Great moments in Israeli law

The New Zealand singer Lorde had scheduled a concert in Israel but later canceled it when Justine Sachs and Nadia Abu-Shanab, two young women in New Zealand, one Jewish and the other Palestinian, started a petition that asked her to not go because of Israel’s apartheid-like policies against Palestinians in Gaza and the Occupied Territories.

So what happened? Three young Israelis filed a legal case against Sachs and Abu-Shanab, claiming that “their “artistic welfare” was damaged because of the cancellation and that they suffered “damage to their good name as Israelis and Jews”.

No, really!

Justine Sachs and Nadia Abu-Shanab

So did the judge in the case burst out laughing before telling the plaintiffs not to waste his time by suing people halfway across the world for what they said and making ridiculous claims about the damage they suffered? No, because this is Israel we are talking about. In 2011, Israel passed a law that allows people to sue anyone who encourages boycotts of Israel and the judge ruled against the two New Zealanders.

Judge Mirit Fohrer ruled that Justine Sachs and Nadia Abu-Shanab of New Zealand must pay damages to Israeli teenagers Shoshana Steinbach, Ayelet Wertzel and Ahuva Frogel totalling more than NZ$18,000 for writing a letter urging the singer to cancel her concert in Tel Aviv, the Jerusalem Post reports.

It is believed to be the first effective use of a 2011 Israeli law allowing civil lawsuits of anyone who encourages a boycott of Israel.

Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, president of the Shurat HaDin NGO, who filed the suit called the ruling “precedent-setting”.

“This decision makes it clear that anyone who calls for a boycott against the state of Israel could find themselves liable for damages and need to pay compensation to those hurt by the boycott call, if they’re in Israel or outside it,” Darshan-Leitner told the Jerusalem Post.

“We will enforce this ruling in New Zealand and go after their bank accounts until it has been fully realised.”

Yes, indeedy, Israelis think that they have the right to sue anyone anywhere in the world who supports a boycott. Good luck with getting courts in New Zealand, or anywhere else in the world for that matter (except possibly the US), to agree to this. So come on, Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, go ahead and sue me since I have said many nice things about the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

Apparently Sachs and Abu-Shanab have been inundated with support and have received more money than the fine levied. They are not going to pay the fine but are instead donating the money to the Gaza Mental Health Foundation.

Meanwhile, another case before the Israeli courts is that of an American woman who was denied entry to Israel to attend Hebrew University for a course because she had formerly belonged to a group that supported the BDS movement.

The arrogance of Israel in thinking it has the right to police speech everywhere in the world is astounding. It is no wonder that Israel, the US, and Saudi Arabia are such tight allies. They all share the idea that they can do whatever they want.


  1. Holms says

    I can only assume this will prompt far more people to criticise Israel. Let them try to sue the entire world.

  2. jrkrideau says

    Well, for a great moment in US law:

    A judge in the US has issued a default judgement requiring Iran to pay more than $6bn to victims of the September 11, 2001 attacks that killed almost 3,000 people, court filings show.

    Monday’s ruling in the case -- Thomas Burnett, Sr et al v. The Islamic Republic of Iran et al -- finds “the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, and The Central Bank of the Islamic Republic of Iran” liable for the deaths of more than 1,000 people as a result of the September 11 attacks, Judge George B Daniels of the Southern District Court of New York wrote.

    That Israeli judgment is all sorts of wrong but the New York judgement is totally farcical.

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