Lorde shows why Israel should indeed fear New Zealand

Israel lobby attacks on New Zealand singer Lorde for heeding calls to cancel Tel Aviv show appear to be backfiring. (Christian Yáñez)

A year ago, I wrote an article headlined, “Why Israel should fear New Zealand.”

It followed Wellington’s decision – angering and surprising Israel – to sponsor the December 2016 UN Security Council resolution condemning settlements on occupied Palestinian land.

I argued that New Zealand is a small country, but could have a big impact on the situation in Palestine as it has done on the world stage in the past.

I pointed out that in the 1980s, New Zealand angered the United States by declaring itself a “nuclear-free zone” – a policy that came about due to popular pressure on the government.

A decade earlier, New Zealand, along with Australia, took France to the International Court of Justice over the latter’s nuclear bomb tests in the Pacific. New Zealand sued France again after French spies bombed the Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior in Auckland harbor in 1985, killing photographer and anti-nuclear campaigner Fernando Pereira.

And New Zealand campaigners helped turn the sporting boycott of apartheid South Africa into an international phenomenon with their mass protests and disruptions of the 1981 tour by the Springbok rugby team.

In 2004, New Zealand even imposed diplomatic sanctions and jailed two Israeli agents over efforts to steal New Zealand passports, likely for use in clandestine operations or assassinations.

Groveling politicians

In the year since, New Zealand politicians, like virtually all their Western counterparts, have groveled to Israel. Gerry Brownlee, foreign minister in the conservative government that lost office in October, went cap in hand to Benjamin Netanyahu last June, pleading with the Israeli prime minister to let “the Israeli-New Zealand relationship to get back on track.”

Winston Peters, the foreign minister in the new Labour-led coalition, heads the right-wing nationalist New Zealand First party.

Peters had been a critic of New Zealand’s decision to back the Security Council resolution, fueling Israeli expectations that his appointment would herald a more sympathetic hearing in Wellington.

However in the run-up to last month’s UN General Assembly vote condemning Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern made clear her country would not be bullied.

New Zealand joined the overwhelming majority of nations that defied Trump’s threats and backed the resolution critical of the United States and Israel.

Lorde leads

But it was never politicians I was counting on to do what veteran New Zealand Palestinian rights campaigner Janfrie Wakim had called for after the UN Security Council vote on settlements: to “show Israel there is a cost” if it continues to ignore world opinion and violate Palestinian rights.

A year after the Security Council vote, New Zealand surprised Israel again. But this time it wasn’t the politicians.

It was the decision of chart-topping singer Lorde to cancel her scheduled show in Tel Aviv at the request of Palestinian and Jewish campaigners in her native country.

Once again, Israel’s diplomatic and propaganda machinery aimed its fire towards the South Pacific. Tel Aviv’s ambassador to Wellington invited the singer to a “friendly” meeting to discuss what the Israeli foreign ministry termed the “hate agenda” of BDS – the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement for Palestinian rights.

The Zionist Federation of New Zealand accused Lorde of caving in to “those who wish to see the destruction of Israel.”

Rancid attack

But surely the most rancid attack came this week from Shmuley Boteach, the self-styled “America’s rabbi” who took out a full-page ad in The Washington Post accusing Lorde of joining a “global anti-Semitic boycott of Israel.”

The ad claims that “New Zealand’s growing prejudice against the Jewish state seems to be trickling down to its youth.”

“Let’s boycott the boycotters and tell Lorde and her fellow bigots that Jew-hatred has no place in the 21st century,” the ad declares.

Such bile is no surprise coming from Boteach, a right-wing extremist backed by anti-Palestinian billionaire Sheldon Adelson.

Boteach has also been a prominent defender of alt-right platform Breitbart and its boss Steve Bannon.

But such vicious attacks are likely to repel rather than attract support for Israel.

As The New Zealand Herald reported Tuesday, the New Zealand Jewish Council – one of the country’s Israel lobby groups – was forced to distance itself from Boteach’s ad.

But on 26 December, the council’s spokesperson Juliet Moses had herself attacked Lorde in terms only slightly less hyperbolic than Boteach.

In an article for a pro-Israel website, Moses claimed that the singer had “given a nod to hatred and hypocrisy,” succumbed to pressure from a “fanatical fringe” and “taken a bow to a small group of noisy bullies” by cancelling her concert in Tel Aviv.

Just like Boteach’s ad, the New Zealand Jewish Council spokesperson accused Lorde of hypocrisy for supposedly ignoring human rights abuses in Russia and Syria.


What changed? Israel apologists in New Zealand are surely starting to recognize that their vitriol against Lorde is getting little traction.

Between Moses’ attack on Lorde and Boteach’s, The New Zealand Herald had made its own remarkable intervention.

In a 28 December editorial the country’s newspaper of record pushed back strongly against the Zionist Federation of New Zealand, calling the lobby group’s criticisms of Lorde “rubbish.”

“It is perfectly possible to oppose Jewish settlements on the West Bank, as indeed many Jews do, in Israel and outside, without being guilty of bigotry and prejudice,” the Herald stated. “The suggestion Israel should not be singled out when countries such as Russia are guilty of something similar is an argument New Zealanders often heard from defenders of South Africa in the apartheid era.”

“Sporting and cultural boycotts and campaigns for business disinvestment and international sanctions against Israel are a way of reminding public opinion in Israel the world needs Israel to keep striving for peace in its region,” the newspaper argued, effectively endorsing BDS. “Cultural figures such as Lorde are in a privileged position to give that message and New Zealand can be proud of her for doing so.”

A year since the Security Council vote, Israel should indeed still fear New Zealand.

But for people everywhere who support justice and peace, the example from that country of fewer than five million once again standing up to global powers is something to celebrate and inspire us.




Plaudits for the New Zealand Herald for having the courage to stand up to the Zionist Lobby and its usual tactics of intimidation and smears. And greater plaudits for Lorde, whom I'm quite sure, was fully aware of the Zionist smears that awaited her as she cancelled her concert in Tel Aviv. Lorde has stood her ground and is indeed a young woman of conscience.


Thank you New Zealand. There is a God, after all.


Yep - Plaudits for Lorde & the New Zealand Herald

My Mother became highly sympathetic to the Palestinian cause way back in 1948 when she was a teenager growing up in Wellington (New Zealand's capital) She was a member of the Youth section of the NZ Labour Party

Like the British & Australian Labour Parties - the NZLP tended to be favourable to Zionism back in the 40s & 50s but my Mum said she didn't have to read much between the lines of 1948-49 NZ newspaper reports to see that Israeli forces were carrying out a murderous ethnic cleansing of Palestinian Men Women & Children

By the time my brother & I were young boys growing up in Wellington in the early 1970s - we consequently knew Israeli hasbara when we saw it

At Primary School in 1972 (when I was 7) our teacher told us a guest Uk speaker would give us a talk on Israel - she proceeded to give us the entire stale old Zionist spiel & I remember thinking (1) What she's saying is rubbish & (2) This propaganda represents a blatant abuse of young minds

I was angry about it & mentioned it to my Mum who subsequently complained to the Headmaster

Just highlights for me that (thanks to our Mum - now 87 years old) me & my brother were pretty clued-up on it even as quite young kids (& well before many in the West had much idea)

By that stage we'd already marched against the Vietnam War (as toddlers - mid-late 60s) & a decade later in 81 we all marched against the Springbok Tour & South African apartheid

All part of the same fight - but Palestine special because having to overcome a tidal wave of Israeli black propaganda in the West for so many decades


I am proud of our countries impact over the decades to have common sense when It seems rare in Global Politics. SMALL is not always a dis-advantage especially as a consistent conscientious NZ stance is persistently expressed within it's motherland Aotearoa against greater odds. The Maori Culture has played a significant part of keeping NZ honest and the tenacity of the First Nation inhabitants to recognise their status must be acknowledged as a factor in this reoccurring stance. Empathy of an occuppied people and use of propaganga thru media and misinformation (education) is a common tool of racial suppression. Geneology is a significant part of the Culture as well and when it is deliberately used and abused to elevate a position which is widely known as false, then stupidity is rampant and violence reigns, divide and rule is the order of the day. It is easy to look good amonst the wicked and the small brother of peace and integrity with no weapons of mass destruction becomes a SUPER POWER.


Long live Palestine ...
Long live New Zealand ...
Well done Lorde. It is principled stands like your own that will eventually bring down Isreali racism & apartheid.
Well said Ms/Mr Catfish also ...


ZIONIST use the ant-semetic card like a big stick to beat down open debate on there treatment of the palestineions,and use $bs to silence the contempt of there apartied goverment


This is nice, but unfortunately the Herald piece was a surprising (and pleasant) deviation from the norm. The framing of the issue in New Zealand is consistently biased against the Palestinians, they are treated as 'the other' while Israel is seen as 'like us'. There have been articles without any pro-Palestinian voices while the greatest weight is given to pro-Israel spokespeople. Despite this popular sentiment in NZ seems to be largely behind the Palestinians right to be treated equally, the trend in this direction has been occurring significantly over the last twenty years and is continuing.


Hello Simon, I take heart from your words, " ....popular sentiment in NZ seems to be largely behind the Palestinians right to be treated equally, the trend in this direction has been occurring significantly over the last twenty years and is continuing..."

Let us give praise to the Goddess of Justice in that she is moving in the right, just & fair direction :-)
There would really be cause for concern if the 'movement' were NOT in the direction of treating our Palestinian brothers & sisters as human beings.
Time is not on the side of the lying. cheating, stealing & murdering Zionist Project thugs. Yes?


I really hope so. When it comes down to it the occupations supporters have two basic arguments, firstly that Israel should not be bound by international law. When Gerry Brownlie was interviewed on National Radio over his grovelling he refused to say whether the government still supported or repudiated the resolution that caused the whole drama. Given that the resolution simply stated basic international law to repudiate it would mean also being at odds with the rule of law, unfortunately the interviewer didn't press this point. The second argument and far more common is an appeal to racism; that Palestinians are uncontrollable bloodthirsty monsters who can't help but want to kill any Jew they come across This racist shit is why framing Palestinians as different and settlers as like us is so damaging, it's simply the thin end of the wedge. Cheers


Sadly, Paul Moon - Professor of History at Auckland University of Technology - has allowed himself to become a banal mouthpiece for official Israeli Propaganda (Hasbara) in the New Zealand media & (by lending his imprimatur) arguably risks bringing the academic History profession into disrepute (I particularly care about this because I studied History through to honours level at Uni and I find it extraordinary that he's getting away with pushing these long-demolished / highly partisan apologetics)

Moon is Director of the well-funded Pro-Israeli Think-Tank /Propaganda outfit Israel Institute of New Zealand. In 2016 he attacked Green MP Marama Davidson & the Gaza Peace flotilla as a 'ship of fools' (in a Fairfax op-ed)

More recently Moon has pushed the Netanyahu line on New Zealand's part in UNSC Resolution 2334 (in a Israel Institute of NZ interview)/dubiously attempted to link the (NZ) Iranian Embassy’s First Secretary to Holocaust Denial / took the lead role in a pro-Zionist witch-hunt against Uni of Auckland Professor of Sociology, Scott Poynting (who had written a Letter to the Editor - Waikato Times - intended as an ironic riposte to the official Israeli propaganda about the treatment of Palestinian workers inside Israel) / and perhaps most importantly has recently published a Dom Post op-ed that amounted to little more than regurgitating a stale pastiche of long-demolished official Israeli orthodoxy on Arab-Israeli History (Balfour Declaration: Changing history - Dom Post Oct 31 2017) This from a "History Professor" !

Great riposte to Moon from Serena Moran (Dom Post) here

In stark contrast to the UK & US, it's pretty unusual for Kiwi academics to take that sort of high-profile outspoken position. He's a Congregationalist and I'm guessing he's therefore from the Christian Zionist wing of the pro-Israel brigade.


Eg of the sheer banality of Moon's recent Hasbara efforts:

We know, of course, that before Zionist colonisation got fully underway in the early 20C, Palestinians had comprised well over 90% of the population for more than 1300 years, with the tiny, indigenous Jewish community making up less than 5% -Yet Moon simply describes Palestinians as "recent occupiers" of Palestine (Balfour Declaration: Changing history - Dom Post Oct 31 2017). Really amazing that this guy has the temerity to call himself a 'History Professor'. (But then, of course, I'm immediately reminded of that horrendous old academic fraud in the US Alan Dershowitz - so maybe not all *that* uncommon).


Simon said: "Despite this popular sentiment in NZ seems to be largely behind the Palestinians right to be treated equally, the trend in this direction has been occurring significantly over the last twenty years and is continuing."

Probably ... that's certainly the trend internationally. But the only scientific polling I've seen in NZ on the subject was from more than 12 years ago and basically found that:

- Roughly half of respondents said they Didn't Know / Didn't have enough information to decide = whether their sympathy lay largely with the Palestinians or Israelis
- The Other half who *did* express an opinion were pretty evenly divided between the two (roughly 25% each from memory)

But that was, of course, before Israel's murderous carpet-bombing of Gaza in its various 'operations' (2008 / 2012 / 2014). This 'mowing the lawn' (as Israel's highly sadistic Elites have called it) has transformed World public opinion.

The BBC included Australia (but not NZ) in its 2012-14 Polls on how Israel is perceived.
Israel's Influence: Mainly Negative or Mainly Positive ?
Australian Sample
2012 Neg 65% / Pos 18%
2013 Neg 69% / Pos 16%
2014 Neg 67% / Pos 24%
I suspect in NZ the negative views would be even higher (much more independent (moral-based) foreign policy thinking among the public / far smaller Zionist (incl Christian Zionist) community)

Ali Abunimah

Ali Abunimah's picture

Co-founder of The Electronic Intifada and author of The Battle for Justice in Palestine, now out from Haymarket Books.

Also wrote One Country: A Bold-Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse. Opinions are mine alone.