Lana Del Rey defends decision to perform in Israel: 'Music is universal'

American singer says she does not necessarily support governments in countries in which she performs

Lana Del Rey has defended her decision to perform at Meteor festival in Israel next month, in defiance of calls from other musicians for a cultural boycott of the country.

The American pop singer tweeted: “I believe music is universal and should be used to bring us together … Performing in Tel Aviv is not a political statement or a commitment to the politics there, just like singing here in California doesn’t mean my views are in alignment w[ith] my current government’s opinions or sometimes inhuman actions.”

She intended to perform “with a loving energy with a thematic emphasis on peace”, she said, adding: “I’m doing my best to navigate the waters of the constant tumultuous hardships in the war-torn countries all over the world that I travel through monthly.”

The Palestine Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel 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.”

Performing in Israel remains highly politicised, with many arguing that its military action in Palestine is egregious enough to warrant a boycott. The New Zealand pop star Lorde was criticised for booking a concert in Tel Aviv, and backed down after “a lot of discussions with people holding many views”, saying: “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, plus other critics of Israel such as Ken Loach, Angela Davis, John Cusack and more.

But other musicians have, like Del Rey, defended their decision to perform. In November 2017, Nick Cave said he was making “a principled stand against anyone who tries to censor and silence musicians” and complained of “a sort of public humiliation from Roger Waters and co” for those who do choose to play in Israel.

Radiohead went ahead with a concert in Tel Aviv in July 2017, with Thom Yorke arguing that “playing in a country isn’t the same as endorsing its government … We don’t endorse Netanyahu any more than Trump, but we still play in America.

“Music, art and academia is about crossing borders not building them; about open minds, not closed ones; about shared humanity, dialogue and freedom of expression.”


Ben Beaumont-Thomas

The GuardianTramp

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