ZIONIST MOVEMENTS AND THE LEGAL ATTACK ON PALESTINIAN ORGANIZING

While organized Zionist movements and organizations have accused Palestinians of “lawfare” for upholding their rights to return to their land, self-determination, to resist occupation, and to achieve their national and human rights by referencing international law and human rights standards, pro-Israel agencies have engaged in extensive legal campaigns and lawsuits attempting to silence Palestinian activism and organizing.

The lawsuit filed against Al-Awda, the Palestine Right to Return Coalition, cannot be viewed outside the current pattern of attacks and legal efforts to target Palestinian and solidarity organizations with harassive lawsuits aimed to limit and silence public discussion on Palestine.

For example, Shurat Ha-Din, the Israel Law Center, proven to have deep ties to Israeli intelligence and to take orders from the Israeli government, has :

* attempted to sue Jimmy Carter for writing and publishing “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid,” a book with which they disagreed politically

* attempted to disrupt Australian aid to the Union of Agricultural Work Committees in Gaza, an organization that supports Palestinian farmers and fishers, branding UAWC as “terrorists” (these attempts failed and were dismissed as unsubstantiated)

* sent a letter to the presidents of numerous US universities, demanding that universities repress and silence activities by Students for Justice in Palestine groups

* threatened to sue an Australian professor for calling for the academic boycott of Israel

* filed suit in US courts in an attempt to block American boats and activists from participating in a grassroots humanitarian “flotilla” to break the siege on Gaza

* threatened to sue TIAA-CREF if it adopts a resolution to boycott corporations involved in arming and supporting the Israeli military occupation

Shurat Ha-Din’s efforts are often unsuccessful in court, but force grassroots organizations to expend time, effort, and far-too-scarce financial resources to defend against their allegations and lawsuits.

StandWithUs, another Zionist organization, was involved with a lawsuit against the Olympia Food Co-Op, providing legal and other resources to disgruntled pro-Israel co-op members who were upset at losing a vote in which the co-op board voted to boycott Israeli goods. This lawsuit was dismissed as a SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation).

Much as in the Al-Awda lawsuit, the plaintiffs in the Olympia Food Co-Op case attempted to have the state’s entire anti-SLAPP statute – protecting activists and grassroots groups from bogus legal threats from powerful corporations – struck down, in which they failed. The case is now on appeal.

The lawsuit against Al-Awda cannot be viewed separately from the ongoing legal attacks against Palestinian and solidarity organizing across the US – attacks that are so frequent that they have caused organizations like the Center for Constitutional Rights and National Lawyers Guild to launch the Palestine Solidarity Legal Support Initiative to provide legal solidarity and recourse in the face of well-funded, ongoing and aggressive legal actions targeting grassroots organizers for Palestine.