New Zealand

New Zealanders refuse to pay fine for urging pop star Lorde to ‘boycott Israel’, instead raise funds for Palestinians

An Israeli court found the two women damaged peoples’ ‘artistic welfare’ for writing the letter to the singer, who went on to cancel her planned concert in Tel Aviv

PUBLISHED : Monday, 15 October, 2018, 10:01am
UPDATED : Monday, 15 October, 2018, 10:01am

Two New Zealand women who were ordered to pay damages by an Israeli court for their role in Lorde cancelling a Tel Aviv concert have raised the sum through donations – but plan to give the money to the Gaza Mental Health Foundation instead.

Last week an Israeli court ruled Justine Sachs and Nadia Abu-Shanab of New Zealand must pay damages to Israeli teenagers Shoshana Steinbach, Ayelet Wertzel and Ahuva Frogel totalling more than NZ$18,000 (US$11,700) for writing a letter urging Lorde to cancel her gig, which she did.

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”.

Sachs and Abu-Shanab said in the hours following the ruling they were inundated with offers of financial assistance from around the world, intended to help the two young women pay the fine.

Israel fines New Zealand teenagers US$11,695 for urging Lorde concert boycott

But Sachs and Abu-Shanab have said they have no intention of doing so, and have been advised by legal experts there is little chance of Israel having the recourse to force them, because they were not in Israel when they penned the open letter and did not participate in the court case in any way.

Instead, the two women have launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise money for the Gaza Mental Health Foundation, and in just three days have already raised the money from more than 400 donors.

“We will not be paying the court-ordered amount,” Sachs, who is Israeli, and Abu-Shanab, a Palestinian, said in a statement. “Instead, we would like to redirect the support extended to us back to Palestinians in need of mental health support.”

A spokesperson for the New Zealand ministry of foreign affairs said it would be up to New Zealand’s courts to decide whether the claim for damages was enforceable. Legal experts said it would not be automatic and a new case would have to be launched in a New Zealand court seeking an enforcement of Israel’s ruling.

The cultural boycott of Israel through the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement launched in 2005 and has gathered momentum in recent years even if its economic impact remains negligible.