Two New Zealanders who were fined by an Israeli court — being ordered to pay damages for being involved in the boycott of a Lorde concert in Tel Aviv — have managed to raise the money through a crowdfunding campaign. The two women, however, have decided to donate the proceeds of their fundraising campaign to charity instead.
According to The Guardian, the two women wrote the singer an open letter, urging her to cancel her June 2018 gig. The letter went viral and was an impetus behind Lorde’s decision to effectively abandon her plans to perform in Tel Aviv.
Last week, an Israeli court ruled that Justine Sachs and Nadia Abu-Shanab — the authors of the open letter — had to pay damages of over NZ$18,000 (or $11,700) to Israeli teenagers Shoshana Steinbach, Ayelet Wertzel, and Ahuva Frogel. The court claimed that the two New Zealanders had damaged the “artistic welfare” of the three Israeli teens, and had damaged “their good name as Israelis and Jews.”
Sachs and Abu-Shanab received a major outpouring of support following the court’s ruling, with people from all around the world offering to provide financial help so that the two could pay the fine. But instead of using it to pay the court-ordered damages, the two women gathered the donations through a crowdfunding campaign with the intent of raising money for the Gaza Mental Health Foundation. In only three days, they had received over 400 individual donations.
“We will not be paying the court-ordered amount. Instead, we would like to redirect the support extended to us back to Palestinians in need of mental health support,” Sachs, who is Israeli, and Abu-Shanab, who is Palestinian, said in a statement.
“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 added.
They were also advised by legal experts not to pay the fine, as they weren’t in Israel at the time they wrote the open letter in December 2017 — and because they didn’t take part in the court case in any way. They were also told that “there is little chance of Israel having the recourse to force them,” according to The Guardian. A spokesperson for the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that it would be up to the country’s courts to decide whether Israel’s claim for damages was enforceable. This would also involve the plaintiff having to launch a new case in a New Zealand court to seek out an enforcement of the ruling.
The Israeli teenagers’ lawsuit claimed that Lorde’s decision was directly influenced by Sachs and Abu-Shanab’s social media plea, according to the Grammy-winning artist’s Twitter post in the aftermath of the famous open letter.
“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. I’m not too proud to admit I didn’t make the right call on this one,” Lorde wrote at the time.