Lorde Fans Sue BDS Activists for 'Inciting' Her to Cancel Israel Show

Three women seek $13,000 in damages from New Zealand BDS activists for “suffer[ing] terrible disappointment from the cancellation of the appearance"

Itay Stern
Itay Stern
New Zealand singer Lorde.
New Zealand singer Lorde.Credit: Victoria Will/Invision/AP
Itay Stern
Itay Stern

Three young Israeli fans of Lorde are suing two boycott activists from New Zealand who, the plaintiffs say, persuaded the singer to cancel her planned appearance in Israel.

The three young women purchased tickets to the concert and according to their attorney, Nitzana Darshan Leitner, “suffered terrible disappointment from the cancellation of the appearance, which they believe was unlawful and for unfair reasons.” The three are asking for 45,000 shekels ($13,235) in damages.

Lorde canceled her appearance in Israel after anti-occupation activists Justine Sachs and Nadia Abu-Shanab wrote an open letter to the singer on the Spinoff website, calling on her not to perform here. “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 two wrote.

Darshan Leitner, who heads the right-wing legal organization Shurat Hadin, is suing the two for violating Israel’s Boycott Law passed in 2011. “This would be the first time tort liability will be imposed on someone who called to boycott the State of Israel,” she said.

The suit was filed Tuesday in Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court. “The Boycott Law does not limit its application solely to Israeli citizens and authorized the Israeli courts to hear claims made against foreign residents,” said Darshan Leitner. “The trial itself will take place in Israel. Lorde’s cancellation was in Israel, the damages suffered by the plaintiffs took place in Israel and the call by the New Zealander activists to cancel the appearance was published on the internet, therefore it’s global.”

Aside from the damages suffered, she said, she is representing the complainants out of a desire to fight the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement. “We are representing the girls with the aim of battling those who call to boycott the State of Israel and to deter those who seek to do so in the future.”

Asked why an artist can’t cancel an appearance in Israel for political reasons, Darshan Leitner replied, “Lorde planned to come to Israel. She was incited to cancel her appearance by lies that were brought to her attention. The BDS movement is a movement based on falsehood that smears Israel all over the world. It’s also the reason the Israeli legislature imposes tort liability, because it sees the movement as undermining the existence of the state. For this reason, by the way, we are not suing the singer, but those who incited her to act against Israel.”

Asked how a decision by an Israeli court might affect activists who live in New Zealand, the attorney said, “There is a treaty between Israel and New Zealand on enforcing judgments, so the decision by an Israeli court will affect those activists.”

Asked if she was afraid that this lawsuit, which is being publicized around the world, will actually generate sympathy for BDS, she said, “BDS exists and is moving forward and we must restrain it. That’s why we filed the lawsuit.”

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