Lorde’s stand on Israel does her credit

[This is truly remarkable!

As one Lorde fan recently wrote: Oh Lorde!

The largest-circulation newspaper in New Zealand is not just defending in the editorial below Lorde’s decision to cancel her Tel Aviv gig, heeding appeals from her fans and BDS activists. It is defending the right to adopt the peaceful tactics of BDS to end Israel’s occupation and international law violations, and it compares BDS for Palestinian rights to the global boycott movement that supported the struggle against apartheid South Africa.

It calls out the Israeli regime for plagiarizing some of its most common anti-BDS arguments from the propaganda playbook of the apartheid regime in South Africa.

Phan Nguyen was arguably the first — as far as I can tell — to brilliantly research and expose several aspects of this propaganda plagiarism in this article in Mondoweiss (highly recommended).

Another beautiful article on Lorde’s cancellation is penned by Yousef Munayyer, director of the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights. You can read it here.

From all the positive coverage of Lorde’s refusal to be complicit in art-washing Israel’s brutal crimes against the Palestinian people, one has to agree with the conclusion of Yuval Ben-Ami, an Israeli author who wrote a book on Lorde. He told Newsweek:

“Several other great artists have canceled, [but Lorde] appears to be the first of her generation, and that’s meaningful. 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.”

I wish you all a happier, most just and peaceful new year!

Omar Barghouti]

New Zealand Herald’s editorial – Lorde may have been young when she first scaled the heights of popular music — and she still is — but as her songs demonstrate, she can think. To suggest that in cancelling a concert in Israel she has “caved into pressure”, as the Zionist Federation of New Zealand put it, does her an injustice.

She may now wish Tel Aviv had never been included in her world tour next year but, once it was, she could not escape criticism. The easier course for her would have been to ignore the critics and keep her schedule. She could have insisted she was simply an entertainer innocent of politics and world affairs. The criticism, largely confined to social media, would have subsided in a day or two.

But by reflecting on the issues and deciding to remove the concert from her itinerary, she has exposed herself to wider attack and more unpleasant insinuations from some of Israel’s defenders.

The Zionist Federation accused her of succumbing to pressure “from those who wish to see the destruction of Israel” and added, “If Lorde is cancelling her Tel Aviv concert due to a political reason, then we assume she will soon be announcing the cancellation of her Russian concerts due to Russia’s occupation of the Crimea, its support of Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria and other human rights abuses. Not doing so would reek of bigotry and prejudice against the Jewish State.”

What 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 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. It is the weakest argument a nation’s defenders can make. It says the nation is guilty, but so are others. It is an admission Israel’s settlements are wrong. Not even the Israeli Government endorses them, though it does little to stop them. The further the settlements go and the more entrenched they become, the more difficult a two-state solution will be.

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.

Peace almost certainly requires a Palestinian state on the West Bank of the Jordan — one that acknowledges Israel’s right to exist. The alternative is for Israel to survive in a permanent state of siege, a prospect which perhaps too many Israelis now find preferable to a Palestinian state they would not trust. Hence the settlements.

But unresolved tensions in the Middle East are not simply Israel’s concern. Such tensions impose themselves on the world through wars, threats to oil supplies, nuclear ambitions and terrorism.

No peace is imaginable without Palestinians being treated fairly, not driven from their homes by bulldozers. 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.