A court in Israel has ordered two women from New Zealand to pay damages after they harmed the “artistic welfare” of three teenagers when Lorde cancelled a planned show in Tel Aviv.
Judge Mirit Rohrer says that New Zealanders Nadia Abu-Shanab and Justine Sachs must pay damages of more than NZ$18,000 (£8,889) to teenagers Ayelet Wertzel, Ahuva Frogel and Shoshana Steinbach after they wrote an open letter that urged the singer to cancel the performance.
The case is believed to be the first use of an Israeli law introduced in 2011, which allowed civil lawsuits for anyone who encouraged a boycott of Israel.
The teenage claimants claimed that their “artistic welfare” was compromised, as well as “damage to their good name as Israelis and Jews”, according to The Guardian.
But it remains unlikely that they will receive the court awarded sum. The judgement is not enforceable under New Zealand law, and it is unlikely that the women will be forced to pay as they were not in Israel when they initially wrote the letter.
Lorde was scheduled to play Tel Aviv in June this year, but cancelled the concert in December 2017 in the face of overwhelming pressure.
— Amy Spiro (@AmySpiro) December 24, 2017
“I have had a lot of discussions with people holding many views, and I think the right decision at this time is to cancel the show,” Lorde wrote at the time.
She added: “I’m not too proud to admit I didn’t make the right call on this one.”
Responding to the verdict in a joint statement, Abu-Shanab and Sachs say they have been messaged with offers of financial assistance – but they have no intention of taking them.
Instead, they have started a crowdfunding page to raise funds for The Gaza Mental Health Foundation.
“Our advice from New Zealand legal experts has been clear: Israel has no right to police the political opinions of people across the world,” a statement read.
“They also continue to believe that this is a stunt of which the sole intention is to intimidate Israel’s critics … We’ve contacted the relevant people in our government in the hope they can make it clear that New Zealand will not stand by and allow Israel to attempt to bully its citizens.”
Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, president of the Shurat HaDin NGO, described the case as “precedent-setting” and confirmed that the ruling will be pursued.
“We will enforce this ruling in New Zealand and go after their bank accounts until it has been fully realised”, she said.