National Lawyers Guild (NLG)
|In their own words
|"Dedicated to the need for basic change in the structure of our political and economic system” and “seek[s] to unite the lawyers, law students, legal workers and jailhouse lawyers… who seek actively to eliminate racism; who work to maintain and protect our civil rights and liberties in the face of persistent attacks upon them; and who look upon the law as an instrument for the protection of the people, rather than for their repression.”
- In 2020, total income was $216,144; total expenses were $148,064.
- Donors and funding sources unavailable, reflecting a lack of transparency and accountability.
- National Lawyers Guild (NLG) also maintains a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization called the National Lawyers Guild Foundation (NLGF) for tax deductible donations. NLG explains that the “primary role of the Foundation has been to support the sustainability of the NLG National Office through direct grants on an annual and as-needed bases.” In addition, the Foundation “serves as fiscal sponsor for NLG chapters and committees that do not have 501(c)(3) status.”
- In 2020, NLGF had an income of $2.9 million and expenses of $2.6 million.
- Describes itself as a “non-profit federation of lawyers, legal workers, and law students.”
- NLG maintains a “Palestine Subcommittee” that “advocates for justice in Palestine, organizes delegations, provides legal support to Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movements, works to support Palestinian political prisoners, and works to implement Palestinian rights.”
- Embraces a Marxist ideology. According to its “2014 Convention Resolution,” NLG is “committed to dismantling the capitalist economic system in our nation and replacing it with a genuine political and economic democracy that holds the promise of financially achieving economic and social equality for all the people of our nation.”
- In January 2018, NLG was sued for discrimination by the Bibliotechnical Athenaeum after NLG refused an offer to place an advertisement in its Annual Banquet dinner journal “on the grounds that they ‘have a resolution barring us from accepting funds from Israeli organizations.’” In May 2020, NLG settled the case, committing to refrain from “discriminating against Israelis and to accepting a statement of organizational policy drafted by The Lawfare Project on non-discrimination.” The new policy “explicitly forbids discrimination based on ‘national origin or ancestry’ which would include discrimination against Israelis or Israeli organizations.”
- Following the settlement, NLG published a statement affirming that “NLG is undeterred in our commitment to boycott institutions that are responsible for human rights violations of Palestinians.”
- NLG supports the Deadly Exchange campaign led by Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) that aims to “end police exchange programs between the US and Israel.” JVP claims that American Jewish organizations and programs are to blame for police violence against minorities in America. The campaign also invoked antisemitic tropes.
- The initial “Deadly Exchange” video labeled AIPAC, ADL, Birthright and other Jewish organizations as being responsible for these exchanges, and urged viewers to “Hold accountable the Jewish institutions who run and fund the deadly exchange.”
- NLG was a signatory on the campaign “#DroptheADL.”
- In January 2023, NLG was a signatory on a letter to the American Bar Association stating that “the clear objective behind the promotion of the IHRA definition is the suppression of non-violent protest, activism, and criticism of Israel and/or Zionism…in practice the IHRA definition has been used consistently (and nearly exclusively) not to fight antisemitism, but rather to defend Israel and harm Palestinians – at the cost of undermining and dangerously chilling fundamental rights of free speech, freedom of assembly and protest, and academic freedom.”
- The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism, adopted by nearly 30 countries and counting, represents the international consensus definition of antisemitism, as well as how to distinguish between legitimate criticism of Israel and antisemitism. An example of the latter includes denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.
- In November 2022, NLG was a signatory on a letter to the ICC Prosecutor to “Urgently expedite his investigation into the Situation of Palestine, including the crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution.”
- In August 2022, NLG sent a letter to the US State Department condemning the decision by the Israeli Ministry to designate six Palestinian NGOs as terrorist organizations. The letter urged the State Department to “utterly and unequivocally condemn Israel’s baseless designations as being unsubstantiated and insist that Israel, at a minimum, allow these organizations to re-open and continue their vital work.”
- In June 2021, co-chair of NLG’s Palestine Subcommittee, Huwaida Arraf, participated in a conference, “Challenging Apartheid in Palestine: Reclaiming the Narrative, Formulating A Vision,” hosted by the Istanbul Sabahattin Zaim University. Conference organizers and sponsors, as well as other participants, were linked to various terror groups, including Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).
- In May 2020, three members of NLG signed a petition to the United Nations calling on Israel to release political prisoners as “Their continued systemic and discriminatory policy towards Palestinian prisoners amount to ‘medical apartheid’.”
- In October-November 2018, NLG held its “Annual Conference,” featuring a workshop titled “Killing Gaza: A Man-Made Humanitarian and Human Rights Disaster.” The workshop discussed the “ongoing Israeli massacres of 2018 during the Great March of Return, the illegality (multiple violations of international human rights & humanitarian law), and immorality, as well as of the possible avenues of redress – and their effectiveness in ending Israeli impunity. Emphasis on the role of the US in giving Israel carte blanche militarily, economically and diplomatically.”
- In July 2018, NLG hosted a webinar drawing comparisons between the “building of border walls in Palestine and on the Mexico-U.S. border.” The webinar discussed the “continuous threat of state, corporate and military violence tying together these colonial and neo-colonial projects.”
- In April 2018, NLG condemned the “Israeli military’s recent slaughter of unarmed civilians peacefully protesting in Gaza” during the violence on the Gaza border.” NLG further demanded an “end to the massive, uncritical diplomatic and financial support that the U.S. continues to provide Israel, enabling it to engage in ongoing gross violations of Palestinian human rights with impunity… Until the U.S. ends its ongoing financial and diplomatic support of Israel which allow the state to continue its deadly policies with impunity, the U.S. government will continue to be complicit in everything Israel does.” NLG ignored the violent nature of the protests, which included Molotov cocktails, arson, and attempts to breach the border fence with Israel.
- In October 2017, NLG sponsored a conference titled “Parallel Liberation Struggles: Lessons in Resistance” that aimed to “commemorate the 100-year Palestinian resistance to Israel’s settler-colonial project and explore the similarities in violence used against Palestinians, African Americans, and Native Americans and their methods of resistance.”
- In January 2016, NLG published a joint statement with Lawyers for Palestinian Rights (LPHR) and Addameer, expressing that they are “deeply appalled at the sentencing of leading Palestinian human rights defender, Ms Khalida Jarrar.” Khalida Jarrar, Addameer’s former vice-chairperson, is a senior official of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a terrorist organization designated as such by the US, EU, Canada, and Israel. On April 15, 2015, Jarrar was indicted for various offenses including active membership in a terrorist organization (the PFLP) and inciting violence through a call to kidnap Israeli soldiers. She also has been placed in administrative detention multiple times and is again there due to her remaining a “threat to the security of the state.”
- In August 2015, NLG, along with the International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL), Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights, Amnesty International, Center for Constitutional Rights, FIDH, and Jewish Voice for Peace, signed a statement supporting the Palestinian Human Rights Organizations Council’s call for the international community to “act on the report of the UN Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 Gaza Conflict.” In particular, the NGOs called for them to “exercise universal jurisdiction to try international crimes in national courts.”
- In July 2015, Audrey Bomse, co-chair of the NLG Palestine Subcommittee, and Azadeh Shahshahani, then president of NLG, wrote an article accusing Israel of promoting a “narrative, which whitewashes and justifies the crimes by blaming the victims” regarding the 2014 Gaza War. Bomse further stated that “There is no question that Israel willfully caused wanton destruction, great suffering and serious injury to body and health.”
- Together with CCR and Palestine Legal, sent a November 2014 letter to over 140 universities, defending mock-checkpoints and mock-eviction notices, and cautioning universities against “censoring” such activities on campus.
- In August 2014, NLG, together with the Center for Constitutional Rights, International Association of Democratic Lawyers, Arab Lawyers Union, and American Association of Jurists, 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 claimed 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.”
- On August 23, 2014, Azadeh N. Shahshahani, then President of the National Lawyers Guild, wrote an article published in The Huffington Post (“From Gaza to Ferguson: Exposing the Toolbox of Racist Repression”), accusing Israel of “collective punishment,” “apartheid,” “ethnic cleansing,” “land grabs,” using “imprisonment as a political tool,” and imposing “draconian conditions” on the residents of Gaza.
- Sponsored a July 2014 demonstration in Miami, together with the Center for American Islamic Relations (CAIR), Al Awada and others, at which protesters reportedly yelled, “We are Hamas!”; “We are Jihad!”; and “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” meaning the elimination of Israel.
- In 2012, launched a legal hotline to aid anti-Israel activists during Israel Apartheid Week.
- In 2007, NLG passed a resolution to “participate in the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanction (BDS) movement.”
- In October 2021, NLG participated in a campaign titled “No Tech for Apartheid,” calling on Google and Amazon to “end all ties with Israeli apartheid and cut the Project Nimbus contract.” According to the campaign, “Technology should be used to bring people together, not enable apartheid, ethnic cleansing, and settler-colonialism.”
- In August 2021, NLG signed a letter to the States Parties to the Arms Trade Treaty calling to “put an end to Israel’s notorious use of arms and military equipment…by immediately imposing a comprehensive two-way arms embargo on Israel.” According to the letter, “This systematic brutality, perpetrated throughout the past seven decades of Israel’s colonialism, apartheid, pro-longed illegal belligerent occupation, persecution, and closure, is only possible because of the complicity of some governments and corporations around the world.”
- In July 2021, NLG was a signatory on a letter to President Biden to “Halt Weapons Sales to Israel.”
- In May 2021, NLG published a statement in “Solidarity with the People of Palestine in their Struggle Against the Settler Colonial State of Israel.” According to the statement, “we underline that the United States has been in many ways directly responsible for Israel’s ongoing impunity” and called for “Supporting the call for boycott, divestment and sanctions of all institutions whose conduct is complicit in Israeli crimes, complicit in Israeli apartheid, complicit in the occupation of Palestine, or complicit in any denial of Palestinian human rights.”
- In April 2021, NLG endorsed US Congresswoman McCollum’s proposed legislation meant to advance BDS and demonization of Israeli companies and defense forces. The entirety of the proposed bill is premised on factually inaccurate claims from anti-Israel advocacy NGOs, including direct quotes from Defense for Children International -Palestine’s “No Way to Treat a Child” 2016 report and website.
- In October 2020, NLG was a signatory on a letter to Congress calling for the U.S. to “stop funding Israel’s military, which regularly engages in violations of human rights and international law without accountability.”
- In June 2020, during the Black Lives Matter protests, NLG signed a letter to congress calling to “divest from militarism and policing, from the US to Palestine.” According to the letter, “Just as we join in the demand for our tax dollars to be divested from brutal police violence and a repressive military response to protesters asserting that #BlackLivesMatter, we call for an end to U.S.-funded violence abroad.”
- NLG called for a boycott of Airbnb for “listing properties in illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank,” thereby supporting “Israeli apartheid and land theft.”
- NLG supports a campaign calling for “elected officials of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and its municipalities to end contracts with Hewlett-Packard (HP) until the company ends its corporate complicity in the Israeli occupation of Palestine, U.S. deportations, and mass incarceration.”
- Regularly partners with Center for American Islamic Relations (CAIR) to send letters to lawmakers and university presidents against laws and policies that ban boycotts against Israel and Israeli academic institutions.
- In March 2017, published an article criticizing anti-BDS laws and defending the right to participate in boycotts.
- In October 2015, the South Florida Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, alongside Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), Palestine Legal, 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.”
- Together with Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights (LPHR) and the Palestinian Human Rights Organisations Council (PHROC), submitted a complaint to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of Human Rights Defenders about the Israeli travel ban imposed on Omar Barghouti, a leader of international BDS campaigns. The letter accused Israeli government officials of making statements that “clearly appear to incite physical harm.”
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