Lorde has found herself in the middle of a heated international legal dispute.
On Wednesday, an Israeli rights group Shurat HaDin, announced it will be suing two New Zealanders for allegedly convincing the singer to cancel her performance in Israel. The suit appears to be the first one filed under a 2011 Israeli anti-boycott law that provides a legal foundation for civil suits against those calling for a boycott against the Jewish state and Israeli occupied territories, provided the call could knowingly lead to a boycott. The group is seeking $13,000 in damages on behalf of three would-be Israeli concertgoers.
Just to catch y’all up, last year, fellow New Zealanders Justine Sachs and Nadia Abu-Shunab wrote a letter to Lorde urging her to “join the artistic boycott of Israel.” The singer-songwriter canceled her June 5 Tel Aviv show days later. Reportedly, Lorde also replied to a tweet of the letter, saying, “Thank u for educating me I am learning all the time too.”
After Lorde canceled her show, Israel’s ambassador to New Zealand, Dr. Itzkah Gerberg, requested to meet with the artist in an open letter he penned on Facebook. “Music is a wonderful language of tolerance and friendship, which brings people together. Your concert in Israel could have spread the message that solutions come from constructive engagement that leads to compromise and cooperation. Music should unite not divide and your performance in Israel could have contributed to the spirit of hope and peace in the Middle East,” he wrote before inviting the artist to meet with him in person.
The plaintiffs’ attorney and head Shurat HaDin said, “This lawsuit is an effort to give real consequences to those who selectively target Israel and seek to impose an unjust and illegal boycott against the Jewish state.” It may be worth noting that Sachs, one of the potential defendants, is herself Jewish. Nadia Abu-Shunab is Palestinian. The Associated Press contacted Sachs on Twitter, and she said she was not aware of any lawsuit.
Since the anti-boycott law has yet to be tested in court, Darshan-Leitner expects the case to be a difficult one to prosecute. However, she also contends that the causal relationship between the letter and Lorde’s cancellation is clear. Lorde is one of a number of artists who have canceled shows in Israel as part of what some argue is a non-violent movement to promote the Palestinian cause.