Popstars and Palestine

Free speech is one of the most cherished rights we enjoy in the West. Since the signing of the Magna Carta, free speech has acted as a check against abusive governments.

With the advent of ‘hate speech’ legislation, this ancient and noble principle has come under attacks which are unprecedented in scope and severity. The internet now allows us to speak to large audiences without relying upon system-co-opted institutions - a big problem for the crumbling neo-liberal order. Our governments have thus begun harshly cracking down on the spread of information that challenges the official narrative, in a desperate attempt to shut down the free exchange of forbidden ideas.

Just over a week ago, this campaign escalated. Now it’s not just Western governments which are attacking our liberty - now foreign governments are in on the game.

  Israel? Isn’t that the Middle East? What?

Israel? Isn’t that the Middle East? What?

Today we are forbidden from voicing opinions and supporting actions which may offend people on the other side of the planet. New Zealanders now face political persecution from Israel for writing letters.

TVNZ:

An Israeli court has ordered two Kiwi women to pay about NZ$19,000 in damages for writing a letter to Lorde asking her to not perform in Israel due to its occupation of Gaza.

Justine Sachs and Nadia Abu-Shanab appealed to the singer in an open letter in December asking her to "join the artistic boycott of Israel".

Lorde acknowledged the letter and cancelled her show days later, saying, "I have had a lot of discussions with people holding many views, and I think the right decision at this time is to cancel the show".

So two girls write a popstar a letter expressing a moral concern about a future venue, and the popstar agrees with her fans and cancels the show…

…And in response a foreign court starts an international lawsuit against the girls.

Three Israeli ticket holders, Shoshana Steinbach, Ayelet Wertzel and Ahuva Frogel, then filed a lawsuit in January under a law that allows civil lawsuits against anyone who calls for a boycott against Israel.

All three ticket holders had received refunds for the tickets, the Jerusalem Post reports, but despite that, they claimed their "artistic welfare" had been harmed by the cancellation - "and above all damage to their good name as Israelis and Jews".

So these distant foreigners aren’t upset that they wasted their money - they got a refund. They’re outraged about their ‘artistic welfare being violated’. That’s right - their ‘artistic welfare’ demands that they be able to force artists to perform in their country. Further, they must be rewarded for pursuing frivolous lawsuits against anyone on the entire planet who gets in the way of that.

Anything less would be a violation of their welfare, and an anti-Semitic hate-crime.

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Of course, ‘artistic welfare’ is a transparent excuse. The real reason for this absurd crackdown is that they don’t want a world-renowned popstar to draw attention to Israel’s decades of brazen, persistent defiance of international law. This has taken the shape of human rights violations, use of illegal weapons such as white phosphorus, and other war crimes committed against native Palestinians.

Yesterday, NZT, Judge Mirit Fohrer agreed and imposed fines of NIS$45,000, plus NIS$11,000 - this equates to about NZ$23,600 in total.

Their lawyer, Nitsana Darshan-Leitner of the Shurat HaDin advocacy group, said the decision sends a message that "no one can boycott Israel without paying for it.”

Darshan-Leitner said she intended to enforce the judgment through "international treaties" and go after the women's bank accounts, either in New Zealand or if they try to travel abroad.

The ruling is believed to be the first time the 2011 Israeli law has been applied.

There it is in black and white. Nobody on the planet is allowed to avoid supporting Israel. They know that Western governments will never call them out, no matter how vindictive and insane they act.

Israel is terrified of some girls writing a letter. So afraid of people drawing attention to their crimes that they would demand a pound of flesh from people on the other side of the planet. To do this, Israel appeals to international law - the very same law that they’ve been violently disregarding for over half a century. Yet this lawsuit was filed to ‘fight hate’.

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They want to make an example of New Zealanders to the whole world. They see us as a small, weak country that can be bullied into submission. Kiwis all over the political spectrum share a strong distaste for Israel’s behaviour. Only the elites try to defend them from serious criticism. Our government is all too willing to allow foreign countries to prey upon our country and our people - note the silence from the government on this attack on our liberty.

This ludicrous behaviour demonstrates why we need to stand up for ourselves against Israel. We’re already at the point where they’re willing to prosecute us for writing letters. If we do nothing, there’ll be no limit to their pettiness in the future. They’ll be free to violate our rights and our honour with zero consequences.

We won’t be bullied. We won’t be intimidated. We won’t allow foreign countries to dictate what we are allowed to say. We will never surrender our sacred right to speak our mind - Israeli ‘artistic welfare’ be damned.

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