October 12, 2018 / 2:34 PM / 11 days ago

New Zealand pro-Palestinian activists say they won't compensate for singer's cancellation after court ruling

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Two New Zealand pro-Palestinian activists said on Friday they would not compensate three Israeli teenagers for the cancellation of a concert by singer Lorde in Tel Aviv in June.

FILE PHOTO: Singer Lorde performs at the 2018 MusiCares Person of the Year show at Radio City Music Hall in New York, January 26, 2018. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly/File Photo

Jerusalem Magistrates Court awarded the three 17-year-old girls 45,000 shekels ($12,426.48), plus costs and lawyers’ fees, according to a brief court summary of Wednesday’s ruling.

The case arose from an open letter that activists Justine Sachs and Nadia Abu-Shanab wrote to Lorde, a New Zealander, on the web site “thespinoff.co.nz” last December urging her to call off her planned concert.

Lorde cancelled her concert in Israel that same month after a campaign by the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) group, which campaigns for Palestinian rights, that included the open letter published by Sachs and Abu-Shanab.

Sachs and Abu-Shanab were not present at Wednesday’s hearing and were not believed to be in Israel. Reuters could not immediately confirm their location.

FILE PHOTO: Singer Lorde performs at the 2018 MusiCares Person of the Year show at Radio City Music Hall in New York, January 26, 2018. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly/File Photo

But they wrote on “thespinoff.co.nz” that they believed the ruling was a “stunt” intended to intimidate Israel’s critics. Instead of paying the fine, they said, they would use the publicity the ruling had created to raise at least the same amount for mental health treatment in Gaza, a Palestinian enclave under Islamist rule that is blockaded by Israel.

“We’re just one tiny part of a growing and vibrant movement, and while we’re proud to play our part, credit goes to Lorde for having the human decency to take a stand,” the two wrote.

An Israeli court spokesman said the session was heard in camera and the identity of the three plaintiffs was withheld because they were minors.

The case was pursued by Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, a Tel Aviv-based lawyer who campaigns against boycotts of Israel. She brought it on behalf of the three girls, describing them as fans of Lorde who were disappointed not to be able to see her perform.

Darshan-Leitner welcomed the ruling but conceded that it was unlikely to be enforced in New Zealand.

“As far as I know, there is no reciprocal enforcement of judgments with New Zealand, but there are agreements with other countries, such as the United States. We will be following the movement of these women and if they enter those countries or have assets there, action can be taken,” she told Reuters.

A number of international performers have cancelled shows or have refused to appear in Israel in recent years after heeding calls from the BDS. Palestinians seek statehood in territory captured by Israel in a 1967 war.

Reporting by Dan Williams, Writing by Ori Lewis; Editing by Mark Heinrich

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