Unpacking How BDS Pressure Swayed Lana Del Rey
The momentum is spreading fast
Sarah Ben Romdane
This past month, the people-led BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement has succeeded in encouraging several artists to withdraw from performing in Israel as a form of protest against the Israeli government’s policies.
Caribou, The Black Madonna, Four Tet, Ben UFO and countless other international artists have expressed their support for Palestine by posting the hashtag #DJsForPalestine with a statement saying, “As long as the Israeli government continues its brutal and sustained oppression of the Palestinian people, we respect their call for a boycott of Israel as a means of peaceful protest against the occupation”.
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#DJsForPalestine my personal history on this issue is that i travelled to play at The Block in Tel Aviv in 2013. i made several friends there, who i’ve stayed in touch with, and who i spoke with about the cultural boycott of Israel after i decided to decline further invitations to play. i wasn’t well informed then, and my experience of travelling there was what gave me the impetus to read and learn more. my feeling since my first visit has been that while Palestinian civil society calls for a boycott, showing solidarity with their cause is worth more to me than travelling to play a show. this has been my position since 2013. having been asked to participate in this campaign, i felt it would be dishonest to continue to say nothing. i’m still really hopeful that one day i’ll be able to play in Israel again. to those who ask why this boycott is selective and only applies to one state, I would say that if a comparable situation existed elsewhere in the world, and a boycott had been called by the affected oppressed class of people, then i would respect that too. for me this is primarily an issue of solidarity, and an exercise in listening. my position on this issue is part of a more general politics of anti-racism, which i hope that i can live up to.
Following the announcement of Lana Del Rey’s presence on the line up, the BDS movement shared a petition that gathered over 14,500 signatures pressuring Del Rey to cancel her appearance. After initially defending her presence at Tel Aviv’s Meteor Festival in August by explaining that her performance wasn’t a political statement, the singer finally cancelled her concert, which was scheduled on September 7.
— Lana Del Rey (@LanaDelRey) 31 août 2018
Ex-Pink Floyd member, Roger Waters, who has been supporting BDS for a while now has also been pressuring the artist on social media, with a Facebook post saying that Lana performing would be “a political act in support of the apartheid state that would deny [Palestinians] basic human rights. Even if in your heart of hearts you believe yourself to be neutral”.
The non-violent movement—which was founded in 2005 by Palestinian NGOs and inspired by the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa—has been encouraging people around the world to boycott businesses and academic and cultural institutions that have affiliation with Israel in order to pressure the Israeli state to respect international law and UN resolutions.