Demi Lovato recently visited Israel. Her 77 million Instagram followers know this because she posted about it several times Wednesday, including one photo-set of herself being baptized in the Jordan River. The caption read, “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. 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.”
As Rolling Stone points out, these posts inspired an outcry from critics of Israel’s occupation of Palestine, who viewed Lovato’s visit, and subsequent promotion of that visit, as a Zionist political statement. Haaretz reporter Allison K. Sommer noted how unusual it was that Lovato’s posts did not disclose who brought her to Israel, while Ynet reported that the Ministry of Jerusalem Affairs and a private donor had paid her $150,000 to visit and post about her trip. So basically she turned her baptism and other moments from her visit into unmarked sponsored content.
Lovato responded to these criticisms in a since-deleted Instagram story:
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 be possibly offending anyone. With that being said, I’m sorry if I’ve 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.
So is that a sorry or a “Sorry Not Sorry”? In related news, the New York Times reports that a number of Instagram influencers are facing backlash for visiting Saudi Arabia. In recent years Nick Cave and Radiohead performed in Israel despite similar complaints, while Lorde cancelled her show after facing protests.
Check out Lovato’s posts about her trip and the ensuing controversy below.
View this post on Instagram
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. 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. 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 💗
Follow-up drama on Demi Lovato’s Instagram page. After being castigated as a Zionist tool – she posted this on her story – and then took it down. pic.twitter.com/4bbMlO0P4F
— Allison K. Sommer (@AllisonKSommer) October 3, 2019