Pop & Hiss

Lauryn Hill cancels Israel concert after bungled Nigeria date

'I've wanted very much to bring our live performance...but also to be a presence supporting justice and peace'

Lauryn Hill's current international tour is a relatively short one, but it's already run into more than its fair share of snags. 

First her camp had to cancel a last-minute date in Lagos, Nigeria, over the weekend due to a travel snafu. (An apology video with a charming acoustic cover of "Doo-Wop [That Thing]" helped to ease the disappointment.)

Now, the singer has canceled a stop in Tel Aviv slated for later this week. Originally stops had been planned for both Tel Aviv and the Palestinian city of Ramallah.

But Israeli tour dates are often contentious issues for Western pop artists, especially ones as politically outspoken as Hill.

So after the Ramallah date fell through, Hill decided she needed to cancel that whole leg of her tour, including a May 7 Tel Aviv date, out of respect for both sides of that territorial and governance conflict.

In a note on her official Facebook page, Hill wrote that she hopes to make up both dates in the future.

"Dear Friends and Fans in Israel," she wrote. "When deciding to play the region, my intention was to perform in both Tel Aviv and Ramallah. Setting up a performance in the Palestinian Territory, at the same time as our show in Israel, proved to be a challenge. I've wanted very much to bring our live performance to this part of the world, but also to be a presence supporting justice and peace. It is very important to me that my presence or message not be misconstrued, or a source of alienation to either my Israeli or my Palestinian fans. For this reason, we have decided to cancel the upcoming performance in Israel, and seek a different strategy to bring my music to ALL of my fans in the region. May healing, equanimity, and the openness necessary for lasting resolution and reconciliation come to this region and its people. Respectfully, Ms. Lauryn Hill."

Given the ongoing conflicts with Palestinians, touring in Israel is a fraught issue for many musicians. Roger Waters, the Pink Floyd bassist and co-founder, has led a drive for musicians to boycott Israel on concert tours, and was inspired to do so by the British violinist Nigel Kennedy's similar criticism. Acts including Elvis Costello and Annie Lennox have pledged to avoid playing there until lasting progress is made on territorial issues. (Other cancellations in the last year have included the Backstreet Boys, Cee Lo Green and Megadeth.)

"It is incredible to see Ms. Hill respond so positively to our grassroots campaign," read a statement from Sasha Gelzin, of the U.S. Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel, which helped organize efforts to persuade Hill to cancel her show. "Many engaged with social justice movements in the United States adore her music, since she speaks powerfully to oppression and injustice. When connections are being made by people in the streets between struggles here and in Palestine, like in Baltimore and Ferguson, we are so grateful that Ms. Hill is making those connections too.”

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