Virtual Discussion on Corporate BDS Organizing

I am writing to invite you to join Omar Barghouti and me for a virtual discussion on corporate BDS organizing this Thursday, January 26 at 11 am ET/10 am CT/6 pm Palestine. 

Adalah Justice Project has played a key role in campaigns to compel corporations like Ben & Jerry’s to withdraw their complicity from Israeli crimes against the Palestinian people. This webinar gives us an opportunity to reflect with Omar Barghouti, co-founder of the BDS movement, on what these campaigns have accomplished and what more we can do together to advance BDS wins.

This event is hosted by our friends at Al-Shabaka and will be moderated by Al-Shabaka’s Nadim Bawalsa. 

We hope you will be able to join us this Thursday, January 26.

You can register for the webinar here.

Warmly,

Sandra Tamari
Adalah Justice Project

 

U.S. Palestinian Rights Group in Federal Appeals Court 

Confronts Challenge to Human Rights Advocacy

  

Last week a U.S.-based Palestinian rights organization asked the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals to uphold the dismissal of a lawsuit brought by the Jewish National Fund and several U.S. citizens who live in Israel. Citing the speech and expressive activities of the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights, including its support for the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement, the lawsuit  had argued that the group provided “material support” for terrorism. 

In dismissing the suit in March 2021, the lower court said the arguments were, “to say the least, not persuasive.” The suit is part of a broader effort to criminalize and silence the political activities of supporters of Palestinian rights, advocates say. 

“The worldwide movement for Palestinian freedom is growing,” said Ahmad Abuznaid, Executive Director of the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights. “USCPR’s work to advocate for Palestinian human rights is a critical part of that freedom struggle, or else right-wing forces allied with the Israeli government would not be repeatedly trying to silence us. All the more reason to keep up our work to build toward justice for all.”

Visit our website to learn more.

Distorted Definition: Redefining Antisemitism to Silence Advocacy for Palestinian Rights

One of the primary tactics opponents of the movement for Palestinian freedom have used to silence political debate is the branding of all support for Palestinian rights as anti-Jewish. Roughly half of the incidents of suppression Palestine Legal responds to each year include false accusations of antisemitism, totaling 895 incidents from 2014 to 2020.   

In an effort to add legitimacy to this tactic, Israel lobby groups have employed distorted definition of antisemitism that encompasses virtually all criticism of Israel and have attempted to entrench this definition through policy changes and legislation. 

This page tracks the evolution of the cynical ways Israel lobby groups have abused the definition and the definition’s impact on advocates for Palestinian rights.

We invite you to explore the following components:

 
2004 – 2008

Origins of a Politicized Redefinition

After decades of attempting to smear Palestine advocacy with false antisemitism accusations, Israel lobby groups develop a new Israel-centered definition of antisemitism. It is adopted by an EU body, and the U.S. State Department cites it in a report.

  • The European Union Monitoring Center on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC) begins working with the American Jewish Committee (AJC) and other Jewish and Israel advocacy groups to expand the definition of antisemitism. The AJC encourages inclusion of criticism of Israel in this redefinition.

    At the same time, Israeli politician Natan Sharansky creates the “3Ds Test” which defines “delegitimizing,” “demonizing” or “applying double standards” to Israel as examples of antisemitism.

  • Continue reading

California cancels Palestinians

Weaponizing Anti-Semitism
to Silence Criticism of Israel

 

Israeli lobby groups redefine antisemitism to include criticisms of Israel as a means of stifling speech

A baseball cap with the words: Make Israel Palestine Again
Activists warn that the adoption of the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism will stifle speech on Palestine. (Justin L. Stewart, ZUMA Press)

In September, the West Hollywood City Council unanimously passed a resolution adopting the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of anti-Semitism.

The council was following a global trend. Institutions around the world are increasingly adopting the IHRA definition which purports to be a tool for identifying and combating anti-Semitism.

In reality, it is merely the latest attempt to criminalize support for Palestinian liberation. Indeed, the West Hollywood City Council’s vote – and the public outcry it generated – provides valuable insight into the growing threat the adoption of this flawed definition poses to political activism and education.

The council’s actions were foreshadowed by the West Hollywood Public Safety Commission which, on 8 August, voted to recommend that the City Council adopt the IHRA definition. During that meeting, Public Safety Commissioner Tony Berger asked fellow commissioner Robert B. Oliver, who brought the proposal, what the purpose of a safety commission making such a recommendation would be.

“It’s not in our purview to do anything like this,” Berger said. “Aren’t we trying just to protect everybody?”

Oliver, who is currently running for West Hollywood City Council, said his proposal was to recommend to the City Council that the city adopt the IHRA definition as a “non-legally binding working definition to inform the different agencies of our city what anti-Semitism is.”

The West Hollywood move came after both Manhattan Beach and Beverly Hills city councils voted to adopt the IHRA definition. Oliver cited the latter as a reason for West Hollywood to follow suit.

During public comment on 19 September – when the West Hollywood City Counci eventually voted to pass the IHRA definition in accordance with the public safety commission’s recommendation – Palestinian West Hollywood resident Rami Kabalawi said he felt the IHRA definition silenced Palestinians and was concerned with prohibiting criticisms of Israel rather than authentically challenging anti-Semitism.

Kabalawi told the council: “If it’s codified, it will position Palestinian freedom of speech as explicitly anti-Jewish and create a situation of divisiveness that is fueled not about ending bigotry, but classifying our right to speak out as a form of it.”

Recycled language

Many fear that Kabalawi is right.

What is the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism, and why is its passage by the West Hollywood City Council such a troubling development?

The story behind the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism begins with a working definition of anti-Semitism conceived of by the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenobophia – a European Union agency – in the early noughties.

While the EUMC working definition is uncontroversial, it features several alleged examples of “anti-Semitism” that are simply criticisms of the Israeli state. This working definition was never formally endorsed by the EUMC.

Continue reading

Department of Education to investigate Berkeley Law School

Complaint from Israeli lawfare group prompts investigation over student group challenging Zionism

MICHAEL ARRIA, MONDOWEISS, DECEMBER 16, 2022

The Right to Boycott: Resisting the Crackdown on BDS

Join CODEPINK and Meera Shah of Palestine Legal on Zoom December 14th at 2pm ET/11am PT for an important and timely call on recent anti-BDS legislation and its impacts on movements for Palestine solidarity, and various forms of divestment.

Since 2014, U.S. legislators have introduced over 200 bills targeting boycotts for Palestinian rights – and the volume of these bills have only increased, with a huge wave of legislative attacks in recent months. What are the latest developments with these anti-boycott laws, and what do they mean? Join us as we explore the impacts these bills are already having on Palestine advocacy work, on other forms of divestment activism, and what we can do in this critical moment.

Meera Shah joined Palestine Legal in 2019. She supports the organization’s casework and public education and oversees the advocacy work on free speech, academic freedom, and the right to boycott.

Love Football. Hate Apartheid.

Score a goal for Palestinian rights

The men’s World Cup starts in just a few days. 
The world will turn its attention to the largest sporting event on the planet. 
Major sporting events, organized by corrupt sports governing bodies and fed with dirty sponsorship money, are often used in an attempt to mask human rights abuses or push through unpopular policies.

Let’s turn that on its head.

As social movements across the world take advantage of the visibility of the men’s World Cup to call for justice for all, let’s shine a spotlight on Palestinian rights and on companies complicit in Israeli apartheid.

Score a #Goal4Palestine!
Score a #Goal4PalestineScore a Goal for Palestinian rights on InstagramShine a light on Palestinian rights on Facebook

Throughout the men’s World Cup, let’s keep the attention on Palestinian rights and call out the complicity of sporting bodies and companies like FIFA and PUMA in Israeli apartheid. Make sure the Palestinian flag is flying high. Hang it alongside the flags of teams you support and share it on social media.

Remind fans to #BoycottPUMA over its sponsorship of the Israel Football Association, which governs over and advocates to maintain teams in illegal Israeli settlements on stolen Palestinian land.

Take action: Love Football. Hate Apartheid.

Stay tuned for more actions throughout the men’s 2022 World Cup. 

DONATE

The nonviolent BDS movement for freedom, justice and equality is supported by the absolute majority in Palestinian society. BDS rejects all forms of racism and racial discrimination.

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The Case Against ALEC Lawmakers Continues in Arizona Supreme Court

On November 15, the Arizona Palestine Solidarity Alliance (APSA), Black Lives Matter (BLM) Phoenix Metro, Mijente, and Puente continue their fight against the corporate-led American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) in the Arizona Supreme Court. The groups will join the Center for Consitutional Rights and the Peoples Law Firm for oral argument in court.

Our lawsuit argues that the lawmakers, who together make up a quorum of several Arizona legislative committees, have violated Arizona’s Open Meeting Law by meeting behind closed doors at a private ALEC gathering in Scottsdale, Arizona, in 2019. A closed meeting of a quorum of an Arizona legislative committee where members debate, discuss, deliberate, or otherwise work is a violation of the Arizona Open Meeting Law. In a major victory in the case, on February 15 this year, the Arizona Court of Appeals ruled that we may continue to pursue the lawsuit against 26 Arizona lawmakers who attended ALEC’s closed meetings in 2019. The court said the legislature cannot exempt itself from its own Open Meeting Law, rejected all of the defendants’ other arguments for dismissal, and sent the case back to the trial court. 

The initial filing in 2019 came after the Center for Constitutional Rights, Dream Defenders, Palestine Legal, The Red Nation, and the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights together released the report “ALEC Attacks: How evangelicals and corporations captured state lawmaking to safeguard white supremacy and corporate power,” which examines the harmful impact of ALEC laws on people of color. 

ALEC provides a ‘pay-to-play’ membership system in which its corporate members pay high fees in return for closed-door meetings with lawmakers to deliberate, draft, and vote on “model bills,” which are later introduced by ALEC-affiliated state lawmakers across the country. ALEC boasts that approximately one third of all state lawmakers are members. They are required to sign “loyalty oaths” to “put the interests of [ALEC] first.”

Between 2010 and 2018, ALEC’s “model bills” were introduced nearly 2,900 times, and more than 600 became law. The Arizona groups leading this fight point out that marginalized communities, particularly communities of color, have been disproportionately harmed by laws produced by ALEC. These include Stand Your Ground laws, voter ID laws, legislation targeting the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement supporting Palestinian human rights, and “critical infrastructure” laws that criminalize protests by Indigenous people and other activists against oil and gas companies. 

At ALEC’s 2009 meeting, anti-immigrant former state senator Russell Pearce introduced to ALEC members what would later become Arizona’s infamous SB 1070. The law granted authority to law enforcement to racially profile Latinx people in the state. Similar laws were soon adopted in Utah, Georgia, Indiana, Alabama, and South Carolina. 

 

Our right to boycott is headed to the Supreme Court

Just Vision, 10/20/22

Moments ago, the ACLU petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to hear a case of national significance on the right to boycott. It’s a case with massive implications for First Amendment rights.  

As you know, we’re tracking the spread of anti-boycott legislation sweeping state houses in the United States – and with great alarm. Our latest documentary, Boycott, follows plaintiffs in Texas, Arizona and Arkansas as they take on tremendous risk by suing their states over the constitutionality of these laws. One of those plaintiffs, Alan Leveritt, is at the center of the case now in front of the Supreme Court. 

If you’re new to this story, here’s the gist: anti-boycott laws, now passed in 34 states, require public contractors to sign a pledge promising that they do not, and will not, boycott Israel for the duration of their contract. Several Americans have challenged these laws, suing their respective states for violating their First Amendment rights. In almost every case — from Texas to Arizona to Kansas to Georgia — the plaintiffs won, with courts finding the anti-boycott laws unconstitutional. 

But this past summer, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in Alan’s case that boycotts are not protected by the First Amendment, a shocking break from Supreme Court precedent. The Eighth Circuit determined that boycotts, even when politically motivated, are strictly economic activity and not a form of expression. 

Video: Boycotts that changed history

As a news publisher, Alan believes the court is dead wrong. As he wrote in a New York Times Op-Ed: “We don’t take political positions in return for advertising. If we signed the pledge, I believe, we’d be signing away our right to freedom of conscience. And as journalists, we would be unworthy of the protections granted us under the First Amendment.”  

As the Supreme Court weighs whether to hear the case, we’re bracing ourselves for the implications. It’s become clear that these laws target more than just those advocating for Palestinian rights. Israel-focused anti-boycott laws have already been used as a template to ban boycotts on several other issues. There are now copycat bills, using nearly identical language, targeting boycotts of fossil fuels, firearms and other industries. (See our legislative tracker for what’s currently in play around the country and to see if your state is impacted.) 

It’s not only advocacy for the environment, gun safety and Palestinian rights that stands on the line — but the very right to wield boycotts as a form of political expression. We’re also fully aware that anti-boycott laws are the tip of the iceberg: across the country, states – backed by corporate lobbyists and right-wing coalitions – are passing anti-protest laws designed to punish and, in some cases, criminalize political organizing and dissent. 

We’re watching this story carefully, whether the Supreme Court hears it or not. But we’re also clear-eyed – the power to affect real, tangible change lies not in the courts, but in the hands of the people. We will continue to amplify those at the front lines, to ensure that our right to voice dissent is sacrosanct and fully protected.   

Onward,

Suhad Babaa
Executive Director & President, Just Vision