A court in Israel has ordered the two New Zealand activists who published a letter urging pop star Lorde to cancel a concert in Tel Aviv earlier this year to pay damages for harming the “artistic welfare” of three Israeli artists.

The Jerusalem Post on Thursday (October 11th) reported that Judge Mirit Fohrer ruled Justine Sachs and Nadia Abu-Shanab of New Zealand must pay damages to the tune of NZ$18,000 to Israeli teenagers Shoshana Steinbach, Ayelet Wertzel and Ahuva Frogel for writing a letter to urging Lorde to cancel her concert in Tel Aviv in December 2017.

The social media pressure sparked by the letter caused the New Zealand-born pop star Lorde to cancel her June 2018 show, on the world tour for her most recent album Melodrama.

LordeLorde cancelled a June 2018 show as a result of the activists' letter

"Noted! Been speaking with many people about this and considering all options,” Lorde wrote on Twitter a few days later. “Thank u for educating me I am learning all the time too.”

The three teenagers had filed the lawsuit because they had bought tickets to the concert, but they did not seek damages from Lorde herself. They argued that their “artistic welfare” was damaged because of the cancellation, and that they had suffered “damage to their good name as Israelis and Jews”.

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The successful lawsuit may mark the first action filed under a controversial Israeli anti-boycott law, which allows civil lawsuits to be brought by anyone who can claim economic harm resulting from a boycott against Israel, against any of its institutions, or against an area under Israeli control.

The likelihood of the Israeli teens actually getting any of the money is unclear, as legal experts say the judgement was not automatically enforceable under New Zealand law. A spokesperson for the New Zealand ministry of foreign affairs said it would be up to their courts to decide whether the claim for damages was enforceable.

In a joint statement the following morning, Sachs and Abu-Shanab said they had been inundated with offers of financial assistance from around the world to help pay the damages, but had no intention of doing so.

“Our advice from New Zealand legal experts has been clear: Israel has no right to police the political opinions of people across the world,” the statement read.

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