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Israel group to sue New Zealanders for backing Lorde boycott

Pop star Lorde performs on stage [Annette Geneva/`flickr]

An Israeli legal rights group announced earlier today that it would be suing two New Zealanders for their part in encouraging singer Lorde to cancel her concert in Tel Aviv last month, according to Ynet News.

The Shurat HaDin group claims the New Zealanders, one Jewish and one Palestinian, penned an open letter knowing that it could trigger a boycott. This makes them open to a suit under a 2011 Israeli bill that allows a case to be brought against anyone calling for a boycott of Israel, knowing it could take place. This is the first lawsuit to be filed under the controversial bill.

Justine Sachs and Nadia Abu-Shanab penned an open letter to Lorde last year in which they urged her to “take a stand” and “join the artistic boycott of Israel”. The New Zealand singer-songwriter replied in a tweet stating: “Noted! Been speaking [with] many people about this and considering all options. Thank u for educating me I am learning all the time too.” She cancelled her show two days later.

The New Zealanders are being sued for $13,000 in damages by three would-be concert goers who enlisted Shurat HaDin to act on their behalf. The Israeli law which the case will be filed under is part of a broader government effort to tackle those who support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

Read: British L’Oreal model steps down after tweets criticising Israel uncovered

Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, the group’s head and a lawyer, said whilst the law had not yet been tested in court, she believed the connection between the New Zealanders and the subsequent cancellation was clear, claiming that the first time Lorde brought up her reservations on the Tel Aviv performance was after the pair’s letter.

Israel has long held a vendetta against individuals and businesses that choose to boycott Israel in protest of the ongoing occupation of the Palestinian territories. It has accused those who support BDS of being anti-Semitic and has applied pressure on foreign organisations and universities to oppose the movement.

Last summer, Amnesty International launched a new campaign calling for a ban on settlement-made products; Israel responded by threatening action against the NGO.

Last year, the UN also began compiling a list of businesses that continue to do business with settlements in the illegally occupied territories; numerous Palestinian bodies and international organisations have urged the UN to make its findings public.

Earlier this month Israel moved to publish a blacklist of its own, listing 22 NGOs from Europe, the United States, South America and Africa, whose employees or members are banned from entering Israel due to their alleged support of the BDS campaign.

Read: UK university accused of ‘whitewashing’ Israel apartheid

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