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Israeli effort to punish BDS activists for Lorde cancellation is backfiring

on 12 Comments

Last year the New Zealand pop star Lorde cancelled her performance in Israel due to the persuasion of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions activists (BDS), sparked by a letter written by New Zealand activists Justine Sachs and Nadia Abu-Shanab, who are respectively of Israeli-Jewish and Palestinian background. Sachs was offered the full ‘kapo’ (Nazi-traitor) treatment in the Israeli press .

Meantime, Israeli ‘lawfare’ organization Shurat Hadin, an NGO, carried out a legal crusade to sue the activists, even though they were not in Israel when they penned the letter, and even though Lorde made up her own mind and was neither forced to perform nor to cancel. Shurat Hadin represented three teenage girls, demanding damages be paid by the activists for bringing about the cancellation.

Lorde at the 2014 St Jerome’s Laneway Festival in Sydney, Australia (Photo: Annette Geneva/ Wikimedia)

Last week an Israeli court ruled that Sachs and Abu-Shanab must pay damages to Israeli teenagers Shoshana Steinbach, Ayelet Wertzel and Ahuva Frogel totaling more than NZ $18,000 ($11,700). The court found the two New Zealand women damaged the “artistic welfare” of the three Israeli teenagers, and perpetrated “damage to their good name as Israelis and Jews”.

Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, president of Shurat HaDin, who filed the suit called the ruling “precedent-setting”:

“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”. 

But Shoshana, Ayelet and Ahuva, whose ‘artistic welfare’ and ‘good name’ are now damaged beyond recognition, can apparently go and cry themselves a river – because Justine and Nadia are not paying. The two stated:

“We will not be paying the court-ordered amount… 

“Instead, we would like to redirect the support extended to us back to Palestinians in need of mental health support.”

The two activists decided to crowd-fund $12,000 and donate it to the Gaza Mental Health Foundation. The money was gathered within three days from about 400 donors, as the Guardian reported on Monday. By the time of writing two days later, the amount has reached nearly $38,000, from 766 donors.

Enforcement of the Israeli fine in New Zealand is not likely. Legal experts said that enforcement would not be automatic and that a new case would have to be launched in a New Zealand court seeking an enforcement of Israel’s ruling. Darshan-Leitner from Shurat Hadin has nonetheless promised to pursue the case: 

We will enforce this ruling in New Zealand and go after their bank accounts until it has been fully realised.”

We shall see. In any case, Sachs and Abu-Shanab have already won. Like Martial-arts experts, they took all that punishing energy from the Israelis and turned it to love for Palestinians. They have made the Israelis look pampered, angry, selfish, pedantic and petty. Sachs and Abu-Shanab are on the right side of history, and they are showing how care and magnanimity are stronger than the sour Israeli self-righteousness. When Lorde cancelled her concert last year, she offered humility: “I’m not too proud to admit I didn’t make the right call on this one”, she wrote. But the Israeli nationalists are attempting to use as much audacious chutzpah as they can, trying to punish anyone anywhere in the world for using their common sense and their democratic, non-violent means of protest, against an Apartheid state.

The Israelis may try to take this further in New Zealand, but this will only open another battle in which the Israelis are likely to lose, because there is something called free speech in New Zealand, and fortunately New Zealand has not passed legislation against BDS, as some Western countries have. Darshan-Leitner’s claim that the ruling will be enforced upon people who do not live in Israel and who are in absentia, appears to be in the spirit of the letter recently submitted by the Israeli government to the Supreme Court in defense of its ‘theft law’ (legalizing theft of Palestinian own land):

The Israeli government claimed that it can “legislate anywhere in the world”, that it is “entitled to violate the sovereignty of foreign countries”, and that it “is allowed to ignore the directives of international law in any field it desires”.

These outrageous Israeli dramas and extravaganzas are made in defense of criminality. Rather than defending the state, they are merely exposing the farce, and further confirming Israel’s continued plunge into a moral abyss. Against such darkness, the BDS stars can only shine brighter.

Jonathan Ofir

Israeli musician, conductor and blogger / writer based in Denmark.

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12 Responses

  1. Marnie on October 17, 2018, 11:33 am

    It’s so great to see the money-making schemes (also known as extortion) of the zionazis blow up in their faces. What an honorable move by Justine and Nadia and other people of good will, who understand the suffering in palestine isn’t on the part of the whiny, overindulged fattened calves of the zionist enterprise and their spawn, but the people of Gaza who are just trying to live their lives. This is heartwarming. Long live Palestine!

    • US Citizen on October 17, 2018, 11:26 pm

      As a US citizen I’m going to be arrested for telling the truth about israel? Oh hell no, israel has no right to police the political opinions of people across the world. Period.

      Here in the US, we cannot allow zionazis, be they Democrats or Republicans, to abrogate our constitutional rights, so as to further shield israel from accountability.

      Boycotts are legal, they are protected by our First Amendment right to free speech and freedom of expression, and they can be targeted at department stores with liberal policies, as well as at companies that profit from the violation of human rights and the desecration of indigenous lands, from Standing Rock to Palestine.

      What is the hasbara rhetoric we hear over and over? There is no such thing as “Palestinians” or “Palestine”. Then what are they protesting for? It would make BDS a moot point. This alone highlights the idiocy of these ignorant fanatics.

      • Marnie on October 18, 2018, 7:59 am

        @US Citizen – ‘What is the hasbara rhetoric we hear over and over? There is no such thing as “Palestinians” or “Palestine”. Then what are they protesting for? It would make BDS a moot point. This alone highlights the idiocy of these ignorant fanatics.’

        Tell me about it. Billions upon billions of dollars spent on a world-wide scheme against a people they claim do not even exist. Crazy as fuck aren’t they? And what does that say about their supporters?

    • on October 18, 2018, 8:54 am

      @Marnie: well said. I would add: Free Palestine !!!!!
      BTW, I have also taken to using the term ZioNazis for Zionists, as that is now the most appropriate denomination.

  2. Kay24 on October 17, 2018, 11:49 am

    It is a nice to hear that Israel get it’s just desserts sometimes. They have been bullies for years, and usually get away with with everything even murder. All thanks to the unwavering support of the US, and the protection it gets from us at the UN. I hope New Zealand has the good sense to keep out the zionist influence that usually is obtained by buying off politicians, that makes these politicians go against the policies of their own nation (the US being a good example).
    Australia seems to be a loss cause, and New Zealand should avoid falling into that zionist trap.

    • Marnie on October 17, 2018, 1:01 pm

      Agree Kay24.

    • Penfold on October 18, 2018, 8:51 pm

      Hehe generally we tend to go the opposite way to Australia.
      We have had numerous legal encounters with Israel over the past twenty or so years especially around areas of identity theft, stolen passports and they failed to convince even our most right wing government against sponsering a UN resolution so I dont rate their chances of threatening the left wing government we have now.

      We are a relatively stubborn bunch to the louder the noise the more support will move away from them, their best course of action now is to shut up and let the matter die, but I am not sure they are that smart.

      • Kay24 on October 18, 2018, 9:51 pm

        I hope you guys stay that way, and not allow the poison to enter and spread, in your lovely country. New Zealand has been one of the most peaceful nations in the world, and I would be happy if it stays that way. Ireland and New Zealand are two of the spunkiest nations in the world that has been able to resist that poison, and have been rather reasonable and fair, when it comes to Palestinian rights, and doing the right thing.
        I have some friends over there, and hopefully will visit in the near future. :))

  3. Elizabeth Block on October 18, 2018, 10:39 am

    I’m looking forward to seeing how New Zealand courts deal with this!

  4. Misterioso on October 18, 2018, 10:55 am


    Published on Sept. 25/18
    Speech by delegate Colin Monehen – passionate support for Palestine.
    Britain’s Labour Party, 2018 convention.

    “Labour Conference votes to freeze arms sales to Israel. The Labour Party is now free. Palestine next.”

  5. genesto on October 18, 2018, 12:28 pm

    I just made a donation. total was over $38,000 when I made it just a few minutes ago.

    I hope others on this site join in to help financially as well. Funds, more than just talk, are desperately to fight off the well-funded ZioNazis.

  6. John O on October 23, 2018, 3:13 am

    Sachs and Abu-Shanab have an op-ed in today’s Guardian (print and web editions):

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