In the 1980s, the pop music industry which was then at the height of its economic prowess, came together to boycott Apartheid South Africa as a matter of solidarity with the people oppressed by the racist regime in Pretoria. Today, a similar but far more derided movement targeting “Israel” exists. It is known as the Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS) movement. The movement’s leaders try to peacefully persuade citizens throughout the world to cease doing any business activities that could enrich the occupier regime.
One of the most outspoken supporters of BDS from the international artistic community is Pink Floyd co-founder Roger Waters who often pens open letters to fellow musicians considering performing in occupied Palestine.
Recently, the young New Zealand pop singer Lorde was booked to perform in Tel Aviv but after claiming to have educated herself on the subject, she decided to cancel the performance in solidarity with the BDS movement and the people of Palestine.
Since then, two BDS activists who are both citizens of New Zealand have been sued by a group in Israel called Shurat HaDin which seeks to use an obscure “Israeli” law from 2011, which allows those who boycott the occupier entity to be sued for money or services allegedly lost on the part of “Israelis” due to an international economic boycott. According to the lawsuit, Shurat HaDin seeks $13,000 not form Lorde herself but from Nadia Abu-Shanab and Justine Sachs, the two BDS activists in new Zealand who played a part in persuading Lorde to cancel her would-be Tel Aviv concert.
Apart from the cynical nature of such a lawsuit, seeking to extract a large sum of money from two activists who never stood to profit a penny whether Lorde did or did not perform in Tel Aviv, the issue raises more wide reaching questions regarding New Zealand’s national and judicial sovereignty.
Whatever happens in a Tel Aviv courtroom regarding the matter, New Zealand should make it clear that an “Israeli” court has no jurisdiction over its citizens and that specifically, whatever happens in an “Israeli” court should have no impact on the lives of Nadia Abu-Shanab and Justine Sachs.
A regime with no legitimacy on its own land–land stolen from Palestine, should not be taken seriously by any country in the world and furthermore, all nations ought to protect their citizens from harassment by the rogue regime.
While experts on the matter do not think that the legal stunt pulled by Shurat HaDin will lead to anything, New Zealand must nevertheless make it clear that the rights of its citizens to engage in peaceful free speech and peaceful activism must not come under fire due to the whims of rogue elements in a rogue regime.