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Promoter pulls Bhad Bhabie Jordan show over Israel date

A planned show by American rapper Bhad Bhabie in Amman, the capital of Jordan, has been cancelled following protests from the Jordanian branch of the anti-Israel boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.

Bhad Bhabie, real name Danielle Bregoli, was due to perform at Amman’s Opera House on 8 July, a day before playing in Tel Aviv, Israel. According to Middle East Monitor, BDS Jordan and Etharrak, a Jordanian group that “opposes normalisation with Israel”, wrote a joint letter to the concert’s promoter, Pop Agency, urging it to cancel the show in light of Bregoli’s plans to play the “Zionist enemy”.

“As a boycott movement opposing normalisation with the Zionist enemy, we consider these actions destructive towards the Palestinian identity,” it reads, “and in violation of the general public rejection of normalisation with the Zionist enemy.”

A statement from Pop Agency claims that “recent statements” by Bregoli (pictured) “violate our values and the contract between us and artist”, leaving it no choice but to cancel.

 

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Haaretz reports Bregoli was brought to the attention of the BDS movement via a series of tweets by Mohammad Alqadi, a Palestinian Arab marathon runner, who called on Jordanians to boycott the singer for her perceived support for Israel.

According to Live Nation’s Bluestone Group, promoter of the Barby (600-cap.), Tel Aviv, date, the 9 July show will go ahead as planned.

BDS – an international movement urging an international boycott of Israel until it withdraws from the Palestinian territories – last year succeeded in convincing several artists, including Lorde and Lana Del Rey, to cancel shows in Tel Aviv.

It also led criticism of this year’s Eurovision Song Contest, with BDS-supporting artists including Roger Waters, Wolf Alice and Brian Eno urging a boycott of the event due to Israel’s “grave, decades-old violations of Palestinian human rights”.

 


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$17k fine for Lorde Israel boycott organisers

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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Lana Del Rey pulls out of Israel’s Meteor Festival

After initially defending her decision to play the inaugural edition of Meteor Festival, stating her performance would “not be a political statement,” Lana Del Rey has pulled out of the Israeli event.

In a statement uploaded to her Twitter, Del Rey explained it was important to her to be able to play both Israel and Palestine so she could “treat all [her] fans equally”. In the run-up to the festival – scheduled for this weekend in Tel Aviv (6-8 September) – a Palestinian show couldn’t be organised in time, and so her performance has been postponed “until a time when [she] can schedule visits for both”.

The statement comes 11 days after Del Rey initially defended her decision to play the festival. A previous series of tweets explained she “understood” why fans were upset, but stated “I’m doing my best to navigate the waters of the constant tumultuous hardships in the war-torn countries all over the world that I travel through monthly.”

“Affiliating us with that is nothing short of absurd – as in fact, we’re pretty much the only festival in the world who’s 100% politics free.”

Much of the pressure to drop out of the festival came from the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement (BDS), which has so far convinced a number of other artists to cancel their performances. Many American, British, South African and Australian acts have all pulled out, including electronic music producer Shlohmo, DJ Volvox, duo Black Motion, DJ Shanti Celeste, DJ Seinfeld and DJ Leon Vynehall.

The news of Del Rey’s decision was met with a cold reception from event organisers.  A statement published on the Meteor Festival website shortly after the news broke accused the “no-show” singer of using her performance to “score some press attention” – something that has since been deleted.

Organisers have previously emphasised in the statement that Meteor Festival is “an independent, private project… receiving no support, funds or benefits from any governmental or political entity.” It continues: “Therefore, affiliating us with that is nothing short of absurd – as in fact, we’re pretty much the only festival in the world who’s 100% politics free.”

Del Rey’s decision is not the first high-profile cancellation; last year, New Zealand singer-songwriter Lorde cancelled shows in Tel Aviv, prompting heavy backlash from anti-BDS campaigners.

 


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FL rep demands axing of Lorde shows amid Israel row

Randy Fine, a state representative in Florida, has demanded venues in Tampa and Miami cancel their upcoming Lorde shows in order to comply with the state’s anti-BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) legislation.

Lorde’s Melodrama world tour is due to visit Amalie Arena (21,500-cap.) on 11 April and American Airlines Arena (20,021-cap.) on 12 April. However, both venues are publicly owned – the former by Hillsborough County and the latter by Miami-Dade County – and, under a law introduced in February 2016, no Florida state or local government is permitted to conduct business exceeding US$1 million with any organisation engaged in a boycott of Israel.

New Zealand singer Lorde in December cancelled a planned show in Tel Aviv under pressure from the anti-Israel BDS movement, which campaigns against what it calls Israeli “oppression” of Palestinian Arabs.

“Florida has no tolerance for antisemitism and boycotts intended to destroy the state of Israel,” says Fine (pictured). “That’s why Florida passed groundbreaking anti-BDS legislation several years ago and why, along with senator Jeff Brandes, I have proposed strengthening that legislation this year. Current statutes are clear: local governments cannot do business with companies that participate in antisemitic boycotts of Israel.

“The taxpayers of Miami and Tampa should not have to facilitate bigotry and antisemitism”

“When Lorde joined the boycott in December, she and her companies became subject to that statute.

“The taxpayers of Miami and Tampa should not have to facilitate bigotry and antisemitism, and I look forward to [venue owners] the Miami Sports and Exhibition Authority and the Tampa Sports Authority complying with the law and cancelling these concerts.”

Tampa Sports Authority and the Miami Sports and Exhibition Authority declined to comment.

Randy Fine is the state representative from Florida’s district 53, centred on Brevard County.

 


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Israeli civil rights group sues over Lorde cancellation

An Israeli NGO is suing two New Zealanders for allegedly influencing Lorde to cancel a planned show in Tel Aviv in June, in what is believed to be first lawsuit filed under Israel’s new anti-boycott law.

Shurat HaDin is representing three teenagers who had bought tickets to the concert, which was called off in December under pressure from the anti-Israel boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement. The two defendants, Palestinian Arab Nadia Abu-Shanab and Jew Justine Sachs, both BDS activists, wrote an open letter to Lorde (pictured) prior to the cancellation saying that if the New Zealand singer played the 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”.

Israeli’s anti-boycott law (in full, the Law for Prevention of Damage to State of Israel through Boycott), introduced in 2011, 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, and is intended to apply to anyone, regardless of nationality.

“This lawsuit is an effort to give real consequences to those who selectively target Israel”

The three plaintiffs are seeking ₪15,000 (US$4,400) each in damages.

Shurat HaDin head Nitsana Darshan-Leitner tells the Associated Press: “This lawsuit is an effort to give real consequences to those who selectively target Israel and seek to impose an unjust and illegal boycott against the Jewish state.

“They must be held to compensate Israeli citizens for the moral and emotional injury and the indignity caused by their discriminatory actions.”

After being made aware of the lawsuit, Sachs declined to comment, but did later tweet: “Israel [is] the only ‘democracy’ in the Middle East where New Zealanders get sued for exercising their freedom of speech… in New Zealand.”

 


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