Last week Demi Lovato made a series of social media posts from Israel, celebrating her experiences there. After a number of people left comments criticizing the singer for legitimizing an apartheid state, Lovato shared a (quickly deleted) apology in which she admitted that she had accepted “a free trip to Israel in exchange for a few posts.”
A week later, we’re still not sure exactly who Lovato was referring to. Ynet’s originally reported that she was paid $150,000 to attend the trip, with a third of it covered by the Israeli government. That piece was later edited to reflect the fact that Lovato didn’t actually receive any money for visiting, but that the trip cost $150,000 overall. Jerusalem Affairs Ministry spokesman Moish Yaul says that the state contributed about $57,000 towards the trip and the rest was provided by private donors.
While Lovato may have accidentally let the cat out of the bag in her apology, the existence of such trips and the organizations that promote them aren’t exactly secret. This past May, Lovato hired Scooter Braun as her manager. In 2018, Braun was honored by Creative Community for Peace, an anti-BDS organization that’s a front for the right-wing StandWithUs. Braun’s Twitter also contains a number of pro-Israel posts, including a declaration of support for the country after the United Nations condemned settlement expansion.
Simple…I stand with peace and I stand with Israel.
— Scooter Braun (@scooterbraun) December 28, 2016
Creative Community for Peace director Ari Ingel told Jewish Insider that his organization wasn’t involved in bringing Lovato to Israel, but he condemned the online response to her trip. “These weren’t her fans leaving messages, these were boycott activists, bots and trolls who were targeting her and her fans, in a successful attempt to turn her influential social media feed into their own bully pulpit,” he told the website, “She took a spiritual trip to Israel, like millions of people every year, from all faiths and backgrounds, and boycott activists hijacked her social media page to turn it into something political.”
That same piece cites industry insiders who point that artists often sign a confidentiality agreements as part of such trips and that Lovato might have deleted her apology post because it violated such an agreement.
Last Friday Lovato’s mom took to social media to defend her daughters trip, which she accompanied her on. “Praying at the Western Wall with my beautiful daughter..in the Old City of Jerusalem was the highlight of my trip to Israel,” she wrote on Instagram, “I will never forget that day… or that trip as we celebrated life and Christianity as we learned about the Jewish faith while listening to the Muslim call to prayer. There was no fighting, no judgement, no cruel words… only love. And I will undoubtedly, unapologetically go again one day.”