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New Zealand activists raise funds for Gaza Mental Health Foundation

Oct. 19, 2018 4:41 P.M. (Updated: Oct. 22, 2018 3:54 P.M.)
Justine Sachs (left) and Nadia Abu Shanab (right)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Two New Zealand pro-Palestinian activists have raised NZ $14,000 ($9,108) for the Gaza Mental Health Foundation after an Israeli court ruling fining them for their alleged role in persuading pop star Lorde to cancel a concert in Tel Aviv last year.

The two New Zealand activists, Justine Sachs and Nadia Abu Shanab, were sued by three Israeli Lorde fans, after Lorde had cancelled her concert, claiming that the two activists are to blame for "causing emotional distress."

Despite an Israeli court that ruled for the two activists pay a fine of 45,000 shekels ($12,423), Sachs and Abu Shanab called the court's ruling a "stunt intended to intimidate Israel's critics" and refused to pay the fine.

Instead, Sachs and Abu Shanab requested donors to donate money through a website called "givealittle.co.nz" to the Gaza Mental Health Foundation, which is a volunteer group that raises funds for mental health and women's empowerment groups in the besieged Gaza Strip.

So far, they managed to raise NZ $14,000 ($9,108), according to the givealittle.co.nz website.

Abu-Shanab spoke to Radio New Zealand "Given that we've actually had this kind of push upon us, we felt that it was expedient to actually re-center the issue back on Palestine."

Their alleged involvement in persuading Lorde to cancel her concert in Tel Aviv came after the two activists wrote an open letter in December to Lorde, also a New Zealander, urging her to cancel her planned concert.

Lorde cancelled her concert in Israel the same month after a campaign by the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) group, which campaigns for Palestinian rights, that included the open letter published by Sachs and Abu Shanab, as part of its public BDS efforts.

The Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement is a global campaign promoting various forms of boycott against Israel until it meets what the campaign describes as "Israel's obligations under international law," which include its withdrawal from the occupied territories, removal of the separation wall in the occupied West Bank, full equality for Arab-Palestinian citizens in Israel, and promotion of the right of return of Palestinian refugees to their homelands, now known as Israel.

Although the BDS movement has been opposed by many Jews around the world, the movement still gained numerous supporters, including celebrities, such as Roger Waters and Stephen Hawking.

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