Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 22 October 2019

'It was not meant to be a political statement': Demi Lovato apologises for Israel visit amid backlash from fans

'I'm sorry if I've hurt or offended anyone', says the singer, after inciting anger with her free trip

Demi Lovato has been criticised by fans for visiting Israel, with no mention of Palestine in her coverage of the trip. Reuters
Demi Lovato has been criticised by fans for visiting Israel, with no mention of Palestine in her coverage of the trip. Reuters

Demi Lovato has issued an apology for visiting Israel, after her social media posts praising the country sparked a backlash with fans.

The American singer and actress travelled to Jerusalem last month, and shared images from her trip on Instagram this week.

The 27-year-old turned off comments on the three posts, in which she called the country "magical", after widespread criticism for her lack of acknowledging Israel's occupation of Palestinian territories.

Lovato took to her social media page on Wednesday to apologise for her actions, saying she did not intend to "hurt or offend anyone".

"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," the Stone Cold singer wrote. "With that being said, I'm sorry if I've hurt or offended anyone, that was not my intention."

Lovato added that she had not been warned about the "potential backlash" her trip would cause.

"This was meant to be a spiritual journey for me, not a political statement and I now realise it hurt people and for that I’m sorry," she wrote. "Sorry I’m not more educated, and sorry for thinking this trip was just a spiritual experience."

During her visit, the singer was baptised in the Jordan River, an experience she described on Instagram as "renewing".

"When I was offered an amazing opportunity to visit the places I’d read about in the Bible growing up, I said yes," she earlier wrote, alongside images of her visit. "This trip has been so important for my well-being, my heart, and my soul. 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."

The singer also shared images from Yad Vashem, Israel's memorial for victims of the Holocaust, and a disability centre.

Many fans have declared the singer as "cancelled" on Twitter, a pop culture term to describe no longer supporting a person or movement.

Others denounced the singer for failing to acknowledge the plight of Palestinians under occupation, ignoring their oppressed human rights, and for "glorifying" Israeli violence with her supportive messages.

In her apology, Lovato said speaking out went against advice, but she would "rather get in trouble for being authentic to myself than staying quiet to please other people". "I love my fans, all of them, from all over the world," she added.

Controversy over celebrity trips

The singer is not the first to be criticised for visiting Israel in recent months; both Madonna and Jennifer Lopez faced backlash after performing in the country.

Activists, celebrities and cultural figures from around the world petitioned Madonna to cancel her appearance at the Eurovision Song Contest, held in Tel Aviv in May, but the 61-year-old went ahead with the show.

In January, a group of famed British figures, including designer Vivienne Westwood, director Mike Leigh and singer Peter Gabriel, signed a letter calling on the BBC to cancel its coverage of the contest.

“Eurovision may be light entertainment, but it is not exempt from human rights considerations – and we cannot ignore Israel’s systematic violation of Palestinian human rights,” it read. “The BBC is bound by its charter to ‘champion freedom of expression’. It should act on its principles and press for Eurovision to be relocated to a country where crimes against that freedom are not being committed."

Lopez's performance in Egypt in August, meanwhile, resulted in calls from an Egyptian group supporting the Israeli boycott to cancel the show.

The Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions group said the singer “clearly shows support for the occupying state and its racist policies towards Palestinians”, after performing in Tel Aviv earlier that month.

Updated: October 3, 2019 02:01 PM

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