Israel’s attempt to chill boycott movement “has backfired”

10 Mar

NZ activists Nadia Abu-Shanab and Justine Sachs. Sachs will speak at Huwaida Arraf’s talk 7pm Weds 21 March, Science Building Auckland University.

By Nora Barrows-Friedman, The Electronic Intifada, 8 March 2018

Israel lawfare group tries to intimidate activists

An Israeli lawfare group tied to the Mossad, Israel’s deadly spy agency, announced in January it was suing two activists in New Zealand who encouraged pop singer Lorde to cancel a performance in Tel Aviv scheduled for June.

However, the activists, Justine Sachs and Nadia Abu-Shanab, told The Electronic Intifada Podcast that they have not received any official notice that they are being sued.

Since Sachs and Abu-Shanab are in New Zealand, and were exercising their free speech rights there, it is difficult to see how any Israeli judgment could be enforced.

Lorde, also from New Zealand, had called the cancellation of her gig “the right decision.”

The lawsuit was reportedly filed in Israel by the lawfare group Shurat HaDin under a 2011 law that allows Israelis to sue those who call for a boycott of Israel or its settlements built illegally on occupied Palestinian land.

The law is part of Israel’s effort to stifle speech and activism in support of Palestinian rights.

Legal bullying by Shurat HaDin by other anti-Palestinian groups is aimed at chilling speech critical of Israel and discouraging activists around the world from engaging with the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign for Palestinian rights.

The escalation of tactics against New Zealanders “has backfired,” Abu-Shanab told The Electronic Intifada Podcast.

After reports of the lawsuit broke in that country, people responded with disbelief and called on the New Zealand government to support the activists, she said.

But she cautioned that Shurat HaDin “genuinely want[s] a world where criticism of Israel is criminalized – and in some ways they’re being successful with that.”

She added that groups like Shurat HaDin will “settle for the headline, that idea that might plant a seed in someone’s head that if you’re going to do this stuff, it may come at a cost.”

Meanwhile, a Florida lawmaker is attempting to have Lorde’s upcoming concerts in that state canceled as punishment for her cancellation of the Tel Aviv show.

In his demands, Republican state representative Randy Fine is citing a Florida law that prohibits public entities in the state from entering into contracts worth $1 million or more with blacklisted entities or others who boycott Israel.

Florida is one of two dozen states around the US that has passed an anti-BDS measure. Legal experts are challenging their constitutionality in courts: a federal judge blocked the enforcement of an anti-BDS law in Kansas, and a lawsuit has been filed against a similar measure in Arizona.

In November, Fine smeared critics of a proposed expansion of the state anti-BDS bill, calling them “Nazis” and “anti-Semites.”

“Quite terrifying”

Sachs noted that the escalated state repression against the boycott movement, particularly in the US, is “quite terrifying.”

But Lorde listened to her fans and cancelled her performance, invigorating the boycott movement, Sachs noted.

The activists referred to a growing generational divide as Israel continues to lose support from young people around the world.

“Zionist establishments are particularly worried because younger people live in a politicized time and they have a growing conscience about injustice locally and internationally,” Sachs told The Electronic Intifada Podcast.

Lorde is “a cultural ambassador for where we’re at,” Abu-Shanab said.

When fans of Lorde who had not been active in Palestine solidarity “heard about the fact that people were asking her to respect the boycott call and did some reading on it, they immediately understood what that meant and they immediately thought it was the right thing to do,” she added.

There is also memory of the country’s mobilization behind the anti-apartheid South Africa campaign, the activists say.

“I think we’re reaching more of a consensus in this country about boycotts being a reasonable action to take in a context of Israeli impunity,” Abu-Shanab said.

Listen to the interview with Justine Sachs and Nadia Abu-Shanab, and sounds from the Oakland rally in support of Ahed Tamimi, via the music player above.

[Article abridged. Ed]

Production assistance and music by Sharif Zakout

Subscribe to The Electronic Intifada Podcast on Apple Podcasts (search for The Electronic Intifada). Support our podcast by rating us and leaving a review.



One Response to “Israel’s attempt to chill boycott movement “has backfired””

  1. seachranaidhe1 March 11, 2018 at 3:00 am #

    Reblogged this on seachranaidhe1.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: