Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council

Media Microscope: Oh, Lorde.

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Allon Lee


New Zealand singer Lorde's announcement she was backing the BDS movement call to cancel an upcoming Tel Aviv concert likely won more coverage than it might have done if it had happened outside the Christmas/New Year period.

The Daily Telegraph (Dec. 26) contrasted her cancellation with the "two excellent reasons" Australian "rock icon Nick Cave" gave for recently "touring a nation... so vilified"- namely "‘I love... Israeli people... and... to make a principled stand against anyone who wants to censor and silence musicians.'"

News' James Morrow accused "progressives" like Lorde of making up their minds "according to a grievance hierarchy" ...and asked why when there are "lots of occupations, illegal or otherwise" including Turkey's illegal occupation of northern Cyprus since 1974 and China's rule over Tibet since 1950, "you never hear of a performer being hectored out of playing Istanbul or Shanghai," Courier Mail/Daily Telegraph (Dec. 27).

Daily Telegraph columnist Piers Akerman called her "juvenile" (Dec. 31), accusing her of "an astounding level of ignorance in cancelling an appearance in... the only democracy in the Middle East."

Noting that she had advertised the Tel Aviv concert on Twitter alongside Russian gigs, the Australian's Dec. 28 "Cut & Paste" quoted media reports on how in Russia elections are rigged so President Vladimir Putin always wins, homosexuals are arrested and tortured, and extrajudicial killings and disappearances occur.

On Dec. 27, the West Australian ran a Washington Post-sourced op-ed noting that the BDS movement's goal is to get "Israel to end its occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip and allow Palestinians to return to places they left when Israel was created in 1948." Actually, Gaza's occupation ended in 2005, something even senior Hamas officials acknowledge. Meanwhile, enforcing a so-called right of return for millions of Palestinians is BDS's not so secret way to achieve Israel's elimination.

On ABC Radio "Breakfast" (Jan. 1), Jerusalem Post's Amy Spiro noted the hypocrisy of announcing tour dates for Russia which is "not known for its human rights record [and which] certainly has a military presence in Ukraine that people have a problem with... but... nobody...had any problem with those shows." The program included pro-Palestinian activist Mona Abu Zalaf accusing Israel of practicing apartheid in Israel and the Palestinian territories. She said, "we are not against Israel itself" and that Israelis who "miss out on a concert is not the same as missing out on medicine... food... basic necessities... freedom of movement."

In 2017, Hamas and Fatah used food, electricity, freedom of movement and medicine as weapons against each other in a struggle over control of Gaza. Interestingly, Abu Zalaf said nothing about that.

An ABC online backgrounder (Jan. 2) said BDS's aim is to "pressure Israel to end its occupation of the territory Palestinians seek for a state." As noted, that is not its only aim.

In the Age (Dec. 28), Karl Quinn summarised the arguments for and against, writing, "it's not just that some of those artists who have shunned Israel... see no issue in dealing with other countries whose governments are far from blameless. Russia, for instance, is still on the cards for both Lorde and [high profile pro-BDS activist Roger] Waters, despite its record of human rights abuses and suspicions of meddling in other countries' elections."

He added that "If you're going to boycott every country with a dubious record, how about adding the United States to the list?... it is guilty of targeted political assassinations, installing puppet regimes in foreign countries, and exporting Mariah Carey's music to the world." Other problematic countries he listed included Australia for the poverty in remote indigenous communities and its "treatment of refugees."

Quinn's acknowledgement that "some within the BDS movement think the state of Israel has no right to exist at all" appeared online but not in the paper.

Online (Jan. 10), Ben Groundwater, Fairfax travel writer, declared his love of both Israel and the Palestinian territories but added "surely it's the Palestinians who are suffering?". He said ordinary people shouldn't boycott Israel because it has little impact and should instead visit to "judge it for what it is, rather than what you've been told." But, oddly he backed the decision by Lorde, a famous person who hasn't visited, because with eight million Twitter followers, a boycott might "mean something."

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