Palestine Legal

Profile

Country/TerritoryUnited States
Websitehttp://palestinelegal.org/
Founded2012
In their own words“An independent organization dedicated to protecting the civil and constitutional rights of people in the US who speak out for Palestinian freedom.”

Funding

  • Palestine Legal does not publish financial information, reflecting a lack of transparency and accountability.
  • Lists Tides Center, a San Francisco-based organization that funds a number of highly biased and politicized NGOs, as its fiscal sponsor.
  • In 2016, Tides Center granted $25,000 to Palestine Legal.
  • In 2016-2019, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, via the Tides Center, granted $150,000 to Palestine Legal.

Activities

  • Formerly known as the Palestine Solidarity Legal Support.
  • Aims “to bolster the Palestine solidarity movement by challenging efforts to threaten, harass and legally bully activists into silence and inaction.”
  • Provides “legal advice, Know Your Rights trainings, advocacy and litigation support to college students, grassroots activists and affected communities who stand for justice in Palestine… also monitors incidents of repression to expose trends in tactics to silence Palestine activism.”

Campus Activities

  • Claims that as “support for Palestinian rights has grown, so too have attempts by groups that uncritically support Israeli state policies to silence advocates for change. Through a variety of tactics, these groups pressure government actors, universities and other private institutions to investigate, censor and punish individuals and groups who criticize Israel or support Palestinian rights.” Such allegations altogether misrepresent the realities on college campuses, where Jewish students are often harassed, intimidated, and silenced by pro-Palestinian groups that engage in highly offensive and provocative campaigns against Israel and Jews.
  • Calls on “university administrators to protect speech rights and to protect the physical safety of students who are at risk for voicing their views in favor of Palestinian rights.”
  • Together with the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), published a report, “The Palestine Exception to Free Speech,” that claims to “document[] the suppression of Palestinian advocacy in the United States.” The report claims that Israel advocacy groups repress Palestinian rights groups by falsely accusing them of antisemitism and sympathizing with terrorism.
  • In November 2018, Senior Staff Attorney Radihika Sainath participated in an event at Columbia Law School to discuss “how you can incorporate Palestinian activism into your legal career, whether you’re interested in dedicating your career to fighting for Palestinian human rights or want to engage in pro-Palestinian activism in your free time.”
  • In October 2018, Palestine Legal joined a campaign to promote the “Right to Boycott: Professors’ Edition” after a professor at University of Michigan was disciplined for discriminating against a student who wanted to study abroad at an Israeli academic institution.
  • In October 2018, Radihika Sainath participated at an event, sponsored by Jewish Voice for Peace and Students for Justice in Palestine, at New York University on “The Assault on the Right to Boycott.” The event discussed how “Frivolous lawsuits filed by Zionist plaintiffs…have targeted pro-BDS groups and individuals in a cynical, but well-funded, effort to intimidate and silence anyone who speaks up for Palestinians.”
  • In February 2018, Palestine Legal, alongside Students for Justice in Palestine, held a webinar to aid “students and campus-based activists and organizers when facing harassment, threats to free speech, and suppression at the hands of the University and other entities or individuals.”
  • In May 2015, together with CCR published a document, “Accusations of Anti-Semitism Used to Deter Advocacy for Palestinian Rights.” The report advances the argument used by many anti-Israel activists and antisemites who claim that “conflation of Israeli policies with anti-Semitism [is used] as a tool to silence activism in support of Palestinian rights,” even when their activities are in fact manifestations of anti-Jewish hatred. Furthermore, many of the BDS campaigns promoted by Palestine Legal are rooted in immoral double standards and tactics of demonization and delegitimization, all of which are expressions of modern-day antisemitism.
  • Prepared a “Mock Eviction Actions Preparations Checklist,” informing students how to plan, publicize, implement, and similarly avoid lawsuits when engaging in “mock eviction actions” against Jewish student dorm rooms.
  • On April 24, 2014, the Students for Justice in Palestine chapter at New York University distributed “mock eviction notices” to two residence halls known for their high concentration of Jewish students. Palestine Legal defended SJP and denied as “baseless” claims that SJP specifically targeted these residence halls for their Jewish populations.
  • Together with CCR, published a September 2013 “Legal and Tactical Guide,” advising students how to avoid potential lawsuits and effectively organize BDS campaigns, mock checkpoints, protests, demonstrations, and other anti-Israel activities.

BDS Activities

  • Palestine Legal works to provide legal cover for those advancing the BDS agenda on college campuses.
  • Maintains a database of “Anti-BDS Legislation by State” stating that “none of the anti-BDS bills and laws take away your right to boycott Israel or to advocate for BDS.” Palestine Legal regularly opposes these bills.
  • In October 2018, Palestine Legal hosted an event titled “Zionist Lawfare and the Boycott Movement” focusing on the “academic boycott and BDS movement” as well as discussing “the campaign launched by USACBI [U.S. Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel] to boycott Study Abroad in Israel programs.” The event also “connect[ed] resistance to colonial borders in the US/North America and Palestine/Israel, linking Israel’s deportations and ban on Palestinian travel to sanctuary activism and immigrant/refugee solidarity here.”
  • In June 2018, Palestine Legal called for people to “Join or start a local coalition to oppose anti-BDS legislation or to start your own boycott campaign and show that such legislation will not scare you away from exercising your right to boycott!”
  • On December 9, 2016, Palestine Legal, alongside Addameer, Al-HaqBadil, Adalah, Inter-Faith Peace Builders, USACBI, American for Muslims in Palestine, Samidoun, Center for Constitutional Rights, USPCN and others, released a statement for International Human Rights Defenders Day stating that the BDS campaign is part of “the right to ‘participate in peaceful activities against violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms,’” and called to examine Israel response to the BDS campaign “within the broader context of impunity in Israel itself, as well as the failure of states to hold Israel accountable for its commission of internationally recognized crimes.”
  • In April 2016, Rahul Saksena, Attorney for Palestine Legal, participated in an event at the Palestine Center titled “BDS: Context and Challenges” to discuss “academic, consumer, and cultural boycott of Israeli institutions, companies, goods, and services as a means to draw public attention to the facts of Israeli oppression and military occupation of Palestinian lives and land.”
  • In October 2015, Palestine Legal, alongside CCR, 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 August 2015, Palestine Legal hosted an event titled “BDS in the USA: Why the answer to the growing backlash needs to be more BDS against Israel.” The event featured Jewish Voice for Peace and Students for Justice in Palestine.

Other Anti-Israel Activities

  • In May 2018, during the violence on the Gaza border, Palestine Legal published a statement that “we stand with Palestinians living both in their homeland and all over the world in their struggle against settler colonialism, occupation, apartheid, racism, and ethnic cleansing. We call on the Israeli government to immediately end its illegal use of deadly force and violent crackdown on peaceful protesters and abide by international law protecting rights to life, peaceful assembly, and freedom of movement. Israeli officials who ordered unlawful lethal force should be subject to prosecution abroad as a matter of universal jurisdiction or in the International Criminal Court.” Palestine Legal ignored the violent nature of the protests, which have consisted of an organized armed attack on the Israeli border and IDF positions, attempts to destroy and breach the border fence, and sustained arson, rocket, and mortar attacks on Israeli civilian communities.
  • In August 2014, Palestine Legal, together with a number of other groups, sent a letter to University of Illinois Chancellor Phyllis Wise urging the University to reinstate its offer of employment to Professor Steven Salaita, which had been  rescinded after he posted a series of obscene 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?”

Partners

Works closely with the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and the National Lawyers Guild (NLG), both of which are highly active in anti-Israel BDS (boycotts, divestment and sanctions) and lawfare campaigns.

 

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