New Zealand campaigners refuse Israel 'BDS fine' over cancelled Lorde concert, fundraise for Palestine

New Zealand campaigners refuse Israel 'BDS fine' over cancelled Lorde concert, fundraise for Palestine
New Zealand based Justine Sachs and Nadia Abu-Shanab have raised money for Palestine after refusing to pay an Israeli fine for their BDS activities.
3 min read
14 October, 2018
BDS is a nonviolent movement calling for the boycott of Israel [Getty]

Two New Zealand pro-Palestinian activists have raised thousands of dollars in donations for Palestine after being fined by Tel Aviv courts for their activities in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

Activists Justine Sachs and Nadia Abu-Shanab announced last week their refusal to pay the penalty of 45,000 shekels ($12,423.05) imposed by an Israeli court for their role in campaigning for pop star Lorde to cancel her concert in Israel last year.

The fine would have been awarded to three Israeli teenagers who suffered from “emotional distress” after not being able to see Lorde play in Tel Aviv.

Instead, Sachs and Abu-Shanab raised NZ$14,000 ($9,108.40) for the Gaza Mental Health foundation, as the humanitarian situation in the besieged enclave deteriorates.

“Our advice from New Zealand legal experts has been clear: Israel has no right to police the political opinions of people across the world. They also continue to believe that this is a stunt of which the sole intention is to intimidate Israel’s critics. We agree but are heartened by their advice. 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”, they said in a blog post defending their decision.

“Given that we’ve actually had this kind of push upon us – we felt that it was expedient to actually recenter the issue back on Palestine,” Abu-Shanab told Radio New Zealand.

Boycott Israel

Over 100 artists signed in January a pledge of support for singer Lorde after backlash for cancelling her concert.

Published in The Guardian, signatories in the open letter offered their solidarity to Lorde and commended her for her decision and “right to take a stand” after she cancelled her concert in December.

Lorde's decision was received with an outpour of support, but she was still subject to criticism, with some media outlets referring to her as an anti-Semite. 

The nonviolent BDS movement says it is inspired by the campaign that targeted South Africa's apartheid regime and is seeking an end to Israel's brutal occupation of the West Bank.

Israel sees BDS as a strategic threat and accuses it of anti-Semitism – a claim activists firmly deny, calling it an attempt to discredit them.

But the movement, which adheres to peaceful resistance, aims to pressure Israel to adhere to international law and human rights by lobbying various states, institutions and personas to understand its oppression of Palestinians and take action as a result.

BDS operates by pressuring corporations, artists and academic institutions to sever ties with Israel with supporters saying activities are aimed at promoting a Palestinian statehood.