Palestinian Rights Organization Challenges Meritless Lawsuit


06 Mar 2020

Case is Part of Broader Assault on Human Rights Defenders

March 6, 2020, Washington, DC – Last night, the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights (USCPR) moved to dismiss a meritless lawsuit filed against it by the Jewish National Fund (JNF) and several individuals. Human rights attorneys say the lawsuit targets USCPR’s support of Palestinian rights and is intended to chill them from engaging in constitutionally protected advocacy. 

“The fact that we’re under attack is no surprise: human rights defenders around the world are under attack from repressive regimes and their allies. This lawsuit is part of this global, right-wing assault on civil society and movements seeking to build a better future for all,” said Ramah Kudaimi, US Campaign for Palestinian Rights Deputy Director. “We will not be intimidated, and our work dedicated to the rights of the Palestinian people—work that is grounded in the principles of equal rights, justice, and freedom for all—will continue.”

Attorneys say the lawsuit makes outlandish claims, casting collective activism and expressions of solidarity as unlawful. Plaintiffs base their far-fetched accusations of conspiracy and material support for terrorism on USCPR’s support for Palestinian rights, including for boycotts, divestment, and sanctions against Israel until it complies with international law. Their claims also rely on USCPR’s criticism of Israel’s unlawful use of force against Palestinian demonstrators in Gaza who are demanding their internationally recognized right of return to their homes, as well as its participation in the Stop the JNF Campaign aimed at exposing and challenging the JNF’s role in dispossessing Palestinians of their land. 

In arguing for dismissal of JNF’s lawsuit against USCPR, attorneys emphasized the threat to free speech and association if a group of activists can be sued on such tenuous theories of liability.

“Anyone who cares about civil liberties and human rights should be deeply concerned by the frivolous and malicious lobbing of accusations of conspiracy and terrorism at a human rights organization,” said Diala Shamas, a staff attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights. “This case is part of a broader and well-resourced effort to attack advocates for Palestinian rights—whether through anti-boycott legislation, university administrations silencing student activists, or meritless lawsuits filed against supporters of Palestinian human rights. We will continue to support movements as they advocate for rights and dignity.” 

The JNF, or Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael, is a quasi-state institution in Israel that acquires and administers land for the sole benefit of Jewish people. The JNF has been instrumental in the Israeli state’s dispossession of the Palestinian people. While the JNF has been the target of lawsuits for its discriminatory policies, this is the first time it has tried to use US courts to silence critics.

Lawyers say the lawsuit is part of a broad and growing pattern of suppressing activism in support of Palestinian rights, a phenomenon that the Center for Constitutional Rights and Palestine Legal have documented and called the “Palestine Exception” to free speech. The organizations report the widespread use of administrative disciplinary actions, harassment, firings, legislative attacks, false accusations of terrorism and antisemitism, and baseless legal complaints. Palestine Legal has responded to 1,494 incidents of suppression targeting speech supportive of Palestinian rights between 2014 and 2019. See 2019 Year in Review

The Center for Constitutional Rights is counsel in JNF v. US Campaign for Palestinian Rights with cooperating counsel Judith Chomsky, Beth Stephens, and Michael Deutsch.

For more information, visit the Center for Constitutional Rights’ case page.

 The Center for Constitutional Rights works with communities under threat to fight for justice and liberation through litigation, advocacy, and strategic communications. Since 1966, the Center for Constitutional Rights has taken on oppressive systems of power, including structural racism, gender oppression, economic inequity, and governmental overreach. Learn more at ccrjustice.org.

Follow the Center for Constitutional Rights on social media: Center for Constitutional Rights on Facebook, @theCCR on Twitter, and ccrjustice.org on Instagram.

Oppose the Israeli Annexation of Palestinian Land

This is a new group in the LaCrosse area that is becoming more active on Palestinian issues. Please consider signing and circulating this petition.

COULEE REGION COALITION FOR PALESTINIAN RIGHTS, 3/6/20

To: Our elected officials
From: [Your Name]

We urgently oppose the threatened annexation by Israel of Palestinian land in the West Bank.

Israel has militarily occupied the West Bank since 1967, and has since built an extensive network of illegal Jewish settlements and connecting roads. There are now over 600,000 Jewish settlers in the West Bank.

Netanyahu and Gantz, leaders of the two largest Israeli political parties, have been emboldened to ​break international law through annexation ​of this territory by the release of the Trump administration’s ‘Deal of the Century’ on January 20, 2020.

The annexation envisioned in that plan includes the fertile Jordan Valley in addition to those settlements and roads. Palestinian land is already fragmented into enclaves of villages, farms and a handful of densely populated cities – comparable to the Bantustans of Apartheid South Africa.

Annexation would extend, legalize and attempt to make permanent this theft of Palestinian land by making it part of Israel.

The US provides $3.8 billion of military aid to Israel each year. These are our tax dollars being used to prop up an Israeli state that violently suppresses Palestinian human rights and now plans to steal their land.

We call on you, as our elected official, to announce publicly that you will support legislation withdrawing all military funding to Israel if it proceeds with this illegal annexation of Palestinian land.

New Rafah School Water Filter Donation Premium

Available for a limited time! Can you help put us over the top?

Dear Friends,

We are happy to report that we are less than $1,500 away from funding the latest Maia Project clean water filter system for a school in Rafah, Palestine.

This will be the fifth Maia filter provided to Rafah schools through the efforts of MRSCP and other citizens of Madison.

Thanks so much to those who have contributed to this project.

We need to raise the balance of the $16,000 needed to provide clean, safe water for 2,200 students at the the Al-Shuka Preparatory school in Rafah by March 29, the date of the Rachel Corrie Freedom is the Future fundraiser, this year featuring Tarek Abuata of Friends of Sabeel North America (FOSNA).


For a limited time, we are offering a premium of a 22 oz. Trek II aluminum refillable water bottle with this Maia logo for all donations of at least $60.00.

Donations of $80 or more can also receive a red/black/white & green GAZA logo pin. Get ’em before they are gone!

The bottle premiums will first be available this Saturday, Feb. 29 10 am – 5 pm at our table at the International Festival at Overture Center. You can make your donation in person and walk away with your premiums in hand!

If you can’t stop by, you can send a check payable to MRSCP marked “water” to:

    MRSCP
    P.O. Box 5214
    Madison, WI 53705

Please indicate if you would like the premium(s). They can be picked up at the Rachel Corrie event on March 29, where donations will also be accepted. If you can’t make it there, we will make alternate arrangements … be sure to include a phone number where we can call you.

If you don’t want a premium you can also donate online at MECA.

Another option is to purchase some Holy Land Olive Oil from MRSCP; $3 of every bottle sold will go toward the Maia Project. The new shipment has two sizes: 750 ml for $25, and 500 ml for $20. Six-packs are also available at a discount. If interested in buying oil, please come to our events or email veena.brekke at gmail.com.

As always, many thanks for your help in providing clean, safe water to kids in Gaza. We couldn’t do it without you.

Sincerely,
Barb O.
Coordinator, MRSCP

All contributions are tax deductible; if you donate online, Middle East Children’s Alliance, the Maia Project sponsor, will send you a receipt; if you send a check, MRSCP will send you one in January 2021.

Find out more about the water crisis in Gaza that has rendered over 95% of the water unfit for human use.

2019 Index of Racism and Incitement in Israeli Social Media

Israeli elections were the primary reason for increasing incitement against Arabs

Arab Center for the Advancement of Social Media, 27th Feb 2020

– One violent post against Arabs and Palestinians every 64 seconds
– 495,000 violent posts against Arabs and Palestinians in 2019
– The Joint List and its leaders were the primary subjects of violent discourse in 2019

7amleh – The Arab Center for the Advancement of Social Media, published the results of its annual Index of Racism and Incitement in Israeli Social Media in 2019. The research revealed that the peak of incitement against Palestinians and Arabs in 2019 was correlated with the two rounds of Israeli election. It also shows that there was a 14% rise in violent discourse towards Arabs and Palestinians, with one violent post every 64 seconds, and at least one out of every 11 posts about Arabs using inciting language. 

In 2019, there was also a rise in the number and percentage of inciting posts in 2019. Nearly 495,000 out of 5.4 million posts about Arabs were violent posts, including racist and inciting slurs and biased language against the Arab and Palestinian community. These statistics indicate a 5% rise in inciting posts in comparison to 2018 statistics which showed that 464,000 out of 4.7 million posts about Arabs included violent statements. 

Continue reading

Homes Demolished in South Hebron Hills


Hello friends,

On the morning of February 27 Israeli forces arrived in the small Palestinian village of Isfaiy and used a bulldozer to demolish a barn for sheep and goats. They then drove to the small cluster of houses that is the village of al Rakeez, South Hebron Hills, and demolished two homes, leaving three families homeless.

The villages are part of an area claimed by Israel as firing zone 918 and used for war games and training. Residents of the area have been fighting in court for years for the right to remain in their homes, meanwhile it is impossible for them to obtain building permits from Israel, and Israeli authorities frequently arrive in the area to deliver stop working and demolition orders for homes, agricultural buildings, schools and mosques.

Israeli authorities have demolished more than 30 Palestinian structures during the month of February, including the unrecognized Bedouin village of al Araqib which has been demolished 174th times since 2010.

HAPPENING NOW: Israeli armed forces are demolishing a Palestinian house in Ar Rakeez village, south Hebron hills

Posted by Operation Dove on Thursday, February 27, 2020

 
Thank you so much for caring about the daily lives and struggles of the people who live here.

March 6-7, 2020
INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE: REFUGEES IN/FROM THE MIDDLE EAST

Policy Implications, Education, and Artistic Representations

 

Pyle Center
720 Langdon St
UW-Madison

 

This interdisciplinary conference brings together scholars from the social sciences and humanities who examine forced migration within the context of the Middle East.

Conference Program

Friday, March 6, 4 to 6 pm
Mohamad Hafez Keynote Lecture “HOMELAND inSECURITY”
Nancy Nicholas Hall (co-sponsored with the School of Human Ecology, 1300 Linden Drive)

Syrian artist and architect Mohamad Hafez will offer a very personal view of what it’s like for an upper-middle class Damascene family to become forced migrants – their lives before and after, decision points, forced hands, and adjustment to new realities.  This will be an opportunity to better understand what the biggest humanitarian crisis since World War II looks like to an individual and family who have been through it. Mr. Hafez creates mixed and multi-media sculptures representing Middle Eastern streetscapes and buildings besieged by civil war, deliberately contrasted with hopeful verses from the Quran, audio recordings from his homeland, and other elements of his Islamic heritage.

Saturday, March 7 (313 Pyle Center, 702 Langdon St, Madison, 53706)
9:00 to 10:45: Panel 1. National, Regional, and Global Policy toward Refugees:

  • Marcia Inhorn (Yale University) “America’s Wars and Iraqis’ Lives: Refugee Vulnerabilities and Reproductive Exile in “Arab Detroit”
  • Yasemin Ipek (George Mason University) “Humanitarian Refugees in Turkey: Syrian Support for Syrians”
  • Sarah Alghamdi (York University) “Examining the Prospects for Refugee Rights in Tunisia”.

11:00 to 12:45: Panel 2. Refugees, Education, and Identity:

  • Alyssa Bivins (George Washington University) “The Myth of Apolitical Education Development: The Politics of UNESCO’s Education Policies for Palestinian Refugees, 1950s-1980s”
  • Sara Farsiu (University of Wisconsin-Madison) “Understanding Ethnically-Framed Conflicts: An Analysis of the Portrayals of Arabs in Iranians’ Speech”
  • Eileen Kennedy and Elaine Chase (University College London) “How Can Digital Technology Support Transformative Education?”

1:00 to 2:30: lunch and break

2:30 to 4:15:  Panel 3. Refugees and Artistic Representations: 

  • Seref Kavak (École des hautes études en sciences sociales, France) “Cultural Security and Publicness: Syrian Musicians on the Streets of Istanbul”
  • Dina A. Ramadan (Bard College) “Refugees in the Art Museum”
  • Hakim Abderrezak (University of Minnesota) “Illiterature and the Seametery”.

4:30 to 5:30:  Round table: Refugees in the 21st century: Building Alternatives to Walls, Dehumanization, and Discrimination. Drawing on the experiences of refugees in/from the Middle East, panelists will reflect on practices and forms of solidarity that counter attempts to paint refugees primarily as a security or cultural threat and to deny them equal human rights.

While its geographical focus is the Middle East, the conference seeks to contribute to a better understanding of the challenges related to forced migration in the 21st century and to weigh in on attempts to find constructive solutions to these challenges. It aims to open up new ways of thinking about refugees and telling the many important and yet untold stories of migration.

For more information, please contact Prof. Nevine El Nossery at: elnossery@wisc.edu

Appeals Court Affirms Dismissal of 8-year Lawsuit Over Israel Boycott

Case Dismissed Against Former Board Members of Olympia Food Co-op

Center for Constitutional Rights, March 9, 2018

Olympia, WA — A Washington appeals court has upheld a ruling that dismissed a lawsuit against former board members of the Olympia Food Co-op for the co-op’s decision to boycott Israeli goods. The ruling came yesterday in a case that was originally filed in 2011 by five co-op members, purporting to act on behalf of the co-op and seeking to block the boycott and collect monetary damages against the board members. The case was dismissed five months later as a SLAPP, or Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation, but reinstated when Washington’s anti-SLAPP statute was struck down. The ruling affirmed today dismissed the case a second time.

“As a co-defendant, I am pleased, but not surprised, that the courts have once again found in our favor. When the plaintiffs first threatened to sue us, they promised a nuisance lawsuit, and they have delivered. It is well past time to end this abuse of the legal system by ending this baseless suit,” said defendant Grace Cox.

The boycott was adopted by the Olympia Food Co-op in 2010 as part of the global Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement against violations of international law and the denial of Palestinian human rights by Israel. Five of the 22,000 Co-op members, two of whom later dropped out of the lawsuit, sued sixteen board members, those who had made the decision to boycott and the board members who were elected after the boycott. Yesterday, the Court of Appeals affirmed dismissal of the case, deferring to the business judgment of the board members, given that they had the authority to adopt the boycott and because there was no evidence of bad faith.

“In the face of widespread assault, the right to advocate for Palestinian freedom, including via the time-honored tradition of boycotts for social change, has again been vindicated.  This victory demonstrates that although the fight can be long, it’s necessary in order to achieve justice,” said Center for Constitutional Rights Deputy Legal Director Maria LaHood.

Discovery in the case revealed emails between the plaintiffs celebrating the news from StandWithUs that the lawsuit had successfully discouraged other co-ops from boycotting Israeli goods.  StandWithUs, one of many groups trying to suppress the growing U.S. movement for Palestinian freedom, took credit for filing the case, stating that it was a byproduct of the partnership between StandWithUs and the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 

“The Court of Appeals properly deferred to the business judgment of the Co-op board in making their boycott decision, which is a fundamental principle of governance that applies to every nonprofit corporation. It’s unfortunate that the plaintiffs and their funders have dragged these Co-op board members through 8-1/2 years of unnecessary litigation,” said Bruce E.H. Johnson of Davis Wright Tremaine LLP.

Lawyers say the lawsuit is part of a broad and growing pattern of suppressing activism in support of Palestinian rights, a phenomenon that the Center for Constitutional Rights and Palestine Legal have documented and called the “Palestine Exception” to free speech. The organizations report the widespread use of administrative disciplinary actions, harassment, firings, legislative attacks, false accusations of terrorism and antisemitism, and baseless legal complaints. Palestine Legal has responded to 1,494 incidents of suppression targeting speech supportive of Palestinian rights between 2014 and 2019.  See 2019 Year in Review

Read yesterday’s ruling here.

For more information, visit the Center for Constitutional Rights’ case page.

The Center for Constitutional Rights is counsel in Davis, et al., v. Cox, et al. with Seattle attorney Bruce E.H. Johnson of Davis Wright Tremaine LLP.

For more information, visit the Center for Constitutional Rights’ case page.

For more information about Davis Wright Tremaine LLP, visit http://www.dwt.com/.