Israeli Court Fines Two Anti-Israel Protestors for Lorde’s Concert Cancellation

The true price of boycotting a Lorde concert?  Over $15,000.

Earlier this year, the Shurat HaDin, an Israeli non-governmental organization (NGO), filed a lawsuit against two women.

Nadia Abu-Shanab and Justine Sachs, both from New Zealand and adamant members of the anti-Israel boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement, had called on Lorde to cancel her upcoming show in June.

In an open letter to the New Zealand pop singer, they said her June 2018 performance “would be seen as giving support to the policies of the Israeli government.”  Speaking directly to Lorde, this would happen “even if you make no comment on the political situation.”

The New Zealand pop singer also faced intense criticism from other anti-Israel groups.

Under intense pressure from activists, Lorde eventually gave in and canceled her performance last December.

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.

The Israeli NGO had filed a lawsuit against Abu-Shanab and Sachs under a controversial 2011 law in the country.  The Anti-Boycott Law states that people can’t call for an economic, cultural, or academic boycott against a person or an entity over a perceived affiliation to Israel.

Critics have claimed the law stifles freedom of expression.  Others have praised its tough stance against anti-Semitism.

Shurat HaDin claimed both women harmed the “artistic welfare” of three Israeli teenagers, fans of the pop singer.  Shoshana Steinbach, Ayelet Wertzel, and Ahuval Frogel had purchased tickets to her scheduled performance.

An Israeli judge sided with the NGO.  Judge Mirit Fohler ruled Lorde’s response on Twitter “showed a direct connection” to Abu-Shanab and Sachs’ open letter.  Thus, both activists were found responsible for the cancellation.  Abu-Shanab and Sachs now have to pay ₪ 45,000 ($12,407) in damages and ₪ 11,000 ($3,032) in legal fees.

In a statement, Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, attorney and President of Shurat HaDin, praised the ruling.

“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.”

It remains to be seen whether the women will pay up.

According to Darshan-Leitner, Israel and New Zealand have legal agreements.  This will allow the court to pursue damages.

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


Featured image by Annette Geneva (CC by 2.0).