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Israeli court fines two Kiwi activists $23,600 over Lorde boycott letter

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.

Ella Yelich-O'Connor, better known as Lorde, with her six Tui Awards at the Vodafone New Zealand Music Awards 2017.
Ella Yelich-O'Connor, better known as Lorde, with her six Tui Awards at the Vodafone New Zealand Music Awards 2017. Source: Luke Appleby/1 NEWS