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CAIRO – 2 February 2018: Israeli law center Shurat HaDin announced Wednesday suing two New Zealanders for allegedly convincing New Zealand pop singer Lorde to call off her June 2018 concert in Tel Aviv, Israel.
As part of Israel’s fight against the Palestinian-led boycott campaign against it, Shurat HaDin filed a lawsuit against the two activists in a Jerusalem court on behalf of three Israeli would-be concert goers, for $13,000 in damages.
"They must be held to compensate Israeli citizens for the moral and emotional injury and the indignity caused by their discriminatory actions," Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, Shurat HaDin’s head, stated.
Darshan-Leitner said she hopes legal agreements between the two countries will help enforce the court ruling, adding that anyone can be prosecuted under the law, regardless of their nationality.
Jewish Justine Sachs, co-founder of Dayenu: New Zealand Jews Against Occupation, and Wellington-based Palestinian activist Nadia Abu-Shanab, penned an open letter to two-time Grammy winner Lorde, urging her to join the artistic boycott of Israel.
Lorde replied to a tweet of the letter, saying she had been speaking with many people about this and considering all options. “Thank you for educating me, I am learning all the time too," Lorde stated.
Criticism from international and New Zealand activists prompted Lorde to announce in late December she was cancelling the performance in Israel.
"I've received an overwhelming number of messages & letters and 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," Lorde wrote in a statement distributed by Naranjah, the Israeli promoters of her Tel Aviv show.
In a statement to AFP, Naranjah said, "We forgive Lorde and wish her a successful tour in Russia and the U.S."
New Zealand was among 128 countries that voted, during a rare United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) emergency special session held on December 21, 2017, in favor of a resolution issued by Arab states calling for the United States to withdraw its decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital.
The Israeli 2011 anti-“Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS)” movement law, allows civilians to file lawsuits against anyone calling to boycott Israel. Israel sees BDS as a strategic threat and accuses it of anti-Semitism, a claim activists firmly deny, calling it an attempt to discredit them.
The BDS, launched in 2005, works to “end international support for Israel's oppression of Palestinians and pressures Israel to comply with international law," as stated on the movement's website.
Israel’s Strategic Affairs Ministry blacklisted 20 organizations around the world that support the BDS movement, including California-based left-wing Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) activist organization. The members of these organizations will not be allowed to enter Israel.
Executive Director of JVP Rebecca Wilkomerson commented that the measure was not surprising, according to Haaretz. She added that "as someone with considerable family in Israel, this policy will be a personal hardship. But I also believe it is an indicator of the BDS movement's growing strength and hope that will bring us closer to the day when all people in Israel/Palestine will live together in equality and freedom."
Although the Supreme Court ruled decades ago that a boycott is a constitutionally protected speech, Kansas passed a law last summer requiring all contractors with the state to promise they will not boycott Israel. On Tuesday, a federal judge blocked Kansas from enforcing the law.
“The government has no right telling people what they can and can’t support,” Micah Kubic, director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Kansas, stated.