After backlash over a trip to Israel, singer and actress Demi Lovato apologized for offending anyone and implied that the visit was gifted to her in exchange for complimentary social media posts about the country. Lovato reportedly received $150,000 for the trip, with some of it coming from the Jerusalem Ministry. While it is unclear who organized the tour, Lovato recently hired a new pro-Israel manager who has been honored by an anti-BDS organization.
On October 1 the singer posted a series of photos from Israel, including one where she’s being baptized in the Jordan River. “I am an American singer. I was raised Christian and have Jewish ancestors. When I was offered an amazing opportunity to visit the places I’d read about in the bible growing up, I said yes. There is something absolutely magical about Israel,” she wrote under the post, “I’ve never felt such a sense of spirituality or connection to God…something I’ve been missing for a few years now. Spirituality is so important to me…to be baptized in the Jordan river—the same place Jesus was baptized—I’ve never felt more renewed in my life.”
According to Ynet’s Ran Boker, Lovato was paid over $150,000 to visit the country. Some of that money apparently came from the Jerusalem Ministry with additional funds secured by private benefactors. While Lovato asserted that the trip was “free”, this means at least some of it was financed by Israeli taxpayers.
הזמרת והשחקנית דמי לובאטו שהגיעה בשבוע שעבר לישראל – קיבלה יותר מ-150 אלף דולר כדי להגיע ארצה, כך לפי גורמים המעורבים בביקור. המשרד לענייני ירושלים שבראשו עומד השר זאב אלקין, השתתף במימון ב-200 אלף שקלים לדבריהם. השאר – מגורם פרטי. הפרטים ב-ynet
— Ran Boker רן בוקר (@ranboker) October 3, 2019
The posts prompted a deluge of pro-Palestine comments by social media users. After the backlash, Lovato deleted them all and turned off the comment option on the photos. She then shared an apology in the form of an Instagram Story, which was quickly deleted:
I’m extremely frustrated. 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. With that being said, I’m sorry if I hurt or offended anyone, that was not my intention. Sometimes people present you with opportunities and no one tells you the potential backlash you could face in return. This was meant to be a spiritual experience for me NOT A POLITICAL STATEMENT and now I realize it hurt people and for that I’m sorry. Sorry I’m not more educated, and sorry for thinking this trip was just a spiritual experience. Going against all advice right now and apologizing because it feels right to me and I’d 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.
“US pop star Demi Lovato has apologized after being recruited to whitewash Israel’s far-right apartheid regime,” tweeted the official account of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI), “…Like apartheid South Africa, Israel and its lobby groups spend millions to art-wash oppression.”
US pop star Demi Lovato has apologized after being recruited to whitewash Israel's far-right apartheid regime.
Lovato wrote: "I realize it hurt people and for that I’m sorry".
Like apartheid South Africa, Israel and its lobby groups spend millions to art-wash oppression. pic.twitter.com/3LZDZGVkPN
— PACBI (@PACBI) October 3, 2019
It’s difficult to know who Lovato is referring to when she asserts that she went “against all advice” to apologize, but in May she hired Scooter Braun as her new manager. Just a couple months after the hire, Braun made headlines for being the subject of a scathing social media post by Taylor Swift who accused him of “incessant, manipulative bullying.”
Last year, Braun was honored as an “Ambassador of Peace” at the annual Creative Community for Peace (CCFP) gala. CCFP is an anti-BDS organization and a front for the right-wing pro-Israel group StandWithUs. The organization encourages musical acts to visit Israel against the protests of BDS activists who criticize such performances. “The best way to change the world is to have an open, honest dialogue for peace and understanding on all sides,” Braun told Variety at the time.
Thank you Demi Lovato 🇮🇱
The US pop singer is on a cultural trip to the country to explore her Christian and Jewish heritage. pic.twitter.com/kJERiZhZr4
— StandWithUs (@StandWithUs) October 2, 2019
Braun has been vocal for the pro-Israel support in the past. After the United Nations adopted a Security Council Resolution condemning Israeli settlement activity in December 2016, Braun tweeted, “Simple…I stand with peace and I stand with Israel.”
Simple…I stand with peace and I stand with Israel.
— Scooter Braun (@scooterbraun) December 28, 2016