Andrew Little, the justice minister of New Zealand, said Tuesday that an Israeli court ruling against two New Zealand BDS activists was a “political stunt.”
Speaking to the Australian Associated Press, Little said last week’s court decision should not be taken seriously.
“It’s very unusual for a court in one jurisdiction to be making decisions that affect people in a different jurisdiction,” he said. “It does look to me like a political stunt – at least the legislation on which the court was operating was a political stunt – and it should be treated accordingly.”
Last week, the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court ruled in favor of three Israeli teenagers who sued two New Zealand-based supporters of an Israel boycott over a canceled Lorde concert. The judge ruled that, based on a controversial 2011 anti-boycott law, the two women must pay NIS 45,000 in damages to the teenagers.
The three teens purchased tickets last year to a Lorde concert slated for June 2018 in Tel Aviv. But after an intensive online campaign, Lorde canceled her show just a week after it was announced. The New Zealand singer/songwriter responded specifically on Twitter to the letter written by the two women – Justine Sachs and Nadia Abu-Shanab – leading the court to rule that they played a direct role in the show’s cancellation.
Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, a lawyer for the Shurat HaDin NGO which filed the suit, has said she fully intends to pursue enforcing the court’s ruling, and believes Israel’s legal agreements with New Zealand will allow her to do so. Darshan-Leitner could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.
Sachs and Abu-Shanab have stated that they have zero intention of paying the fine, which they called a “stunt of which the sole intention is to intimidate Israel’s critics.” Instead, the pair launched a crowd-funding campaign to donate money to the Gaza Mental Health Foundation. As of Tuesday afternoon, the campaign had raised just over $36,000 (approximately NIS 130,000).