BDS IN THE PEWS
Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR)
February 09, 2015
- Website: ccrjustice.org
- Founded in 1966 “by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South.”
- Describes itself as a “non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change.” Claims to use “litigation proactively to advance the law in a positive direction…to guarantee the rights of those with the fewest protections and least access to legal resources, to train the next generation of constitutional and human rights attorneys, and to strengthen the broader movement for constitutional and human rights.”
- President Emeritus Michael Ratner is a well-known activist and attorney. Ratner represented Guantanamo Bay detainees before the U.S. Supreme Court and is an avid proponent of using litigation to prosecute alleged abuses of human rights.
- In a January 2015 interview, Ratner alleged: “Israel's war crimes are so extreme and so open and notorious, both the assaults on Gaza as well as the movement of civilians into occupied territories, that I think there's a chance that, if they have any legitimacy, the International Criminal Court will have to go forward on opening an investigation on at least some part of those crimes. So I'm not without hope.” In a 2010 blog posting entitled, “From Hebron to Yad Vashem: Jewish Sorrow Justifying the Sorrow of Others,” he condemned Yad Vashem for “trying to make me accept, or at least justify, what was unacceptable: the apartheid state that is today’s Israel. In this narrative, the Holocaust is used to ask us to wash away the sins of the occupier.”
- Funding: 2014 total assets of $6,974,924.
- According to its 2014 990 form, CCR received contributions from the Ford Foundation ($125,000), The Atlantic Philanthropies ($1,050,000), Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund ($838,499), Kaphan Foundation ($150,000), and the Tides Foundation ($199,828).
- Political Advocacy: Active in lawfare suits against Israel and Israeli officials (including Avi Dichter and Moshe Ya'alon); promotes anti-Israel BDS campaigns; urges the U.S. government to stop providing military aid to Israel; presents an entirely biased and distorted view of the conflict and utilizes highly politicized rhetoric, accusing Israel of “war crimes,” “crimes against humanity,” and other such allegations.
- Issued a 2014 call for action, urging supporters to “call the White House and send a letter to your representatives to protest the U.S. government’s continued support for Israel during an onslaught that has already killed hundreds of civilians.” The sample letter states: “I am calling to protest US support of the Israeli government, as evidence mounts of war crimes by the Israeli military in the Gaza Strip…The President must condemn the ongoing atrocities by the Israeli military, and the United States government must end all military, economic, and diplomatic support for Israel.”
- In August 2014, CCR, together with the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) and others, sent a letter to Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court Faatou Bensouda, urging her “to initiate an investigation of war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity committed by Israeli leaders and aided and abetted by U.S. officials in Gaza.” The letter claims that, “By transferring financial assistance, weapons and other military aid to Israel, members of U.S. Congress, President Barak Obama, and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel have aided and abetted the commission of war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity by Israeli officials and commanders in Gaza.”
- Published a factsheet on the 2014 Gaza war, ignoring Palestinian attacks against Israeli civilians, distorting Israel’s legitimate right to self-defense, and presenting an inaccurate and highly biased narrative of Israeli aggression and sole responsibility.
- In January 2015, CCR announced that it filed a civil rights suit against the University of Illinois for firing tenured professor Steven Salaita after he posted a series of viciously anti-Israel tweets during the 2014 Gaza War. Salaita’s tweets included: “If you're defending #Israel right now you're an awful human being”; “Zionists: transforming ‘antisemitism’ from something horrible into something honorable since 1948”; “At this point, if Netanyahu appeared on TV with a necklace made from the teeth of Palestinian children, would anybody be surprised?” CCR attorney Maria LaHood claimed that “The use of ‘civility’ as cover for violating Professor Salaita’s rights must be challenged… There is neither a ‘civility’ exception nor a ‘Palestine’ exception to the First Amendment.” According to the press release, “The lawsuit seeks Salaita’s reinstatement and monetary relief that includes compensation for the economic hardship and reputational damage he suffered as a result of the University’s actions.”
- In 2012, CCR partnered with NLG to launch the “Palestine Solidarity Legal Support initiative.” While the initiative claimed “to protect and advance the constitutional rights of Palestinian rights activists across the U.S.,” it largely sought to promote boycotts, divestments and sanctions against Israel. The initiative’s announcement was made on the Electronic Intifada website, a fringe online publication active in promoting BDS and “one state” campaigns.
- In 2005, CCR joined with the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) in promoting the wrongful death suit brought by the parents of International Solidarity Movement (ISM) activist Rachel Corrie against the Caterpillar Corporation, alleging it shared responsibility got the accidental death of Corrie in Gaza in 2003. As with CCR’s other cases, the suit was designed to indict Israel for its anti-terror operations.