A pair of Kiwi activists who wrote an open letter asking Lorde to cancel a concert in Israel have been fined almost NZD$19000 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 Abu-Shanab 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, real name 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 co-founder of the group “Dayenu: New Zealand Jews Against Occupation” while Abu-Shanab is a teacher and activist based in Wellington.
The Associated Press reported on Friday 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 $23,500.
Sachs told Stuff on Friday 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 any such fine would be enforceable in New Zealand.
Shurat HaDin lawyer Nitsana Darshan-Leitner told the Jerusalem Post that New Zealand and Israel and 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.”