A relative of Palestinian Mahmoud Abu Taima, who was killed during a protest at the Israel-Gaza border, mourns during his funeral in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip on May 14, 2018. Photo: SAID KHATIB/AFP/Getty Images

Justine Sachs and Nadia Abu-Shanab respond to the Israeli court ruling on their open letter to Lorde

An Israeli court has ordered Jewish New Zealander Justine Sachs and Palestinian New Zealander Nadia Abu-Shanab to pay thousands after Lorde cancelled a Tel Aviv concert. Having being flooded with offers of financial support, the women explain here why they’re keen to raise funds – not for a foreign court, but for the ordinary people of Gaza

This morning we woke up to find Israeli courts have ordered us to pay more than US $12,000 in damages to three Israeli teenagers. They have allegedly suffered emotional distress as a result of our role in Lorde cancelling her planned concert in Tel Aviv. She chose instead to respect the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign.

Last December The Spinoff published a letter we wrote encouraging Lorde not to play in Israel. The cancellation of her concert can’t be reduced to our letter. We’re just one tiny part of a growing and vibrant movement, and while we’re proud to play our part, credit goes to Lorde for having the human decency to take a stand. It also goes to every ordinary person around the world who has taken up the BDS call, and to the people of Palestine who persevere in their struggle for equality and justice.

Our advice from New Zealand legal experts has been clear: Israel has no right to police the political opinions of people across the world. They also continue to believe that this is a stunt of which the sole intention is to intimidate Israel’s critics. We agree but are heartened by their advice. We’ve contacted the relevant people in our government in the hope they can make it clear that New Zealand will not stand by and allow Israel to attempt to bully its citizens.

Since we wrote the letter, the human rights situation in Israel and Palestine has worsened.

Hundreds of unarmed protestors have been killed in Gaza, and Israel has passed new nation state laws that strip thousands of their own citizens of their rights. Despite these horrific developments, it is us, not Israel, who are being confronted with a court ordered penalty for causing distress. This is as upside-down as it gets, but sadly also a reflection of the arrogance of the Israeli state. This can only be understood as further evidence of the Israeli state’s disregard for human rights and democracy.

In a few short hours we’ve been overwhelmed with offers of financial support from New Zealand and around the world. We will not be paying the court ordered amount. Instead, we would like to use the publicity surrounding Israel’s stunt to return the attention and support back to Palestine and those paying the heaviest price for Israel’s actions. We’re launching a crowdfunding campaign aiming to raise $12,000 (or more) for The Gaza Mental Health Foundation which financially supports the work of incredible grassroots organisations such as The Gaza Community Mental Health Program among others. The Foundation will send donations in their entirety to organisations which are providing vital mental health support to the traumatised families of the Gaza Strip. Emotional distress is a lived reality for Palestinians in Gaza, where over half of children suffer PTSD as a result of Israeli attacks.

We are inspired always by Palestinians in their pursuit of basic human dignity.

Please donate at givealittle.co.nz/cause/help-justine-and-nadia-raise-money-for-mental.

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