Monday 8 January 2018

Lorde: Turning The Green Light Red.

Between A Rock And A Hard Place: What possessed Lorde to include Tel Aviv on her 2018 touring schedule? If there is one shark school a young performing artist should avoid at all costs – it’s the Middle East. Put your foot into the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and you may be sure of only one thing: you will be bitten. The smartest move is always to give Israel/Palestine a very wide berth.

“THOSE GREAT WHITES, they have big teeth”, sings Ella Yelich-O’Connor (Lorde) in “Green Light”. Her decisions to play – and then not to play – Tel Aviv are showing how much damage those teeth can inflict. Right now, there’s a lot of blood in the water and, unfortunately, most of it is hers.

How did it come to this? What possessed Lorde to include Tel Aviv on her 2018 touring schedule? If there is one shark school a young performing artist should avoid at all costs – it’s the Middle East. Put your foot into the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and you may be sure of only one thing: you will be bitten. The smartest move is always to give Israel/Palestine a very wide berth.

That’s not so easy, however, when Lucian Grainge, the CEO of your record label, the Universal Music Group (UMG) is the 2013 recipient of the Foundation For Ethnic Understanding’s (FFEU) 2013 Humanitarian Award.

The FFEU was established in 1989 by Rabbi Marc Schneier to promote understanding and reconciliation between Muslims and Jews. Presumably, the decisions of the UMG’s chief executive were seen as contributing significantly to that worthy objective. Presumably, that’s why they honoured him. Presumably, that’s also why building bridges between Israelis and Palestinians is seen as “a good thing” in Lucien Grainge’s UMG.

Did Lorde know about this? When she saw Tel Aviv on her 2018 touring schedule, did her interior moral traffic light flash green or red? Was she reassured that playing Tel Aviv was “a good thing” because it promoted understanding between Muslims and Jews? Did her “people” tell her that the boss of UMG believed very strongly in the power of music to bring people together? Is that why, like that other big UMG star, Elton John, she agreed to perform in Israel?

Standing back from all this, it is difficult not to see Lorde as a pawn in a whole host of people’s games.

As a propaganda tool, the music industry is every bit as effective as the film and television industries – maybe more so. It would be na├»ve in the extreme to think that the Israeli Government and its “assets” in the Jewish diaspora were ignorant of the effect Lorde’s playing Tel Aviv would have had on global opinion. How else to explain their reaction to her green light switching to red?

But, if Lorde has been treated as a pawn by Israel’s friends in the global music industry, her treatment by the ‘Boycott, Disinvest, Sanctions’ (BDS) movement hasn’t been much better.

When the BDS movement discovered Lorde was scheduled to play Tel Aviv, it must have whooped with delight. Here, at the mercy of the social media platforms it has learned to manipulate so ruthlessly, was a young singer-songwriter earnestly committed to doing good in the world. How long would she be able to resist the orchestrated pressures of Twitter, Facebook and Instagram? Not long – as it turned out.

The Great White Sharks are not confined to corporate waters exclusively. The Left have teeth of their own.

Pity is an emotion all-too-easily evoked: and the situation of Palestinians living on the West Bank and Gaza is pitiable in the extreme. That the BDS movement exploits their pitiable circumstances is unsurprising – Public Relations 101.

Beseeching Lorde and her fans to boycott “Apartheid Israel” offers them the opportunity to strike a blow without firing a shot. What young entertainer anxious to prove her progressive credentials is going to turn down an offer to become the John Minto of her generation?

Upon closer inspection, however, the BDS movement is nothing more than a sophisticated front organisation in the service of Palestinian nationalism. Just one more weapon in a war that has been raging since 1947. It’s never been a war for two states in the Holy Land. Rather, it’s been a war to determine who inherits the Holy Land – Jews or Arabs? Sometimes the war’s been fought with fighter-bombers, tanks and artillery; sometimes with martyrs on buses wearing explosive vests; and, yes, sometimes with singer-songwriters like Leonard Cohen, Paul Simon, Nick Cave and Elton John.

The BDS movement hasn’t the slightest chance of defeating the State of Israel, nor of liberating the Palestinians. What it can deliver, however, is the occasional, morale-boosting, Palestinian propaganda victory.

On this occasion, that victory’s collateral damage was Ella Yelich-O’Connor.

This essay was originally published in The Waikato Times, The Taranaki Daily News, The Timaru Herald, The Otago Daily Times and The Greymouth Star of Friday, 5 January 2018.


Unknown said...

One could also ask why anyone would include Russia in her touring schedule but i guess there are still large amounts of people who under absolutely no circumstances will be critical of that country, its human rights record and its commitment to peace around the world !

peteswriteplace said...

Just exactly what I have thought but never expressed in words. The campaign to destroy the Israeli state commenced in a matter of hours from its inception.

peteswriteplace said...


greywarbler said...

I think she is only 20 and is being expected to be as wise as someone twice her age. But Lorde don't take it too hard, it will lessen and if you asked for a statement you can say that it is an area of the world with complex problems. And leave it at that.

And the background Chris thanks, it is complicated, and it seems that one needs to be a little paranoid when considering anything Israeli-connected. We had French agents lurking here, infiltrating pretending they cared about the planet, and they attacked a visiting ship, and as collateral damage, killed a visiting photographer who had the temerity to disagree with them blowing up parts of the world.

That was in 1985, 40 years after the end of WW2 which was staged partly to save France from being over-run by moral degenerates. My father was involved in that effort and is buried in a war cemetery in France, and I am grateful that the fields of crosses are very well cared for I believe. But hey when the defence- method-of-attack madness hits countries and people, gratitude and camaraderie are disposable, and the morality involved becomes questionable.

Polly. said...

Well she stuffed up.
I think the word is gutlessness.
It could be naivety?.
She has let herself down.
She will recover.
I feel sorry for anyone who think she is a good performer.
That's me, I will move on.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Good for her. She made the decision, she'll probably lose money because of it. BDS is simply that – a movement to boycott. You cannot tell people what to do with their own money. Unless you're a communist of course.

Richard Swan – Israel touts itself as a democracy, well in that case it should be held to higher standards. And in fact I don't know of anybody who is somehow afraid to criticise Russia's civil rights record. It's horrifying, particularly if you are gay.

I'm not sure how much of an impression BDS can make, I'm not sure how much the boycott of South Africa contributed to the downfall of Apartheid, but it was definitely a factor. Particularly when banks got scared and refuse to lend the money to make up their deficits. And I think as Israel tends to rely on foreign capital as South Africa did, it's quite possible they could force some form of compromise with the Palestinians absent unconditional US support, which doesn't seem likely though.

David Stone said...

I think Lorde's decision to pull the plug must be seen in the context of Trump's decision to move the US embassy to Jerusalem .
Before that decision was made nothing had materially changed there for years and her performance was pretty neutral in terms of a political statement . But once that announcement had been made it meant that to continue could be seen as supporting that decision, and Netanyahu's claim that it meant Jerusalem was established as a solely Jewish capital. Her decision to withdraw when she did was to my mind justified and did not represent a change of heart but a change of plan in appropriate response to a change in circumstances.

Nick J said...

Going by your standards Richard Swan who would tour anywhere? The USA based upon its internal human rights record, and it's constant waging of wars must be off the agenda too. Bugger, no music.

Neil - ex Otago University 1080's said...

As usual, a zionist supporter misrepresents that case.

A number of people I viewed took it on themselves to point out some facts to Lorde. Facts she may not have been aware of before agreeing to play Israel. Like:
- Israeli Infanticide at Checkpoionts - 35 BABIES and 5 Pregnant women DIED at Israeli Checkpoints in a 7 year period. Treatment of Pregnant women in Contravention to Geneva Conventions.
- Israeli Troops have killed and Maimed a number of Protesters by firing High Velocity Tear Gas Canisters and Rubber Coated Steel Bullets directly into the faces on Protesters. They are meant to be Non Lethal weapons but the IDF uses them to kill and Maim.
- The way Israel "Arrests" (kidnaps) Palestinian children by Kicking in their parents doors at 2am, dragging them out with no parental support, refusing to tell the kids their legal righhts, Interrorgating the kids with NO legal representation, Yelling and usign Physical violence during Investigations, threating the kids with Sexual Assault, Forcing "Confessions" from them and forcing them to sign the "Confession" in a language they do NOT understand. All in contravention of the "Convention on the Rights of the Child".

Maybe Lorde, when appraised of these issues, like any decent person, said No. She would NOT Validate such abusive actions.

Maybe Lorde has a Moral Backbone that Chris Trotter lacks (as these facts are easily found).

My questions is this. Why has Chris trotter decided to speak up Now? Who is Buying Your Lunch Chris?

And who is Chris Trotter.

A friend who knew him at Otago University described Chris as being a man too scared of joining a movement because he may then be asked to actually do something. He waid that Chris likes to sit on the side criticising anyone and everyone working to make things happen. A Mud Slinger who has made that his mode of making a living. . .

PS. My friend who is the most Pacifist person I know said that Chris trotter is the only person he would Knee Cap if he had an opportunity because of his treatment of a number of women in Dunedin way back in the day. He WAS kidding about the Knee Capping. He was NOT Kidding about Trotter and his actions with Women at Otago way back in the 1980's

Charles E said...

She's young and merely a singer. So she knows nothing of these things.
Leave her alone.
Yes the BDS or whatever are just the latest fascists. The Nazis had a similar policy in the 1930s against Jewish businesses.
They are no friends of the Palestinians at all. Their only hope is Israel now. Note that 4000 of them in Jerusalem applied and were accepted as Israelis last year. Voting with their feet and brains. Thereby happily getting Jerusalem as their capital as it happens.

Neil - ex Otago University 1080's said...

Greywarbler - "I think she is only 20 and is being expected to be as wise as someone twice her age"


I was an "Ignorant" support of Israel until I got to about 30 years of age.

I was then challenged on something to do with the 1967 war.

It took about 3 months of careful research and reading around the topic to find out the truth about Israel and its Abuse of the palestinians.

Any Informed person will take the view Lorde has.

Pity I did not get to where she has when I was only 21.

greywarbler said...

Pictures came and broke your heart. 'Video killed the radio star'! We promise to accept all the bad stuff, but don't take our music stuff away.

Victor said...


I think your piece is pretty well-balanced. However, I simply don't find it satisfactory to view this conflict in zero-sum terms.

There are many organisations in Israel and a smaller but increasing number of them on the West Bank that are seeking to build bridges between Israelis and Palestinians. This is the only possible way forward for the region, however hard the road seems at present.

I agree that performing artists inevitably court controversy when appearing in Israel and it might not always be in their own best interests to do so.

But, having agreed to perform in Tel Aviv, Lorde may have been better advised to keep the date and donate the proceeds to Israeli and Palestinian NGOs engaged in monitoring the occupation and in assisting its victims.

Many of these organisations are currently under severe pressure from the Likud-led government and would, no doubt, have appreciated the support.

I don't know if it might also have been possible for her to hold a free concert in Ramallah. If so, that too would have been a good idea.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

I don't think anyone forces people to not spend money on Israel Charles. The Nazis did it by government fiat. That's the way that authoritarian regimes do these things. On the other hand free people are entitled to spend their money wherever they like. Surely you of all people is not in against that? If you are, you're more right wing than I thought.

Nick J said...

Neil I think it speaks volumes that Chris published these accusations. YOu have really put him in a difficult position of losing either way if he publishe s or not. That is a commentary upon you to do something so cowardly.

I find it sad that when people make these accusations they do so from a position where they don't have to put their balls on the block and face the legal consequences. Your "friend" seems conveniently "hidden". So sad Neil. Maybe you should "man up".

greywarbler said...

Reading your diatribe reminds me of the impassioned response of women who adopted the idea of citizen punishment and tied a NZ man to a tree for something they thought he had done. Exaggeration and punitive judgment is something that comes easily to followers of any emotionally-charged doctrine to which they are attached and they feel entitled to smite those who fail to share their dogma and transgress from it. This can be felt by any of us
at some time, and needs to be reined in, with second thoughts.

countryboy said...

I think she's got more intestinal fortitude than all our politicians rolled into one gruesome pot of shit. And entirely more than most of us gutless bastards.
She's young. So what?
She's a performer.
Again, so what?
She's 'involved' in a merciless industry.
So what?
Freezing workers are not?
I'm proud of the kid.
Fuck the Israelis, the cruel, USA pandering, mayhem-for-a-dollar causing, selfish, greedy bastards.
When they went there? Back in 1948? They should have showed some fucking respect. They get all whiny and wheedling when a Palestinian kid throws a stone then retaliate with bombs, bullets, torture, trade embargoes, child murder, the U$A on their side to show 'em how it's done thus Oh My God what profits are made! Oi vey !
If the Israelis want my respect, they can all move to Texas. Next door to the Bush's. Get all A-whoop as they chuck a slab of bullet riddled cow on the petrol powered barbi.
I'm super proud of Lorde, a brave kid. More brave than that Aussie under arm crooner nick cave'd in.

sumsuch said...

Israel is an easy avenue for us to 'enjoy' amid the clenching jaws of our species's reality. Why I'm here. I tick for Palestinians as rightful underdogs.

David Stone said...

Good comment Countryboy.

Victor said...

Not a good comment, Countryboy.

Too much self-indulgent emotional tourism and too much racial stereotyping of the sort that only makes this tragic conflict less tractable.

Hilary Taylor said...

Chris Trotter a 'zionist supporter'! Grinner of the day, if it wasn't so much venomous bile. Lorde was got at, she should never have been put in that position. How could she possibly have an informed opinion, as evidenced by this. That's it.