Two Fans In New Zealand Are Sued Under New Law For Encouraging Singer Lorde Not To Do Israeli Concert

250px-Flag_of_New_Zealand.svg660px-flag_of_israelsvgWe recently discussed the striking down of one of the state laws barring contractors who support the boycotting of Israel.  In New Zealand, however, a similar law is in effect and a pro-Israel group is suing two people for simply encouraging pop singer Lorde not to hold a planned concert in Israel.  The lawsuit demonstrates the danger to free speech in these laws, which seeks to punish people for their political views, association, and speech.  As many on this blog know, I generally oppose any laws that curtail free speech and view the solution to bad speech to be better speech — not criminalized speech.  This has nothing to do the merits of the boycotts; only the means used to oppose such views.  I have not problem with fans or promoters suing Lorde over a cancelled concert if they lost money.  This goes to the right of people to boycott a country due to their personal or political views.


New Zealand passed a 2011 law that allows for civil lawsuits against anyone calling for a boycott against Israel, including of occupied territory.

Justine Sachs and Nadia Abu-Shanab wrote an open letter to Lorde last year urging her to “take a stand” and “join the artistic boycott of Israel.” Lorde is from New Zealand.  She responded with a tweet saying “Noted! Been speaking (with) many people about this and considering all options. Thank u for educating me i am learning all the time too.” She soon thereafter canceled her show.

The group, Shurat HaDin,  is suing on behalf of three Israeli would-be concertgoers for about $13,000 in damages.  Notably, they are not suing Lorde.  The lawsuit obviously  creates a chilling effect on speech and appears intended to do so.  Few citizens want to risk being forced into court. In this case, the writers include one Jewish and one Muslim citizen who merely wanted to express their support for the movement.

Nevertheless, Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, the head of the group and plaintiffs’ lawyer, dismisses the free speech implications of the law and insists that “They must be held to compensate Israeli citizens for the moral and emotional injury and the indignity caused by their discriminatory actions.”

I obviously disagree with such laws.  Various boycotts have been organized against countries ranging from Russia to China to Iran to South Africa in the past.  The reasons differ and there is often considerable debate over the effectiveness or fairness of such movements.  However, we have not seen laws passed to punish those for their views on either side of such debates.  Darshan-Leitner is free to organize a boycott of Lorde or write opposing public letters.  What should not be an option is to silence opposing views through criminal or civil sanctions.

22 thoughts on “Two Fans In New Zealand Are Sued Under New Law For Encouraging Singer Lorde Not To Do Israeli Concert”

  1. Israel is our most cherished ally!
    We should be able to sue these creeps from USA

  2. Israel is our most cherished and valuable ally. We should be able to sue these anti semites from the USA !

  3. Where are we headed? To a world full of people who have no opinions about anything.

  4. This is what happens when you do not protect free speech. This is why when questions arise regarding the First Amendment in our own country, we must be careful in preserving our freedoms.

  5. I think they were interfering in trade or business by encouraging a breach of contract and thus bear some responsibility since silly Lorde bought in. She oughta be sued too, but at least she was smart enough to mitigate damages by giving the ticket money back. I would protect these antisemites’ speech about as much as the bankrobber who says, “Stick ‘em up. Gimme your money!”

  6. “Two fan” are suing? Please. How many ordinary citizens even are aware this ridiculous law exists in New Zealand? This has Nastyahoo’s regime written all over it. Trying to chill support for BDS. Well if the Kiwi’s go along with such foolishness that’s on them.

  7. Once again, thanks for raising the issue. The discussion of free speech is important and so is the issue of ethnic cleansing. If individuals and groups have a policy of boycotting any entity that advances ethnic cleansing, would that be viewed as boycotting Israel?

  8. This strategy of intimidation of anyone critical of the way Israel conducts itself should be seen as a weapon. Israel has become more of a corporation than a state. The commercial protections they ask for or administer on a self defense basis are insidious. The more attention they bring to themselves by bullying major public figures, especially like young female celebrities and their fans, the more attention they will surely get.

    1. Actually, Old “Zeeland” is in Holland. And the one that is spelled the same is in Denmark. From Wiki:

      Zealand (Danish: Sjælland, pronounced [ˈɕɛˌlanˀ]), at 7,031 km2, is the largest (excluding Greenland) and most populated island in Denmark with a population of 2,287,740 (39.8% of Denmark’s total as of January 2017).[1]

      It is the 13th-largest island in Europe by area and the 4th most populous. It is connected to Funen by the Great Belt Fixed Link, to Lolland, Falster (and Germany from 2028) by the Storstrøm Bridge and the Farø Bridges. Zealand is also linked to Amager by several bridges. Zealand is linked indirectly, through intervening islands by a series of bridges and tunnels, to southern Sweden.

      Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark, is located partly on the eastern shore of Zealand and partly on the island of Amager. Other cities on Zealand include Roskilde, Hillerød, Næstved and Helsingør. Despite their identical names, the island is not connected historically to the Pacific nation of New Zealand, which is named after the Dutch province of Zeeland.

      Squeeky Fromm
      Girl Reporter

  9. If you are going to boycott, you need to be willing to pay the price (in this case $13000). This has nothing to do with free speech, it has do with damages from a cancelled concert.

    1. If the issue is objectively quantifiable damages, then Shurat HaDin should sue Lordes, as she took the decision to cancel; otherwise it most certainly has everything to do with free speech.

      1. Colin Brace – I think it has more to do with caving to the optics of the boycott. You go after the cause, not the band-aid.

  10. This is one of the reasons I have a low regard for politicians.

    How about they take a dose of their own medicine by enacting legislation that makes lying to their constituents a felony punishable by ejection from parliament and incarceration? Maybe then they might realize the direct effect of punishing ordinary people for living their lives as they see fit.

    1. Good idea, but who would make the final determination of what is a lie and what is truth?

  11. I disagree with Turley on this. I believe this is akin to shouting fire philosophicall.

    Jack Thompson

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