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Israelis sue New Zealanders over cancelled Lorde concert

An Israeli legal rights group is suing two New Zealanders who allegedly convinced Lorde to cancel her highly anticipated pop concert in Israel.

The New Zealanders, Justine Sachs and Nadia Abu-Shanab, penned a letter to the pop singer in December last year after she announced a tour stop in Tel Aviv, urging her to ‘take a stand’ and ‘join the artistic boycott of Israel’.

The singer, from New Zealand, then cancelled her concert in Tel Aviv a week later after receiving ‘overwhelming number of messages and letters’ on her controversial tour stop in Israel.

Lorde, 21, announced a world tour in 2018, but has since cancelled her Tel Aviv concert

Now Sachs and Abu-Shanab are being sued by Israeli legal rights group Shurat HaDin, which claims that the New Zealanders, one Jewish and one Palestinian respectively, knew their letter could trigger a boycott. 

The lawsuit was filed in Jerusalem court yesterday, on behalf of three Israeli citizens who were going to attend the concert, for about $13,000 in damages.   

‘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,’ said Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, the group’s head and a lawyer representing the plaintiffs. 

‘They must be held to compensate Israeli citizens for the moral and emotional injury and the indignity caused by their discriminatory actions,’ she added.

The motion follows a 2011 law that opens the door for civil lawsuits against anyone calling for a boycott against Israel, including the lands it has occupied. This law is a part of Israel’s fight against boycotts against the Jewish state and allows for courts to impose damages against defendants.

Critics of the law say it can stifle free expression. 

Darshan-Leitner said the law has not yet been tested in court because proving a link between a boycott and a call for one is difficult. 

She said in this case the connection is clear, claiming that the first time Lorde brought up her reservations on the Tel Aviv performance was after the pair’s letter and that the two women ‘took credit’ for Lorde’s decision to cancel on social media and elsewhere. 

Sachs and Abu-Shanab started a group called Dayenu: New Zealand Jews Against Occupation in 2015 and launched their online campaign against Lorde’s concert in Tel Aviv, scheduled for June 2018.

Lorde responded to the women’s letter via Twitter saying she was grateful for their perspective. 

‘Been speaking w many people about this and considering all options. Thank u for educating me i am learning all the time too (sic),’ she wrote on Twitter.

‘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. I’m not too proud to admit I didn’t make the right call on this one,’ she added.

She follows the footsteps of many other authors who have cancelled their performances in Israel including Elvis Costello, Lauryn Hill and Gorillaz.

In light of the lawsuit, Sachs, contacted on Twitter, said she was unaware of any lawsuit.  

Darshan-Leitner said anyone can be sued under the law, regardless of their nationality, and that she hopes legal agreements between Israel and New Zealand will help enforce any court ruling in favor of the plaintiffs.

Supporters of the movements for boycotts against the Jewish state say it is a nonviolent way to promote the Palestinian cause. It has urged businesses, artists and universities to sever ties with Israel and includes thousands of volunteers around the world.

Israel says the campaign, with its call for a return of Palestinian refugees to land inside what is now Israel, goes beyond opposition to the West Bank occupation and masks a deeper aim of destroying the entire country.


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