Two New Zealand activists dismissed an Israeli court order to pay damages for allegedly helping persuade pop singer Lorde to cancel a performance in Israel.
The women said the ruling aims “to intimidate Israel’s critics.”
Justine Sachs and Nadia Abu-Shanab said on Friday that instead of paying the $12,000 damages to Israeli ticket holders who claimed the cancellation caused emotional distress, they will raise funds for a Gaza mental health organization.
They said New Zealand legal experts advised them that Israel “has no right to police the political opinions of people across the world.”
The suit was filed under a law allowing civil lawsuits against advocates of boycotting Israel. The women wrote an open letter last year urging Lorde to “join the artistic boycott of Israel,” after which Lorde canceled her show.
Three Israeli ticket holders filed the suit, claiming the cancellation had caused emotional distress. Their lawyer, Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, said the decision sends a message that boycotting Israel carries a price.
Darshan-Leitner’s organization Shurat HaDin filed the lawsuit in February, saying it was “an effort to give real consequences to those who selectively target Israel and seek to impose an unjust and illegal boycott against the Jewish state. They must be held to compensate Israeli citizens for the moral and emotional injury and the indignity caused by their discriminatory actions.”
Sachs, who is Jewish, and Abu Shanab, who is of Palestinian origin, mocked the lawsuit in February, telling Radio New Zealand, “As far as we are concerned, this ‘case’ has no legitimacy. Our New Zealand friends and colleagues at work today were incredulous at news of our rumored legal predicament.”
Supporters of an Israel boycott say it is a nonviolent way to promote the Palestinian cause. It has urged businesses, artists and universities to sever ties with Israel and includes thousands of volunteers around the world.
Israel says the campaign, some of whose proponents call for a return of Palestinian refugees to land inside Israel, goes beyond opposition to the West Bank occupation and masks a deeper aim of dismantling the Jewish state altogether.