Israeli group sues Lorde op-ed authors

Shurat HaDin are suing the two New Zealanders on behalf of three Israeli teenagers for $13,000 in damages.

Israeli group sues Lorde op-ed authors Lorde performs at Coachella. April 16, 2017.   Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images for Coachella

The Associated Press has reported that Shurat HaDin, an Israeli advocacy group, is suing the authors of an open letter which asked Lorde to cancel a show in Tel Aviv.

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The organization alleges that the letter convinced Lorde to pull the gig, originally scheduled for June 2018, and thus runs afoul of Israel's controversial anti-boycott law. The suit was filed in an Israeli court on Tuesday against the letter's New Zealand-based authors Justine Sachs and Nadia Abu-Shanab on behalf of three would-be teenage concertgoers. The plaintiffs are asking for $13,000 in damages for "emotional injury."

“This lawsuit is 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,” said Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, head of Shurat HaDin and a lawyer for the plaintiffs. “They must be held to compensate Israeli citizens for the moral and emotional injury and the indignity caused by their discriminatory actions.”

Established in 2011, the anti-boycott law came in response to the growing Boycott, Divest, and Sanction (BDS) movement, which urges non-violent demonstration and financial withdrawal from Israel against the country's perceived human rights violations against Palestinians. The law, which critics say is anti-free speech, has never been tested in court, but Darshan-Leitner hopes that New Zealand will respect the Israeli court's ruling (as Jezebel points out, Darshan-Leitner admitted in a New York Times profile that "her arguments are 'regularly rejected by courts'”). Sachs has responded to the lawsuit on Twitter, calling it a "stupid stunt."

Lorde cancelled her show in Tel Aviv four days after Sachs and Abu-Shanab wrote their open letter asking Lorde to "take a stand" and “join the artistic boycott of Israel." Lorde responded on Twitter: “Noted! Been speaking (with) many people about this and considering all options. Thank u for educating me i am learning all the time too.”

Following the cancellation, Lorde was called a "bigot" by Shmuley Boteach, a U.S. rabbi with close ties to Donald Trump and Steve Bannon. Last week, Lorde was heckled for the cancellation as she performed onstage at a charity benefit with Jack Antonoff.

A representative for Lorde was not immediately available for comment.

January 31, 2018
Israeli group sues Lorde op-ed authors