It is terrifying to think that any nation on Earth can stifle free will and free speech to such an extraordinary degree, and that any nation can consider itself so untouchable that no one is permitted to criticize or even question their policies and actions without “legal” repercussions. Since so many nations, organisations and artists are choosing to boycott Israel, perhaps Israel ought to be reflecting on why this is so rather than simply lashing out against detractors? Of course that’s never going to happen: Israel would rather stifle freedom than suffer criticism and boycott.
An Israeli court has ordered two Kiwi women to pay about NZ$19,000 in damages for writing a letter to Lorde asking her to not perform in Israel due to its occupation of Gaza.
Justine Sachs and Nadia Abu-Shanab appealed to the singer in an open letter in December asking her to “join the artistic boycott of Israel”.
Lorde acknowledged the letter and cancelled her show days later, saying, “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”.
Three Israeli ticket holders, Shoshana Steinbach, Ayelet Wertzel and Ahuva Frogel, then filed a lawsuit in January under a law that allows civil lawsuits against anyone who calls for a boycott against Israel.
All three ticket holders had received refunds for the tickets, the Jerusalem Post reports, but despite that, they claimed their “artistic welfare” had been harmed by the cancellation – “and above all damage to their good name as Israelis and Jews”.
Yesterday, NZT, Judge Mirit Fohrer agreed and imposed fines of NIS$45,000, plus NIS$11,000 – this equates to about NZ$23,600 in total.
Their lawyer, Nitsana Darshan-Leitner of the Shurat HaDin advocacy group, said the decision sends a message that “no one can boycott Israel without paying for it.”
Darshan-Leitner said she intended to enforce the judgment through “international treaties” and go after the women’s bank accounts, either in New Zealand or if they try to travel abroad.
The ruling is believed to be the first time the 2011 Israeli law has been applied.
“…The Israel Anti-Boycott Act is designed to stifle efforts to protest Israel’s settlement policies by boycotting businesses in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories. The bill’s particular target is the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement, a global campaign that seeks to apply economic and political pressure on Israel to comply with international law.
Whether one approves or disapproves of the BDS movement itself, people should have a right to make up their own minds about it. Americans engage in boycotts every day when they decide not to buy from companies whose practices they oppose. Students have boycotted companies that sold clothing manufactured in sweatshops abroad. Environmentalists have boycotted Nestlé for its deforestation practices. By using their power in the marketplace, consumers can act collectively to express their political points of view. There is nothing illegal about such collective action; indeed, it is constitutionally protected…” (source: Washington Post, link in header)