American singer-songwriter, Lana Del Rey, is set to perform in Israel as part of the line up for the inaugural Meteor Festival, which will take place from September 6 to September 8.
Ever since the announcement of her involvement with the festival, the ‘Born to Die’ singer has faced a huge backlash online with thousands of her own fans urging her to pull out of the show and take part in the cultural boycott of the country.
In response, she tweeted out on Sunday (19th) defending her decision to join the event.
“I understand your concern, I really do. What I can tell you is I believe music is universal and should be used to bring us together.” she said
“…..and my plan was for it to be done [with] a loving energy with a thematic emphasis on peace.”
“If you don’t agree with it I get it. I see both sides. We don’t always agree with the politics of the places we play within or even in our own country.” continued Del Rey, who had stopped using the American flag visuals in her shows because of President Trump’s “politics and inhumane actions”
“I would like to remind you that performing in Tel Aviv is not a political statement or a commitment to the politics there”
(Despite her reference to the city of Tel Aviv, the Meteor festival is scheduled to take place at Kibbutz Lehavot Habashan in the Upper Galilee region.)
The Palestine Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) issued a statement in response: “We urge you to reconsider. We doubt that you would have played in apartheid South Africa; likewise, artists refuse to play in apartheid Israel.”
After this statement, Del Rey remained silent for 3 days throughout which she was heavily criticized for her neutrality and naivety.
Music is universal but not neutral. pic.twitter.com/TowRYPuu5H
— Safiya (@saf_iyaa) August 19, 2018
I need the confidence of Lana Del Rey thinking her music is good enough to bring Israelis and Palestinians together
— Rumaysaa (@Rumy_L) August 20, 2018
Palestinians : were being murdered on a regular basis. Please don’t support the state that is killing us.
— aisha (@alllllidoisrant) August 19, 2018
But she can't ditch apartheid money lol https://t.co/nGesnVCcy3
— #KillImperialists2K18 (@SovietGuacamole) August 20, 2018
You’re giving an illegal and criminal state validation by performing on occupied land. You do not “understand both sides” because one side is watching its children being massacred while the other gets to watch you perform.
— Firas Haidar (@FirasHaidar) August 20, 2018
The hashtag ‘LanaDontGo’ started trending as well with people from all over the world urging Del Rey to step down and cancel.
Lana Del Rey,
My cousin was protesting for his rights in #Gaza. An Israeli soldier shot him with an explosive bullet that led him to complete paralysis forever! Over 170 unarmed Palestinian protesters were killed by them. #LanaDontGo. Cancel your concert in Israel, please.
— Abdalrahim M Alfarra #Gaza (@AbdalrahimFarra) August 20, 2018
Sorry to break it to you @LanaDelRey, but 'loving energy' isn't going to end apartheid. #LanaDontGo! Your performance will be used to whitewash Israeli violence and repression. https://t.co/oXlMAYDEIo
— CODEPINK (@codepink) August 20, 2018
We understand hun but this is bigger than what you think. Joining the boycott and cancelling would make be big step forwards. This festival is funded by the government and is used to show the world that the israel is peaceful and open when it’s held on illegal lands #LANADONTGO
— poe (@artxdeco) August 19, 2018
Musician and former Pink Floyd member, Roger Walters, wrote Lana on Facebook to “clear a couple of things up”, imploring her and any other act expected to take part to reconsider their position. He also argues that Del Rey’s neutrality and willingness to perform is “a political act in support of the apartheid state that would deny them those basic human rights”
Only Today did the ‘Lust for Life’ singer reply to Walters as she re-addressed the issue in an Instagram post.
“My views on democracy and oppression are aligned with most liberal views,” she wrote. “We will still be playing our show in Israel.”
Del Rey also said that she’ll be “visiting Palestine” and “playing music for everyone” as she “wants peace for both Israel and Palestine.”
PACBI called Del Rey out in a final statement this morning, thanking her for “engaging”. They ask her for “meaningful solidarity and not charity” referring to her offer of going to Palestine.
“We would welcome you to Palestine should you cancel your Meteor performance,” the organization wrote. “But we cannot accept your token gesture as you step across our boycott picket line.”
.@LanaDelRey, thank you for engaging.
Inspired by the struggle of black South Africans during apartheid, Palestinians are asking for meaningful solidarity — not charity — as we resist Israel’s decades-long oppression. pic.twitter.com/vGSVFIFhp6
— PACBI (@PACBI) August 21, 2018
Furthermore, Del Rey is not the first artist to face such scrutiny as performing anywhere near the occupation is highly politicized. Only last year, the New Zealand singer Lorde was put in the same position.
Lorde had booked a concert in Tel Aviv but eventually cancelled saying: aying: “I didn’t make the right call on this one.” Her decision was supported in an open letter by musicians including Brian Eno, Peter Gabriel and Roger Waters.
There are other who, unlike Lorde, went ahead and performed their shows anyway, like the band Radiohead, whose lead singer Thom Yorke argued that “playing in a country isn’t the same as endorsing its government.”
What do you think of the cultural boycott? What are your thoughts on Lana’s actions? Please tell us in the comments!