Demi Lovato is facing criticism on multiple fronts after her free trip to Israel, paid for by the country’s tourism board. She issued a public apology–but claims that she still doesn’t understand why people were so upset in the first place.
Demi received a free vacay to Israel, courtesy of the Israeli Tourism Board, in return for social media coverage. The singer upheld her part of the bargain, dutifully chronicling her experiences on Instagram with long, thoughtful captions.
At the end of her trip, she wrote, “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.”
The pop star has struggled for years with her mental health and substance abuse issues, with multiple trips to inpatient rehabs, centers for wellness, and even an emergency stay in the hospital last year when she apparently suffered a drug overdose.
If her trip to the Holy Land helped on her journey to recovery, then that should be a good thing… right?
Israel is a hot-button political topic, not just a “magical” tourist destination. Fans and critics alike felt that her social media promotion meant that she was siding with Israel in their long-standing conflict with Palestine. She claims that her trip wasn’t a political statement and that she had no idea anyone would think that way.
“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,” Lovato wrote. “With that being said, I’m sorry if I’ve hurt or offended anyone, that was not my intention.”
While it’s possible that Demi Lovato–a 27-year-old woman–had never heard of the conflict between Israel and Palestine, her team should have considered the possibility of a public backlash.
One of her Instagram posts–which earned over 3 million likes–showed the singer right after her baptism in the Jordan River. Demi said that she’d “never felt more renewed” in her life and that the experience helped her feel more connected to her spiritual side.
It’s become trendy for Christian celebrities to take a dip in the Jordan–the river where Jesus was baptized in the Bible–including TV host Mario Lopez, quarterback Deshaun Watson, and rapper Lecrae.
Even some Christians question whether re-baptism is necessary, while political commentators point out that the location on the West Bank is hugely controversial in the battle between Israel and Palestine.
It’s clear that the baptism had a major effect on the troubled pop star, and it’s understandable that she feels “frustrated” by the backlash.
But even if Demi didn’t mean for her trip to be a political statement, the Israeli Tourism Board used her celebrity status (and access to almost 75 million Instagram followers) as a prop to promote their agenda.
Do you think Demi Lovato should have taken it on herself to be more informed? Or is it no big deal for a celebrity to accept a free vacation in return for social media coverage?