Lorde cancels Israel concert after pro-Palestinian campaign

New Zealand singer cites an ‘overwhelming number of messages and letters’ she received as having led to her decision

The New Zealand singer-songwriter Lorde has cancelled a planned concert in Israel following an online campaign by activists opposed to the Israeli occupation of Palestine.

The announcement of the cancellation of the June concert, barely a week after it was announced, came as the singer cited an “overwhelming number of messages and letters” she had received as having led to her decision.

Israel’s culture minister, Miri Regev, called on Lorde to reconsider and she was denounced by pro-Israel supporters on social media.

She follows a number of other artists who have cancelled performances in Israel including Elvis Costello, Lauryn Hill and Gorillaz. Radiohead resisted high-profile campaign asking them to cancel a gig in Israel last summer.

Lorde, 21, whose most recent album Melodrama was released this year, had engaged with critics on social media following her announcement of the tour date, announcing on Twitter that she had been taking advice on the complexities of the political situation and was “considering all options”.

Among those who had contacted her were fellow New Zealanders Nadia Abu-Shanab and Justine Sachs who wrote an open letter to the singer online asking her to cancel her Israel concert.

“Dear Lorde … we’re two young women based in Aotearoa, one Jewish, one Palestinian,” the women wrote.

“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.”

“We can play an important role in challenging injustice today. We urge you to act in the spirit of progressive New Zealanders who came before you and continue their legacy.”

In reply Lorde had said she was considering cancelling.

“Been speaking w many people about this and considering all options. Thank u for educating me i am learning all the time too,” she wrote. On Sunday she announced she had decided not to go ahead with the concert.

In a statement, released by the Israeli public relations firm that had been handling the planned June performance in Tel Aviv, the singer said she had not “made the right call” in initially deciding to play in Israel.

“I 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,” Lorde wrote, adding: “I’m not too proud to admit I didn’t make the right call on this one.”

Eran Arielli of Naranjah, one of the promoters who said fans would be reimbursed, wrote on Facebook following the cancellation that he was “naive to think that an artist of her age would be able to face the pressure of appearing in Israel”.

News of Lorde’s cancellation quickly prompted the intervention of Regev, Israel’s controversial rightwing culture minister.

“Lorde, I’m hoping you can be a ‘pure heroine’ like the title of your first album,” Regev said in a statement. “To be a heroine of pure culture, free from any foreign – and ridiculous – political considerations.”

In the aftermath of her decision the singer garnered both praise and criticism on social media with the pro-Israel lobby organisation StandWithUs accusing Lorde of punishing Israel.

She was also condemned as a “bigot” by the actor Roseanne Barr.

Others praised her decision and the calm way she engaged with the issue.