Opinion– The Lorde saga has now reached new riveting heights. Just a few months ago on December 21st, 2017 two young female fans from Aotearoa, New Zealand wrote an open letter urging Lorde to cancel her Tel Aviv concert, scheduled for June of this year. A few days later Lorde a 21-year-old singer and songwriter canceled her Tel Aviv show. This quickly prompted outspoken celebrity Rabbi Shmuley Boteach to take out a full-page “ad” in the Washington Post to initiate a smear campaign against the New Zealand artist. In his ad, the rabbi falsely claims Lorde is a “bigot” and calls her a “hypocrite”. Soon after the Tel Aviv concert was canceled, three Israeli teenagers sued the activists that wrote the open letter.
This tale of vindictive Zionist retaliation against freedom of speech and expression as well as the right to support BDS takes another interesting turn now that Florida State Representative Randy Fine has joined the circus act. Fine is calling for entertainment venues in Miami and Tampa to cancel their June shows for the popular songwriter and singer or face financial penalties.
In the open letter to Lorde written by a Jewish/Palestinian duo Justine Sachs and Nadia Abu-Shanab which prompted Lorde to cancel her concert in Tel Aviv, the activists stated:
The two of us work together (with others) for peace and justice in the Middle East and an end to Israeli apartheid. People often will say that the Israel-Palestine debacle is melodrama that dates back millennia. Thing is, like with a lot of situations of oppression, it’s actually quite straightforward once you start hearing about what’s really happening.”
They also stated:
Today, millions of people stand opposed to the Israeli government’s policies of oppression, ethnic cleansing, human rights violations, occupation and apartheid. As part of this struggle, we believe that an economic, intellectual and artistic boycott is an effective way of speaking out against these crimes. This worked very effectively against apartheid in South Africa, and we hope it can work again.”
#Lorde is receiving a ton of backlash for her principled stance to not perform in "Israel". Let's show her that there are those who stand by her decision. Tweet to show your support, buy her CD #melodrama or go to her other concerts. #boycottisrael https://t.co/nULDCPa366
— Sarah Abed (@sarahabed84) January 1, 2018
Rabbi Shmuel Boteach speaking to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie at the World Values Network headquarters, Jan. 7, 2016, in New York. (AP/Mary Altaffer)
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach’s Twitter account caption touts: “Rabbi Shmuley whom Newsweek & Wash Post call ”the most famous Rabbi in America” is a world-renowned author of 31 books, broadcaster & relationships expert.” Shmuley who has taken out a full-page ad calling Lorde a bigot and hypocrite is no stranger to controversy.
In 2016 journalist Rob Bryan wrote a revealing report on the rabbi for Alternet. In his article, he made some interesting points, which include, the rabbi’s fraudulent charity closing down, his anti-Palestinian incitement and that the rabbi’s main source of income comes from the World Values Network which pads his pockets with six figures annually.
Help Publish our Ad Against #LordeBDS in America’s Leading Outlets. Need your help now. https://t.co/FEzcTDyYg8 pic.twitter.com/as3jlcVVvj
— Rabbi Shmuley (@RabbiShmuley) December 29, 2017
As a result of expressing their views in their open letter to Lorde, Ms. Sachs and Ms. Abu-Shanab are now caught in a legal battle which was brought on by three Israeli fans of Lorde who will be joining the IDF next year.
The Washington Post reported:
On Wednesday, Shurat HaDin, the Israel Law Center, announced it had filed a lawsuit on behalf of three Israeli teenagers — fans of the Grammy Award winner who had purchased tickets to her Tel Aviv concert — against two New Zealand-based activists linked to the BDS (Boycott Divestment and Sanctions) Movement who it says persuaded Lorde to reconsider performing in Tel Aviv.”
The Plaintiffs were reimbursed the cost of their concert tickets but according to the lead attorney on the case and president of Shurat HaDin, Nitsana Darshan-Leitner this lawsuit isn’t just about money. Ms. Darshan-Leitner stated, “It is also about making a statement that Israel will fight back from now on against those who call to boycott it,” she said. “Israeli citizens will not sit quietly against these calls. We want people to know that there is a price to pay for boycotting Israel.”
Whether it’s a case of bruised teenage egos or the teenagers are conveniently being utilized as a front for a ridiculous legal case, is debatable. What is clear, however, is that the BDS movement is causing Israel severe angst. As a result, Israeli aggression is ramping up against the successful movement, whether it be through the “legal” system by creating lawsuits such as this or on the ground as we have recently seen with Ahed Tamimi and the mistreatment of Palestinians.
According to the New York Times:
In 2011, the Israeli Knesset passed a law allowing civil litigation by anyone who can claim economic harm from a boycott against Israel, any of its institutions, or an area under Israeli control. The law drew fierce criticism from Israeli civil liberties groups, who called it a violation of free speech rights, but in 2015, the Supreme Court upheld the bulk of it.
Both advocates and opponents of the measure say the suit over Lorde’s cancellation is the first action filed under the law. If it succeeds, it could have broad implications for the growing movement in the United States, Europe and elsewhere to boycott, divest from and sanction Israel, primarily in protest against its settlement and security practices in the West Bank. The movement is known as B.D.S.”
Florida Rep. Randy Fine, R-debates on the invest Florida section of the budget, June 9, 2017. (AP/Steve Cannon)
Florida Representative Randy Fine is calling for venues in Tampa and Miami to cancel concerts scheduled to take place in April for New Zealand singer Lorde.
“BDS is an antisemitic, terrorist movement and we should not force taxpayers to subsidize it,” State Representative Randy Fine (R-Palm Bay) told The Algemeiner on Friday.
According to The Algemeiner, “In letters to the Miami Sports and Exhibition Authority and the Tampa Sports Authority, Fine warned that Lorde’s April performances would violate Florida law, which bars state and local governments from conducting business exceeding $1 million with any organization engaged in a boycott of Israel.”
“Florida has no tolerance for antisemitism and boycotts intended to destroy the State of Israel,” Fine wrote. “That’s why Florida passed groundbreaking anti-BDS legislation several years ago … Current statues are clear — local governments cannot do business with companies that participate in antisemitic boycotts of Israel.”
Florida Rep. of District 53 Randy Fine calls BDS activists “terrorists” and “pathetic loser” in private messages
BDS activists in the United States took to Facebook and sent direct messages to Rep. Fine to express their disagreement with Fine’s pro-Israeli stance and calls for boycotting Lorde’s concert. The screenshots and direct quotes from the activists below were sent directly to me for the purpose of publishing them in this article.
Suhair Nafal a Palestinian-American Christian BDS Activist living in Illinois with a background working for corporate America stated, “This US ‘lawmaker’ could not be more un-American. He is blatantly disrespecting our 1st Amendment by pushing to disallow an international pop star to perform in Florida. All because she stood on the right side of History by canceling her performance in an apartheid state. This gentleman’s Allegiance seems to be much stronger for a foreign entity than it is for his own country.”
Below are Ms. Nafal’s private messages with Mr. Fine:
Florida native and BDS activist Palestinian American Zaina Masri stated:
I am a Florida native, born and raised, Fine was extremely racist by calling us Palestinians, terrorists. I will not be silenced here in Florida, and I am not a terrorist as he implied on his post. It makes me feel angry and frustrated to be called a terrorist because I speak out against the ethnic cleansing of my people. Boycotting apartheid is my right as an American citizen”. Masri also stated, “I have nieces here in Florida Ahed Tamimi’s age. They want to attend the Lorde concert but now another Zionist is trying to take that away. Just like Ahed, we are being punished with rights and privileges taken away because we support Palestinian Human rights. It’s crazy! I will boycott israeli apartheid until Palestinians have basic and equal rights according to international law and basic moral codes of decency”.
Ahed Tamimi who is being referenced in the above quotes by Zaina Masri, is an iconic 17-year-old Palestinian activist from Nabi Saleh, who has made headlines for confronting armed Israeli soldiers. She is scheduled to be tried by Israeli court Tuesday February 13th, confronting two armed Israeli soldiers that would not leave from her property.
Dan Frank an American BDS activist who resides in Washington D.C. and ran for US Congress in 2008 as an Independent with the Constitution Party also exchanged messages with Fine.
Below are Mr. Frank’s private messages with Mr. Fine:
Alice Carpenter, a Palestinian-American New York native, BDS activist had the following interactions with Mr. Fine:
Protesters hold up placards reading ‘Boycott Israel’ during a demonstration showing solidarity with Palestinians in Paris, France, 31 July 2014. (Christpohe Karaba/EPA)
Amidst opposition of the BDS movement by Pro-Israel mouthpieces such as Florida State Rep. Randy Fine and Celebrity Rabbi Shmuley Boteach the BDS movement is growing in membership and support and was recently nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.
According to the BDS movements official website earlier this month, “Norwegian parliamentarian Bjørnar Moxnes has officially nominated the BDS movement for Palestinian rights for a Nobel Peace Prize. He did so with the support of his party, the progressive Rødt (Red) Party, explaining why BDS “should be supported without reservation by all democratically-minded people and states.”
Supporting BDS comes at a hefty price that activists are willing to pay
Freedom of speech, freedom of artistic expression, and freedom to participate in BDS should all be basic human rights. BDS upholds the simple principle that Palestinians should have the same rights as the rest of humanity.
Unfortunately, however, threats, as well as legal, and financial repercussions from individuals that are benefiting from supporting the occupier state of Israel, will most likely increase as the BDS movement grows. Today more than ever, taking a stance against Israeli aggression towards Palestinians comes at a hefty price. But for many in the growing BDS movement, it is one that they are willing to pay.
Top Photo | Singer Lorde performs on the ‘Other Stage’ at the Glastonbury music festival at Worthy Farm, in Somerset, England, June 23, 2017. (Photo: Grant Pollard/Invision/AP)
Sarah Abed is an independent journalist and political commentator, covering a broad range of issues relating to the Syrian war, Kurdish issues in Iraq and Syria, as well as U.S policy in the Middle East. She appears frequently in international media and speaks at universities. See more of her work at her personal blog: The Rabbit Hole.
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