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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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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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