New Zealand BDS activists ordered to pay damages over Lorde Israel boycott

New Zealand singer Lorde pulled out of the concert last June after a boycott campaign and intense social media pressure.

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October 11, 2018 15:55
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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The Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court has ruled that two New Zealand Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions activists must pay damages totaling NIS 45,000 for their role in the cancellation of a scheduled Lorde concert in Tel Aviv.

On Wednesday, Judge Mirit Fohrer ruled that activists Justine Sachs and Nadia Abu-Shanab must pay the damages to three Israeli minors named in the lawsuit who had purchased tickets to the concert. The suit was filed in January by attorney Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, president of the Shurat HaDin NGO.

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Last December, New Zealand singer Lorde announced a concert in Tel Aviv slated for June 2018. After a boycott campaign and intense social media pressure, the singer pulled out of the concert, saying, “I have had a lot of discussions with people holding many views, and I think the right decision at this time is to cancel the show.”

Lorde had previously responded on Twitter to an open letter written by Sachs and Abu-Shanab on the New Zealand website Spinoff. The letter called on Lorde to cancel the concert, since “playing in Tel Aviv will be seen as giving support to the policies of the Israeli government.”

In January, Shurat HaDin filed a lawsuit on behalf of Shoshana Steinbach, Ayelet Wertzel and Ahuva Frogel. The three all purchased tickets to see Lorde, and were refunded when the show was canceled. The suit demanded NIS 15,000 in damages for each of the teenagers, claiming that their “artistic welfare” was harmed as was their leisure time, “and above all damage to their good name as Israelis and Jews.” The lawsuit said that Lorde’s response on Twitter to the letter Sachs and Abu-Shanab penned showed a direct connection to the concert cancellation.

Fohrer ruled that in addition to the NIS 45,000, the activists should also pay close to NIS 11,000 in legal fees.

The lawsuit cited the controversial 2011 Israeli Anti-Boycott Law, which allows for civil suits against entities who call for a boycott of the state. Critics have said the law serves to stifle free expression, while others support its tough stance on anti-Israel activism.

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“This is a precedent-setting ruling according to the Boycott Law,” 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.”

Asked how the court intended to enforce its ruling, Darshan-Leitner said that Israel and New Zealand have legal agreements that will allow the court to pursue the damages.

“We will enforce this ruling in New Zealand, and go after their bank accounts until it has been fully realized,” Darshan-Leitner said.

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