Artist News Legal

Israeli court fines activists over Lorde Tel Aviv show cancellation

By | Published on Monday 15 October 2018


Two New Zealand-based activists were recently fined just over £9000 by a Magistrates’ Court in Jerusalem for their role in the cancellation of a Lorde concert in Israel earlier this year. Those activists – Justine Sachs and Nadia Abu-Shanab – had previously dismissed the case as “a hoax”.

After Lorde announced plans earlier this year to play a show in Tel Aviv, Abu-Shanab and Sachs wrote an open letter to the musician asking her to “take a stand” and “join the artistic boycott of Israel”. The musician replied to them on Twitter, saying that she had “been speaking [with] many people about this and [was] considering all options”. Days later, the show was cancelled.

Shortly after that had happened, Israeli civil rights group Shurat HaDin announced that it had filed a lawsuit in Jerusalem on behalf of three teenage Lorde fans who were demanding compensation for the “moral and emotional injury” caused by the cancelled gig.

According to the Jerusalem Post, last week the case was ruled upon in favour of Shurat HaDin, with judges agreeing that the activists had broken the country’s controversial 2011 Anti-Boycott Law. The suit originally demanded 15,000 shekels (£3100) in damages. But the court has now awarded the plaintiffs 45,000 shekels (£9300), as well as ordering Abu-Shanab and Sachs to pay 11,000 (£2300) shekels in legal costs.

Shurat HaDin President Nitsana Darshan-Leitner was buoyant after the win, saying: “This is a precedent-setting ruling according to the Boycott Law. 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”.

In this case, the boycott callers were outside Israel. With that in mind, Darshan-Leitner was asked how the fine would be enforced. She insisted that they would chase payment through the New Zealand legal system. “We will enforce this ruling in New Zealand”, she said, “and go after their bank accounts until it has been fully realised”.

Abu-Shanab and Sachs set up a crowdfunding page to raise the amount they had been fined, but said that instead of handing it over to Shurat HaDin, they would instead give the money raised to a mental health charity.

“In a few short hours [since the ruling] we’ve been overwhelmed with offers of financial support from New Zealand and around the world”, they said. “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 … Donations will be sent in their entirety to organisations which are providing vital mental health support to the traumatised families of the Gaza Strip.

So far, they have raised more than double the initially amount they were seeking.