Caving to BDS

"This was meant to be a spiritual experience for me, not a political statement, now I realize it hurt people and for that I’m sorry.”

Demi Lovato visits Western Wall (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Demi Lovato visits Western Wall
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Demi Lovato, the 27-year-old singer, actress and songwriter visited Israel last month.
“There is something absolutely magical about Israel,” she gushed on Instagram. “I’ve never felt such a sense of spirituality or connection to God... something I’ve been missing for a few years now... I’m grateful for the memories made and the opportunity to be able to fill the God-sized hole in my heart. Thank you for having me, Israel.”
Her trip initially seemed to go over well. With more than 74 million followers on Instagram, Lovato posted photos of herself at the Western Wall, being baptized in the Jordan River, touring Yad Vashem, and visiting the Shalva National Center in Jerusalem, which treats children with disabilities.
As soon as she posted about her trip on social media though, the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) backlash began. Angry fans responded with scathing comments that by writing favorably about Israel she was ignoring the plight of the Palestinians and that she should, in fact, boycott Israel like they do.
In one tweet, a critic wrote: “Hey, Demi... actually, you need to read more about the history of this land because it’s called Palestine, not Israel, and the magical feeling that you felt, it’s back to the history of the land (Palestine) not Israel.”
Under pressure, Lovato posted an apology on Instagram: “I’m extremely frustrated. I accepted a free trip to Israel in exchange for a few posts. No one told me there would be anything wrong with going or that I could possibly be offending anyone. With that being said, I’m sorry if I hurt or offended anyone, that was not my intention.”
The former Disney star added: “Sometimes people present you with opportunities and no one tells you the potential backlash you could face in return. This was meant to be a spiritual experience for me, not a political statement, now I realize it hurt people and for that I’m sorry.”
Lovato is just the latest in foreign celebrities who have faced the wrath of Israel’s detractors and caved to supporters of BDS. In 2017, New Zealand singer/songwriter Lorde canceled a planned show in Israel following pressure from BDS activists.
It is understandable that celebrities and performers will want to stay out of a political minefield and seek to take steps that will minimize potential damage to their careers and financial prospects. At the same time though, it is important that they know that by doing so they are playing into the hands, not just of Israel’s adversaries, but also enemies of the West.
Lovato should know that in the US, 26 states have already passed anti-BDS legislation, the last being Kentucky in early September. In May, the German Bundestag ruled in a landmark vote that BDS is antisemitic. It called on governmental bodies not to finance or support any organizations that support BDS or question Israel’s right to exist.
We don’t believe that Lovato is an antisemite but she does need to understand that by backtracking on her praise for Israel, she is playing into the hands of antisemites and forces that seek Israel’s destruction.
By caving to BDS pressure, Lovato let herself be used as a political tool. She backtracked on her praise for Israel out of some distorted sense of solidarity with the Palestinian cause.
It is true that Israel has an unsettled conflict with the Palestinians and this paper is not alone within Israel of calling – repeatedly – on the government to find ways to reengage with the Palestinian Authority and to work toward a solution.
The BDS movement, Lovato should know, does not want peace and is not interested in a two-state solution. It openly seeks the elimination of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people, a right afforded to Israel by the United Nations.
Like Lorde, Lovato has joined the forces that believe the Jewish people do not deserve that right. They hold Israel to a double standard and believe that song line out the Jews is okay and not hypocritical or wrong.
She may have distanced herself from Israel and apologized for visiting here, but she needn’t be “Sorry, not Sorry,” as her famous hit song goes. Israelis might not get to hear her perform anytime soon in Jerusalem or Tel Aviv but they will get to hear Celine Dion next summer. Our hearts, as Dion famously sings, will go on.