Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR)
|Founded||1966 “by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South.”|
|In their own words||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.”|
- 2015 total revenue of $8.3 million and expenses of $7.25 million.
- According to its 2015 990 form, CCR received contributions from the Ford Foundation ($342,500), The Atlantic Philanthropies ($661,393), Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund ($729,450), the Bertha Foundation ($1,000,000), Warsh-Mott Legacy ($345,000), the Open Society Foundation (founded by George Soros – $495,000), the Oak Foundation ($250,000), and the Tides Foundation ($245,641).
- 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.
- On October 20, 2015, the Harvard Law School-Justice for Palestine group hosted the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and Palestine Legal for an event entitled “The Palestine Exception to Free Speech: A Movement Under Attack,” to discuss the “suppression of Palestine advocacy in the United States.”
- Accuses the U.S of “unqualified U.S. diplomatic, economic, and military support for the Israeli government’s occupation of Palestine and apartheid policies in the region.”
- In a January 2015 interview, President Emeritus Michael 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.”
- In a July 2014 interview, Ratner stated that “today I want to talk about Israel, but particularly its criminality–its war crimes, genocide, crimes against humanity, and apartheid,” and called Israel’s massacres of Palestinians “incremental genocide.”
- 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 2014, Ratner signed a petition titled “Jews Say: End the War on Gaza — No Aid to Apartheid Israel! BDS!” legitimizing Palestinian resistance stating, “Like any colonial regime, Israel uses resistance to such policies as an excuse to terrorize and collectively punish the indigenous population for its very existence. But scattered rockets, fired from Gaza into land stolen from Palestinians in the first place, are merely a response to this systemic injustice.”
- 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.”
Anti-Israel Legal Activities
- In October 2015, CCR, alongside Palestine Legal, the South Florida Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, and CAIR Florida, sent a letter to Florida State Senators urging them to withdraw a bill that “seeks to stifle this human rights movement by blacklisting companies that decide for ethical reasons to boycott Israel because of its human rights abuses.”
- 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 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.”
- 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.
- According to CCR, “Legal bullying will sometimes serve its purpose of intimidating people of conscience into silence, but it ultimately cannot stop the growing BDS movement in support of Palestinian rights. The use of peaceful boycotts in movements for social justice has a rich tradition, including in the United States Civil Rights Movement and in the movement against South African apartheid. Threats to sue people engaging in BDS just confirm how powerful this movement has become.”
- In June 2016, Governor Cuomo signed an executive order that barred state business with organizations that have endorsed Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel. In response, Baher Azmy. CCR’s legal director, stated “Cuomo’s action has the ugliest attributes of McCarthyism…identifying organizations that engage in speech we dislike and, ‘Let’s blacklist them.’ This is a well-orchestrated, well-funded, organized strategy to disproportionately punish US-based activists. Really ugly.”
- In May 2016, CCR joined a coalition of over 100 groups to send a letter to members of the New York Legislature, “urging lawmakers to oppose bills that would effectively create blacklists of individuals and entities that boycott companies based in Israel or the occupied Palestinian territory.”
- In 2015, following the Graduate Students Association at UCLA in California putting stipulations on funding for student groups based on affiliation with Palestinian rights activism, CCR, along with Palestine Legal and the American Civil Liberties Union, sent a letter to UCLA administrators demanding to rescind its ‘unconstitutional policy’ as it is a “threat to free expression and free association posed by the Graduate Students Association’s (GSA) policy of discrimination against students with pro-divestment viewpoints.”
- 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.
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