By Melissa Mora
Following the pop star’s overdose, Demi Lovato has made her best effort to stay off of what we can all agree is the most toxic place in the world: social media.
Lovato has been gone from Twitter since February and rarely posts on Instagram, with the exception of special occasions. One of those exceptions being a trip to Israel, where her ancestry traces back to.
On Tuesday, Oct. 1, Lovato made three posts on Instagram about the trip. Two of them being from historical establishments that she visited﹣Israel’s Holocaust museum, Yad Vashem, and Jerusalem’s Salva Center, a non-profit that provides service to Israelis with special needs. However, it was the image in which she proudly shows off her baptism in the Jordan River that gained the most attention.
She made it clear in her caption just how important it was for her to be baptized at the same place as Jesus, and what it meant for her spirituality and connection to God. What was intended to be a spiritual trip turned into a political internet controversy, much to Lovato’s surprise.
Though her intentions behind not only the photos, but the trip itself, were seemingly pure, that’s not the way it came across to the public eye. Within the heartfelt caption of the photo, Lovato heavily praised the country of Israel for what it personally represents for her; she described it as “magical”. Almost immediately, the comments were flooded with upset fans.
Lovato’s Muslim fans were the most upset, and even heartbroken. They couldn’t believe that the person they looked up to most was showing support towards a country that has caused so much harm to their people. It felt like a betrayal for them. In an attempt to defend themselves, they started the hashtag #FreePalestine.
The backlash did not only come from her fans who she calls Lovatics, but from critics of the Israeli occupation of Palestine. Lovato was called a Zionist for accepting to go on the trip while failing to acknowledge the denoting political circumstances.
Just a few hours later, she began to reply to comments. “Okay but do y’all realize, I don’t have an opinion on middle eastern conflicts nor is it my place to have one being an American singer and you’re asking me to choose a side?” Lovato responded. “I went to a place, for religious purposes, THAT’S IT.” It was later reported by an Israeli newspaper that Lovato had been paid $150K by the Ministry of Jerusalem Affairs to partake in the trip and post content.
It wasn’t very long before she had disabled the comments on all three of her posts. That’s what infuriated her Lovatics the most. They claimed that Lovato was aware of her wrong-doings and simply chose to ignore it. “Demi Lovato turning off Instagram comments on her Israel posts on Instagram is a manifestation of willful ignorance, it’s disgusting,” a Twitter user stated.
To Lovato’s devoted fans, it seemed as though she didn’t even want to take the time to educate herself about the situation. Instead of trying to understand how her actions had hurt so many people, she blocked them from being able to follow her on Instagram and shared a lengthy text post to her story.
She expressed her frustration and attempted to apologize. “I’m sorry if I’ve hurt or offended anyone, that was not my intention,” posted Lovato. “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.”
It may seem like Lovato had no one on her side by the looks of everything being said about her online. However, as a contrasting opinion, someone tweeted, “If you’re criticizing Demi Lovato for her Israel trip, and judging by the comments made on her Instagram, many are, please note that your disgusting comments on her visiting special needs children says far, far more about you than her. Not everything is political.”
Lovato may not have entirely understood the extent of the matter, but she should’ve handled it much better. One doesn’t necessarily need to choose a side, but to remain silent about something so significant to the people who have supported you for years, is to side with the oppressor.
Melissa Mora can be reached at Melissa.firstname.lastname@example.org