Israeli NGO sues New Zealanders over canceled Lorde show

A BDS activist called the lawsuit 'a stupid stunt.'

January 31, 2018 16:23
2 minute read.
SINGER LORDE attends the 2017 MTV Video Music Awards in Inglewood, California, August 2017

SINGER LORDE attends the 2017 MTV Video Music Awards in Inglewood, California, August 2017. (photo credit: DANNY MOLOSHOK/REUTERS)


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Israeli NGO Shurat HaDin filed a suit in the Jerusalem's Magistrate court this week against two New Zealand women for damages over a canceled Lorde concert.

In December, the New Zealand singer and songwriter announced she would be playing a show in Tel Aviv in June. Lorde immediately faced an online campaign aimed at getting her to cancel the gig, which ultimately proved successful just a week later.

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The two women named in the lawsuit, Justine Sachs and Nadia Abu-Shanab, were among the most active voices in the campaign. The pair wrote an open letter to Lorde posted on the New Zealand website Spinoff calling on the artist to cancel her show since it would be seen as “giving support to the policies of the Israeli government, even if you make no comment on the political situation.”

In response to that letter, Lorde wrote on Twitter “Noted! Been speaking w many people about this and considering all options. Thank u for educating me i am learning all the time too.” Several days later, she canceled the show.

Shurat Hadin filed the lawsuit on Tuesday on behalf of three Israeli minors who had bought tickets and were hoping to attend the show. The suit requests NIS 45,000 in damages – NIS 15,000 for each of the complainants. Tickets went on sale for NIS 289 each and were refunded upon cancellation of the show.

The lawsuit cites the 2011 Israeli Anti-Boycott law, which allows for civil suits against entities who call for a boycott of the state. The law has never been tested in court, according to the NGO.

Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, president of Shurat Hadin and the attorney who filed Tuesday’s suit, said the defendants sought to harm Israeli citizens.

“The cancellation of performances in Israel due to the pressure of pro-Palestinian organizations over the years has hurt the feelings and identity of hundreds of thousands of Israelis,” Darshan-Leitner said in a released statement. “This is a precedent-setting suit aimed at deterring BDS [Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions] activists from calling for a boycott of Israel. We hope the court will implement the new law and issue compensation in favor of the plaintiffs. That way the boycott activists will know that there is a price for every action against Israeli citizens.”

Sachs, the co-founder of Dayenu: New Zealand Jews Against Occupation, did not immediately respond to a request for comment via Twitter. In her posts, the activist originally thought news of the lawsuit was a joke, later writing: “Update: Lawsuit is... real... a stupid stunt but a real stupid stunt.” She then added: “Israel 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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