$19,000 fine for let­ter to Lorde

The Press - - National News - Henry Cooke

A pair of Kiwi ac­tivists who wrote an open let­ter ask­ing Lorde to can­cel a concert in Is­rael have been fined al­most NZ$19,000 by an Is­raeli court.

How­ever it is not clear whether that fine will be at all en­force­able in New Zealand, as the pros­e­cut­ing lawyer in­tends to at­tempt.

Jus­tine Sachs and Na­dia AbuShanab wrote the open let­ter to New Zealand singer Lorde on The Spinoff af­ter she planned a concert in Is­rael, ask­ing her to re­con­sider the concert given Is­rael’s il­le­gal oc­cu­pa­tion of Pales­tinian ter­ri­to­ries.

Lorde, whose real name is Ella Yelich O’Con­nor, re­sponded to the let­ter on Twit­ter and even­tu­ally can­celled her concert.

Is­raeli law group Shu­rat HaDin filed a suit on the be­half of three mi­nors who had bought tick­ets to the concert in Jan­uary, de­mand­ing

NIS15,000 (NZ$6330) for each of the mi­nors.

The mi­nors had al­ready been re­funded their tick­ets.

The case re­lied on a con­tro­ver­sial

2011 which al­lows for civil suits against any per­son or group who calls for a boy­cott of the Is­raeli state.

Sachs is a mas­ters stu­dent at the Uni­ver­sity of Auck­land and the co­founder of the group ‘‘Dayenu: New Zealand Jews Against Oc­cu­pa­tion’’ while Abu-Shanab is a teacher and ac­tivist based in Welling­ton.

The Associated Press re­ported yes­ter­day the charge had been suc­cess­ful, and the two ac­tivists had been fined NIS45,000 plus NIS11,000 in le­gal fees, for a to­tal of around NZ$23,500.

Sachs told Stuff yes­ter­day that the rul­ing ‘‘fur­ther demon­strates how Is­rael has be­come some­thing that doesn’t even closely re­sem­ble a lib­eral democ­racy and only val­i­dates the ne­ces­sity of the [Boy­cott, Divest­ment, and Sanc­tions] move­ment to ex­ert ex­ter­nal pres­sure on an apartheid state whose demo­cratic in­sti­tu­tions have col­lapsed.’’

It was not clear whether such a fine would be en­force­able in New Zealand.

Shu­rat HaDin lawyer Nit­sana Dar­shan-Leit­ner told the Jerusalem

Post that New Zealand and Is­rael have a le­gal agree­ment that would al­low the court to pur­sue the dam­ages.

‘‘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,’’ Dar­shan-Leit­ner told the pa­per.

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

But Is­rael is not one of the coun­tries listed in New Zealand’s Re­cip­ro­cal En­force­ment of Judg­ments Act 1934, and le­gal ex­perts doubt any en­force­ment would be pos­si­ble.

In­ter­na­tional law ex­pert Jack Wass told Stuff that for the fine to be en­forced sep­a­rate pro­ceed­ings would have to take place in New Zealand, and our courts would ap­ply their own rules about ju­ris­dic­tion.


Lorde can­celled her shows in Is­rael af­ter ac­knowl­edg­ing an open let­ter from two Kiwi women urg­ing her to boy­cott the Jewish coun­try.

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