2017: 51: 2.2

Dear Juliet Moses,

I disagree with your opinion piece on Stuff, Lorde takes a bow to the bullies (26 December, 2017), for the following reasons:

At the same time as she announced her show in Tel Aviv …[she] also announced dates in Russia. Strangely, despite that country’s human rights abuses, support of the genocidal Assad regime in Syria, and occupation of Crimea, no one called for her to cancel that show or suggested she is a Putin supporter.

I think that is an excellent idea, and hope she considers it because you are right and Putin’s government is appalling.  This does not, however, mean that she is wrong to cancel Tel Aviv, just that she think more widely.

Likewise, she is not accused of complicity with Trump and his policies when she performs in the United States.

I also agree with this point.  America is and has been an appalling sponsor of terrorism around the world for decades.  Perhaps Lorde should be far more proactive in thinking about where she plays in general.

As with New Zealand and every other state, Israel has events in its past of which it should feel ashamed, and it is by no means perfect. But accusing Israel of apartheid, a term that rightly evokes revulsion, is nothing more than slanderous sloganeering that casts a slur on many millions of Jews (and others) around the world who support Israel and says more about the feelings of the person propagating it than the facts.

What you say about the past of every country is true, but we are talking about the present in this case.  Some people very angry about what the Israeli government is doing in the present.  Furthermore, saying that there is a system that is strikingly similar to apartheid in Israel is absolutely not slanderous sloganeering.  It also is not a slur on millions of Jews because, as I said, intelligent people understand that the criticism is directed at the Israeli government and those who support its policies.  I feel that you are slurring millions of Jews by being imprecise with your words.

By all objective measures, [Palestinians] have a far higher standard of living, better healthcare and educational opportunities than in neighbouring countries like Syria, Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon. They are not required to serve in the army, but many choose to do so, increasingly.

In New Zealand we could say that Mäori have a better “standard of living, better healthcare and educational opportunities” than if the Päkehä had not come, and yet they are not free.  Not free to truly be themselves, to control their destiny, to have the land of their ancestors.  Do you know The Tempest by Shakespeare?  There is that wonderful line in it by Caliban whose land was stolen from him: “You taught me language; and my profit on’t is, I know how to curse. The red plague rid you….”  You can give people “gifts” but if they’d rather have their freedom and autonomy they won’t be happy.  I remember seeing a right-wing neo-Nazi explaining to a British man that the African Americans in the USA were better off as a result of slavery.  Just compare the standard of living of an African American to someone living in Africa, he said.  What a preposterous thing to say.  Are the prisoners in jail supposed to thank the prison guard for the new TV in the cell block?  Would they rather be free?

The failure of democracy in territories run by the Palestinian Authority is not good.  That is correct.  That Authority is often given more leeway in international media than it should be, and I have no time whatsoever for those in those territories who use terrorism to further their aims. This comment though is mischievous:

BDS advocates aren’t interested in peace, or rather, they are interested in the sort of peace that the late leader of the Palestinians Yasser Arafat was referring to when he said: “Peace for us means Israel’s destruction and nothing else”.

Considerable progress was made at the end of the first Intifada away from such thinking, and to equate early Arafat with current BDS supporters is, again, lazy and does exactly the opposite of what you say you want: “empathy, dialogue, co-existence, and a recognition that the other has legitimate grievances and rights.”  Omar Barghouti may favour a one state solution but he is a part of a conversation you say you want to have.  Perhaps a one state solution is possible?  If we are keeping all options open, and it does not mean the destruction of anyone, is it actually unthinkable?  Saying the words “one-state” does not, and should not mean you are barred from conversation and called anti-Semitic.

By cancelling, she has given a nod to hatred and hypocrisy… and not made any practical difference to the Palestinians’ predicament.

A nod to hate and hypocrisy?  These are not the words, again, of someone interested in dialogue.  A lot of people support Lorde’s decision.  I support her decision.  I am not filled with hatred.  Not for you, or for people who are Jewish.  I have a deep respect for the culture of Judaism, its intellectual history, and its long tradition of wrestling with the angels of the spiritual side of man and woman.  I do, however, stand totally against those people who create, maintain and enforce the laws that weigh so heavily on the Palestinian people and render many of their lives almost unlivable in the land of their ancestors.

A boycott seeks to put non-violent pressure on an organisation to come to the table and talk.  My issue is with the policy of the Israeli government, but I am against violence, coercion and wrongful imprisonment whoever does it, so I am also against extremist groups on the Palestinian side.  I believe, and I understand that you disagree with me, that Lorde has taken a significant step in her own personal life to try and add to the weight of pressure seeking a shift in policy from the Israeli government and I commend her for it.