Nearly 4,000 people have signed a petition urging Rock to cancel his show.

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Nora Barrows-Friedman

Nora Barrows-Friedman's picture

Nora Barrows-Friedman is a staff writer and associate editor at The Electronic Intifada, and is the author of In Our Power: US Students Organize for Justice in Palestine (Just World Books, 2014).