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BDS activists raise funds for Gaza instead of paying court fine for Lorde boycott

This is the first case to use a 2011 Israeli law which allows civil suits to be filed against individuals who encourage the boycott of Israel
Lorde cancelled the Israeli leg of her 2018 world tour (Reuters)

Two pro-Palestine activists have refused to pay $12,000 to an Israeli court after being accused of convincing pop singer Lorde to join the “artistic boycott of Israel” and ditch her performance in Tel Aviv.

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

 Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, Israeli lawyer

The court ordered Justine Sachs and Nadia Abu Shahab, who are both from New Zealand, to pay damages following the lawsuit filed against them by Israeli law group Shurat HaDin.

The suit was brought on behalf of three Israeli teenagers who bought tickets to see Lorde in concert and said her cancellation damaged their “artistic welfare".

Despite losing the lawsuit, the activists said they do not intend to pay the fine and instead focus on raising money for Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip.

Sachs wrote on Twitter that the pair was “overwhelmed with offers of financial support from New Zealand and around the world".

“We will not be paying the court ordered amount. Instead, we would like to use the publicity surrounding Israel’s stunt to return attention to Palestine,” said Sachs.

“We’re launching a crowdfunding campaign to raise $12,000 (or more) for the Gaza Mental Health Foundation which financially supports the work of incredible grassroots organisations.”

Precedent-setting case

The lawsuit is the first case to cite a 2011 Israeli law which allows the use of civil suits against individuals anywhere in the world who encourage the boycott of Israel, Haaretz reported.

Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, who represented the teenagers, described the ruling as “precedent-setting” and said the decision sends a message that boycotting Israel carries a price.

“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,” Leitner told the Jerusalem Post. 

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

The New Zealand-based activists wrote an open letter in June 2017 urging Lorde to cancel the Israeli leg of her world tour. 

"Playing in Tel Aviv will be seen as giving support to the policies of the Israeli government, even if you make no comment on the political situation," they wrote.

"Such an effect cannot be undone by even the best intention and the best music."

Representatives for Lorde did not respond immediately to calls for comment. 

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