Lorde may have been young when she first scaled the heights of popular music — and she still is — but as her songs demonstrate, she can think. To suggest that in cancelling a concert in Israel she has "caved into pressure", as the Zionist Federation of New Zealand put it, does her an injustice.

She may now wish Tel Aviv had never been included in her world tour next year but, once it was, she could not escape criticism. The easier course for her would have been to ignore the critics and keep her schedule. She could have insisted she was simply an entertainer innocent of politics and world affairs. The criticism, largely confined to social media, would have subsided in a day or two.

But by reflecting on the issues and deciding to remove the concert from her itinerary, she has exposed herself to wider attack and more unpleasant insinuations from some of Israel's defenders.

The Zionist Federation accused her of succumbing to pressure "from those who wish to see the destruction of Israel" and added, "If Lorde is cancelling her Tel Aviv concert due to a political reason, then we assume she will soon be announcing the cancellation of her Russian concerts due to Russia's occupation of the Crimea, its support of Bashar al-Assad's regime in Syria and other human rights abuses. Not doing so would reek of bigotry and prejudice against the Jewish State."


What rubbish. It is perfectly possible to oppose Jewish settlements on the West Bank, as indeed many Jews do, in Israel and outside, without being guilty of bigotry and prejudice.

The suggestion Israel should not be singled out when countries such as Russia are guilty of something similar is an argument New Zealanders often heard from defenders of South Africa in the apartheid era. It is the weakest argument a nation's defenders can make. It says the nation is guilty, but so are others. It is an admission Israel's settlements are wrong. Not even the Israeli Government endorses them, though it does little to stop them. The further the settlements go and the more entrenched they become, the more difficult a two-state solution will be.

Sporting and cultural boycotts and campaigns for business disinvestment and international sanctions against Israel are a way of reminding public opinion in Israel the world needs Israel to keep striving for peace in its region.

Peace almost certainly requires a Palestinian state on the West Bank of the Jordan — one that acknowledges Israel's right to exist. The alternative is for Israel to survive in a permanent state of siege, a prospect which perhaps too many Israelis now find preferable to a Palestinian state they would not trust. Hence the settlements.

But unresolved tensions in the Middle East are not simply Israel's concern. Such tensions impose themselves on the world through wars, threats to oil supplies, nuclear ambitions and terrorism.

No peace is imaginable without Palestinians being treated fairly, not driven from their homes by bulldozers. Cultural figures such as Lorde are in a privileged position to give that message and New Zealand can be proud of her for doing so.