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$17k fine for Lorde Israel boycott organisers

In a "precedent-setting ruling", two New Zealanders have been ordered to pay a total of ₪56,000 for their part in the cancellation of a Lorde show in Tel Aviv

By Jon Chapple on 12 Oct 2018


image © Krists Luhaers

Two New Zealand women who allegedly influenced Lorde to cancel a planned show in Tel Aviv have been ordered to pay ₪45,000 (US$12,400) in damages by an Israeli court.

Nadia Abu-Shanab, a Palestinian Arab, and Justine Sachs, a Jew – both members of the anti-Israel boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement – were sued by Shurat HaDin, an Israeli NGO, in January under Israel’s 2011 anti-boycott law, which makes it a civil offence to call for an economic, cultural or academic boycott against a person or entity because of any perceived affiliation to Israel.

Abu-Shanab and Sachs wrote an open letter to Lorde saying that if the New Zealand singer played the June show it “would be seen as giving support to the policies of the Israeli government, even if you make no comment on the political situation”. Lorde later axed the gig, saying she “had a lot of discussions with people holding many views, and I think the right decision at this time is to cancel the show.”

On Wednesday (10 October), Jerusalem magistrate’s court judge Mirit Fohrer ruled that Sachs and Abu-Shanab must pay ₪15,000 to each of the three young Lorde fans named, who had bought tickets to the planned concert. The suit claims the trio’s “artistic welfare” was harmed by the cancellation, as was their leisure time “and, above all, damage to their good name as Israelis and Jews”, according to the Jerusalem Post.

“This is a precedent-setting ruling according to the boycott law,” says Shurat HaDin president Nitsana Darshan-Leitner said Thursday. “This decision makes it clear that anyone who calls for a boycott against the state of Israel could find themselves liable for damages and need to pay compensation to those hurt by the boycott call, if they’re in Israel or outside it.”

“This decision makes it clear that anyone who calls for a boycott against the state of Israel could find themselves liable for damages”

Abu-Shanab and Sachs were also ordered to pay ₪11,000 (US$3,000) in legal fees.

Although Israel and New Zealand have legal agreements that will allow the court of pursue the damages, the defendants have said they will refuse to pay.

Writing on the Spinoff blog, they say: “Our advice from New Zealand legal experts has been clear: Israel has no right to police the political opinions of people across the world. They also continue to believe that this is a stunt of which the sole intention is to intimidate Israel’s critics. We agree but are heartened by their advice.

“We’ve contacted the relevant people in our government in the hope they can make it clear that New Zealand will not stand by and allow Israel to attempt to bully its citizens.”

Darshan-Leitner, however, is confident that won’t be the case. “We will enforce this ruling in New Zealand, and go after their bank accounts until it has been fully realised,” she says.


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