An Israeli court has ordered a pair of New Zealand activists to pay over $12,000 in damages for allegedly persuading the pop star Lorde to cancel her scheduled performance in Tel Aviv, Israel. The activists, a Jewish New Zealander named Justine Sachs and a Palestinian New Zealander Nadia Abu-Shanab, have stated that they will not pay the courts, because the ruling seeks “to intimidate Israel’s critics.”
This court enacted a controversial law, which “allows civil lawsuits against anyone who calls for a boycott against Israel,” according to Billboard. Many critics, including Sachs and Abu-Shanab have interpreted this law as an attempt to censor free speech, and suppress criticisms against the state of Israel.
Much of the criticism toward Israel stems from their construction of land and military settlements on historically Palestinian lands, and the forced removal of Palestinians, who are largely considered to be of Arab descent, from these lands. While Israel has face conflicts since its inception, many activists consider the outcomes of the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, which saw the nation create these settlements in the West Bank, as a main point of contention.
During December of last year Sachs and Abu-Shanab wrote a letter together entitled “Dear Lorde, here’s why we’re urging you not to play Israel,” for the New Zealand publication, The Spinoff. Both of the activists explained their personal history and why the building on settlements, and the conditions in them that are placed under further strain by the Israeli military presence, urged them to petition Lorde to cancel her performance.
“The occupation is considered an affront to international law and Israeli settlements in the area explicitly violate the Geneva Convention. The military occupation of Palestinian territories has resulted in an apartheid state,” the women explained in the letter. “Palestinians living in the occupied territories do not enjoy the same rights Israeli citizens enjoy, they are denied freedom of movement and often basic services and necessities.”
Both women encouraged Lorde to cancel the concert as part of an ongoing cultural boycott of the nation, that is known as the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions(BDS) movement. This activism movement seeks to encourage a cultural, social and economic boycott of the state until several efforts, which includes citizenship of Palestinian citizens and the demilitarization of settlements such as Gaza and the West Bank, are achieved.
Today, millions of people stand opposed to the Israeli government’s policies of oppression, ethnic cleansing, human rights violations, occupation and apartheid. As part of this struggle, we believe that an economic, intellectual and artistic boycott is an effective way of speaking out against these crimes,” both activists elaborated. “This worked very effectively against apartheid in South Africa, and we hope it can work again.”
That same month Lorde announced her cancellation of the Israeli concert in a message posted to social media. ““I(sic) pride myself on being an informed young citizen, and I(sic) have done a lot of reading and sought a lot of opinions before deciding to book a show in Tel Aviv(sic), but I’m(sic) not proud to admit I(sic) didn’t make the right call on this one,” Lorde explained.
— Amy Spiro (@AmySpiro) December 24, 2017
Despite this cancellation the artist is scheduled to perform abroad this year, witch a scheduled stop in Mexico for the annual Corona Capital concert. This June the artist also made an appearance at the NOS Primavera Sound festival in Portugal, joining the likes of artists such as Tyler, The Creator.
Photo credit: Sharon Alagna