Berlin Data Protection Authority Holds RIAS/MBR Accountable for Violating Dr. Younes’ Data Rights
On 16 May 2022, the Berlin Data Protection Authority (DPA) decided in favour of Dr. Anna Younes and issued a warning against VDK, representing RIAS Berlin and MBR. The two organisations had prepared a secret dossier on Dr. Younes, which aimed at identifying “her positions on Israel and BDS.” The dossier also framed her as supporter of terrorism, sexism and anti-Jewish racism and resulted in her disinvitation from a public event on anti-racism organised by Die Linke in November 2019. Furthermore, the DPA rejected RIAS/MBR’s claim and stated that they “did not have a serious scientific purpose” nor a journalistic one when preparing this dossier. After almost two years, the DPA finally found RIAS/MBR violated European data protection law (GDPR) and recognised Dr. Younes’ basic data rights as a German citizen. Further legal action will be taken.
Panel discussion: “How Israel lobbies make it harder to speak up against Israel’s policies”
The ELSC will join the in-person panel organised by Leonhard-Woltjer Foundation & and Een Ander Joods Geluid (A Different Jewish Voice) on “How Israel lobbies make it harder to speak up against Israel’s policies”, in Amsterdam.
The ELSC Demands Accountability After Police Repression in Berlin on 15th of May 2022
Last week, the ELSC sent a letter to UN Special Rapporteurs on contemporary forms of racism, on freedom of opinion and expression, and on freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, following its previous communication alerting on urgent threats to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly in Berlin ahead of Nakba day.
German Court Rules in Favour of Scholar Dr. Anna Younes in Digital Surveillance Case
On 6 May 2022, the Berlin District Court upheld Dr. Younes’ claims and ordered VDK – the German state-funded organisation that legally represents RIAS Berlin and MBR – to give Anna Younes access to data that the two civil society organisations had gathered on her and passed on to others. The information released so far reveals that RIAS and MBR have been collecting people’s personal data based on their “positions on Israel and BDS.”
Urgent Communication: Imminent Threat to the Rights of Freedom of Expression and of Association and the Right of Non-discrimination in Berlin
Last week, the Berlin police prohibited public gatherings organised by civil society organisations in Berlin Jüdische Stimme für gerechten Frieden in Nahost, Palästina Spricht and Samidoun, planned to take place over the following weekend to commemorate the 74 years of the Nakba (the forced transfer of hundreds of Palestinians from their homeland). In the face of this imminent threat to the rights of freedom of expression and of association and the right of non-discrimination, the ELSC sent an urgent letter to the UN Special Rapporteurs on racism, on Freedom of Opinion and Expression, and on the Rights to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly.
ELSC Newsletter: April 2022
This month was marked by the launch of the campaign in support of German-Palestinian scholar Dr. Anna Younes. She is a German Palestinian academic who has been subjected to several disinformation campaigns and surveilled. In 2019, she discovered that a secret dossier circulated about her, distorting her academic work and other data to frame her as anti-Jewish racist, sexist and as a terrorist sympathizer. After two long years of proceedings with the Berlin Data Protection Authority that failed to issue a final decision on her case, Dr. Younes is now filing two lawsuits to seek justice.
Viennese Court Endorses the City of Vienna’s SLAPP Against Palestinian Rights Advocate
In a highly contestable decision delivered on 6 April 2022 in the case between the City of Vienna and a member of BDS Austria, the Commercial Court of Vienna endorsed the City’s Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (SLAPP), ruling against the BDS activists. The Austrian activists will appeal this decision.
ELSC Newsletter: March 2022
This month was marked by Women’s Rights Day as well as the Israeli Apartheid Week, where many students and activists organised events and protests to show solidarity with the Palestinian people and raise awareness about the Israeli apartheid. This week was not free from censorship, especially on campus, as shown by an incident in The Netherlands. We also share updates from the European Citizens’ Initiative Campaign as well as news from Germany, Austria, and a vacancy to work with us in the UK!
Letter in Support of Dr. Anna Younes
The ELSC published a letter signed by nearly 500 scholars, artists, activists, organisations and human rights defenders to support Dr. Anna Younes and other scholars, activists and journalists against censorship and unlawful surveillance in Germany.
Ask the Mayor of Vienna to End Strategic Lawsuit Against Palestinian Rights Advocate
In November 2021, the City of Vienna filed a strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP) against an activist to deliberately repress and intimidate BDS-Austria and Palestinian rights advocates. Such a tactic threatens democratic values and fundamental rights.
European States should adopt a Consistent Approach toward Human Rights and the Rule of Law in Palestine during Human Rights Council Session 49
The ELSC took part in a initiative led by the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS) to ask key EU institutions and Member States to uphold the rule of international law and human rights for Palestinians at the 49th session of the UN Human Rights Council. Read the press release of the CIHRS below.
ELSC Newsletter: February
This month, we share with you some victories from the UK and Switzerland, an important analysis on German case law in favour of BDS, updates on the cases of BT3P and BDS Austria, new cases of repression in Germany and The Netherlands, and a landmark European Citizens Initiative.
Over 100 Civil Society Organizations Call on DW to Retract the Biased Report and End the Smear Campaign
Over one hundred local, regional and international civil society organizations have signed an open letter in solidarity with Palestinians, condemning Deutsche Welle’s (DW) inaccurate and defamatory report, calling for the retraction of the accusations and demanding the protection of the right to Palestinian freedom of speech.
A New European Citizens Initiative Aims to Push the EU to Ban Trade with Illegal Settlements
We joined a coalition of more than 100 organisations asking European citizens to sign the European Citizens Initiative that will push the EU to ban trade with illegal settlements and therefore align its policy with international law. See our press release below.
The Case of Shahd Abusalama – A Palestinian Scholar Successfully Defeated Attempts to Silence Her
Shahd Abusalama faced a smear campaign and was about to lose a teaching position at Sheffield Hallam University. Her case, which we supported, illustrates the trend of growing repression of Palestinian rights advocacy on UK campuses. Shahd’s case also illustrates that solidarity and coordination are an effective way to collectively push back against unjust repression of legitimate advocacy for Palestinian rights.
More and more German courts confirm the right to BDS
On January 20, Germany’s Federal Administrative Court in Leipzig confirmed that the City of Munich had violated the right to freedom of expression by denying the use of its conference hall solely because it did not like the particular theme of the planned event. The Court instructed the City to provide its hall for a public debate of Munich’s anti-BDS resolution. The ELSC commends the judges of Germany’s highest administrative court for this principled decision, which represents yet another milestone in efforts to put an end to Germany’s unethical and unlawful anti-BDS resolutions.
We Won’t Be Silenced: On the Attempts to Smear Free Palestine Maastricht
The student activist group, Free Palestine Maastricht, dedicated to building solidarity and awareness on the Palestinian cause is targeted in an escalating unfounded smear campaign initiated by a student at Maastricht University. The ELSC has been providing the group with legal support. In the statement below, Free Palestine Maastricht asserts its right to advocate for Palestinian rights and calls upon Maastricht University to protect students’ fundamental rights of freedom of expression, assembly, and association.
ELSC Newsletter: January
Dear friend, This month we share with you our 2021 achievements in pushing back against silencing Palestinian rights advocacy, a campaign in support of an activist of BDS Austria sued over a Facebook post, updates on the repression of Palestinian civil society, an important ruling in Germany on the illegality of anti-BDS motion, and unfounded […]
Workshop in Support of Students’ On-Campus Activism in the UK
As the Israel Apartheid Week is approaching, the ELSC is participating in a workshop organised by Young Palestine Solidarity Campaign on the 8th of February at 6 PM London time. The workshop is tailored for student solidarity organisers and student activist groups in support of Palestinian rights. It aims to address what Israeli Apartheid Week is, as to guide student activists in organising for this important international Palestine solidarity event that mobilises support for the Palestinian struggle for justice and human rights at their respective universities.
The Negative Impact of the Vienna Anti-BDS Motion on the Rights of Freedoms Of Expression, Association and Assembly
This executive summary of the legal opinion published by the ELSC outlines how the ‘anti-BDS motion’ adopted by the Vienna City Council on 27 June 2018, and currently invoked in a lawsuit against BDS activist, infringes on the fundamental rights of freedoms of expression, association and assembly.
French Criminal Court Confirmed the Legitimate Character of BDS Call Dismissing the Allegations of Incitement to Discrimination Against Activist
On Thursday 27 January 2022, the Court of Appeal of Lyon (Cour d’Appel de Lyon) is set to hear the case of TEVA vs. Olivia Zémor. The defendant Olivia Zémor is the President of CAPJPO-EuroPalestine which is a group of BDS activists. She was acquitted on the 18 May 2021 by the criminal court (Tribunal Correctionnel de Lyon) dismissing the allegation of incitement to discrimination. The judgement, outlined below, is a turning point in protecting the right to boycott in French courts.
Europeans Jews for a Just Peace (EJJP) support BDS Austria and urge the Mayor of Vienna to desist from its lawsuit
On 25 January 2022, Europeans Jews for a Just Peace (EJJP) sent a letter to the Mayor of Vienna, urging the Municipality to drop its lawsuit against a Palestinian rights advocate member of BDS Austria.
60 International CSOs to Dutch Government: “Resume Dutch funding for UAWC, reject Israel’s designation of Palestinians NGOs”
Along with 59 other civil society organisations from all around the world, we asked the Dutch government to resume its funding for UAWC and to reject Israel’s designation of Palestinian NGOs. Indeed, the Dutch decision to cut funding was baseless, and the Dutch government also failed to reject the Israeli designation whereas it was recognised as unsubstantiated.
Public Campaign for Austrian Activist Facing Lawsuit
A member of BDS Austria is being sued by the Municipality of Vienna for sharing a Facebook post stating: ”Visit Apartheid – Free Palestine”. The Municipality has filed a strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP) to deliberately repress and intimidate BDS-Austria and Palestinian rights advocates. Such a tactic threatens democratic values and fundamental rights. The hearing at the Commercial Court of Vienna will take place on the 28th of January 2022.
ELSC Newsletter: November
Dear friend, This month we share with you important updates on challenging Israel’s attack on Palestinian civil society and the repression of Palestinian rights advocacy in Europe including in the Netherlands and the UK, a webinar, op-eds, and other news and resources. On the 29th of November, which marked the International Day of Solidarity with the […]
More than 100 Trade Unions, Political Parties and Human Rights Groups Send Letter to EU in Defence of 6 Palestinian Human Rights Organisations
The ELSC joined more than 100 organisations, groups and unions to ask the EU to take strong actions against the unfounded designation of six Palestinian human rights organisations as “terrorist”.
Workshop: Defending and Empowering Student Activism on Palestine
In partnership with DocP-BDS Nederland, the ELSC is organising an online workshop on “Defending and Empowering Student Activism on Palestine” addressed to students in The Netherlands, on the 2nd of December 2021 from 5:30 – 7:30 CET.
ELSC Newsletter: October
This month we share with you news on our work to push back against the criminalisation of Palestinian civil society by Israel as well as our new report on shrinking space and Palestinian rights advocacy in the Netherlands. We also share good news from the UK where the authorities rejected unfounded allegations by a lawfare group, updates from the BT3P team who challenged the German Parliament in Court, and new job and traineeship opportunities with the ELSC.
Joint Letter: The International Community Must Support and Protect Palestinian Civil Society
The ELSC joined 234 organisations to express solidarity with Palestinian civil society and human rights defenders after the latest attempt from the Israeli governement to silence them. We collectively urge the international community to take all necessary measures to protect them.
The ELSC calls on the EU to oppose Israel’s latest attempt to suppress Palestinian Civil Society
On 22 October 2021, the Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz announced the official designation of six prominent Palestinian human rights and civil society organisations (CSOs) as “terrorist” organisations.
German Court dismisses the complaint against the Bundestag’s anti-BDS resolution. The plaintiffs announce: “We will appeal!”
On October 7, 2021, the Administrative Court of Berlin held the first hearing on the complaint filed in 2020 by the Palestinian-Jewish-German initiative Bundestag 3 for Palestine (BT3P) that aimed at challenging the anti-Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions resolution adopted by the Bundestag in 2019.
Report reveals a pattern of attempts at silencing Palestinian rights advocates in the Netherlands
Today, the European Legal Support Center (ELSC), an organisation that monitors incidents of repression against Palestinian rights advocates in Europe and provides them with legal support, published a report on chilling Palestinian rights advocacy in the Netherlands. The report, which is the first of its kind ever published, highlights the many attempts to stifle activism, human rights work, artistic activities or simple political expression on Israel and the Palestinian people.
UK government dismisses latest attempt by UK Lawyers for Israel to harm Palestinian civil society
For many years now, politically-motivated actors have used legal fora to inflict damage on civil society organizations supporting Palestinian rights, by attempting to silence them and delegitimise their work. These attacks, generally referred to as “lawfare”, are mostly conducted by disinformation groups supporting Israel’s occupation and apartheid regime, such as: NGO Monitor, Regavim, Shurat HaDin, International Legal Forum, Lawfare Project, and UK Lawyers For Israel (UKLFI).
ELSC Newsletter: September
This month we share with you updates on our work protecting students and Palestinian advocates in the UK, a new report on European financial support for companies involved in the Israeli settlement enterprise, exciting news on the BT3P case challenging the German Bundestag, an important step challenging EU trade with occupied territories and a victory for academic freedom for an international legal scholar.
Berlin Administrative Court holds hearing for lawsuit of BT3P against German Bundestag
Since 2020, the ELSC has been supporting the BT3P team with lawyer Ahmed Abed to challenge the German Bundestag’s anti-Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) resolution that condemns the movement as antisemitic. Next week, the Berlin Administrative Court will hold a hearing on the case. The Palestinian-Jewish-German initiative Bundestag 3 for Palestine (BT3P) filed their lawsuit […]
New report exposes billions in European financial support to companies in illegal Israeli settlements
672 European financial institutions have financial relationships with 50 businesses that are actively involved with illegal Israeli settlements. These financial institutions provided US$ 114 billion in the form of loans and underwritings and held investments to the amount of US$ 141 billion in shares and bonds of these companies. This is the key finding of a new research report published today by a cross-regional coalition of Palestinian and European NGOs, which looked at financial flows between January 2018 and May 2021.
Webinar: Resisting the IHRA Definition
On the occasion of the launch of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign’s website ‘No to the IHRA definition’, the ELSC will be part of a panel to discuss the impact of the IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism on Palestinian rights advocacy and how to resist it. Wednesday 22 September 2021 at 7pm CET (6pm UK time) […]
Open Letter to impose a comprehensive two-way arms embargo Israel
The ELSC joined a global coalition of leaders from civil society to academia, art, media, business, politics, indigenous and faith communities, and people of conscience around the world– to call upon the States Parties to the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) to act decisively to put an end to Israel’s use of arms and military equipment […]
ELSC Newsletter: June
This month we share with you updates from our work around Europe. In Brussels, we sent a joint letter to the EU commission challenging the political instrumentalization of the controversial IHRA definition, in the UK we assisted students and academics to challenge repression when they speak up in defence of Palestinian rights and we challenged […]
22 Rights Groups Tell PayPal and Venmo to Shape Up Policies on Account Closures
Nearly two dozen rights groups, including the European Legal Support Center (ELSC) and our partner 7amleh, have joined together to tell PayPal and its subsidiary Venmo to shape up its policies on account freezes and closures.
Civil society letter to European Commission: counter political instrumentalization of antisemitism
Yesterday, 10 European NGOs and networks sent an open letter to the European Commission to raise concern about the political instrumentalization of the fight against antisemitism. The ELSC is one of the signatories.
Joint statement on censorship of Palestine campaigning in schools
Repression and censorship have increased as mobilization and protests for Palestinian rights in Europe have grown in the past few weeks. In the UK, children in schools were reprimanded, suspended or even excluded for speaking up about Palestine or showing solidarity through symbols associated with Palestine like flags. The ELSC signed this joint statement along with British organizations to ask the government of the UK to end its repressive policies against activism in schools.
ELSC Newsletter: May
This month we once again witnessed the brutal bombardment of Gaza and violent commission of human rights abuses by Israeli authorities and settlers. In a global response, communities worldwide rose in solidarity calling for freedom and justice in Palestine. Yet, this call was not without struggle as this month we share with you all too common stories of censorship and repression of Palestinian rights activists. We also share the news of a win in an EU court, part of the effort to stop trade with illegal settlements, as well as an update on the BT3P campaign challenging the German Bundestag’s anti-BDS motion.
ELSC Newsletter: April
This month, we have a few exciting victories for Palestinian rights advocacy. We recall an important success in The Netherlands, share with you a new report by Human Rights Watch detailing the crime of apartheid being committed by Israel against Palestinians, and report on the University of Toronto being censored for cancelling the employment of ELSC Advisory Board member Dr. Valentina Azarova for her human rights work.
Israeli Product Centre Fined for the Mislabelling of Products from the Occupied Palestinian Territory
On Friday 9 April, the Israeli Products Centre (IPC) based in Nijkerk, The Netherlands, received a fine of €2100 from the Dutch Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA) for mislabeling products originating in from Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt). The ELSC previously assisted the Dutch group docP who led a campaign for the IPC to correctly label products from the oPt, when they received a letter threatening legal action for their advocacy efforts. We welcome the decision of the NVWA as important signal showing that activists work for the respect of international law cannot be restricted by threats of legal action aimed at silencing Palestinian advocacy.
ELSC Newsletter: March
In this month’s newsletter, we share with you the release of the Jerusalem Declaration on Antisemitism, welcome a new member to the ELSC advisory board and highlight our 2021 work so far and how you can help to make this an important year for the protection of Palestinian rights advocacy in Europe. JERUSALEM DEFINITION ON […]
New Lawsuit against Denial of Public Space for Palestine-Related Event
In Germany, the campaigners Bundestag 3 for Palestine (BT3P) have initiated another strategic litigation. They are now challenging the city of Munich before the Administrative Court to be granted a public facility to host a panel discussion. The event is planned for 20 March to coincide with the Israeli Apartheid Week 2021. Judith Bernstein, Amir […]
Submission to the UN Special Rapporteur
The ELSC has welcomed the opportunity to make a submission to the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, Irene Khan, for her 2021 Human Rights Council report. The ELSC submission argued that the campaign initiated by the Israeli government and several politically motivated NGOs labelling the BDS movement and its supporters as inherently antisemitic amount to disinformation.
New legal brief finds HS2 Ltd. is permitted to excluded CAF from building UK’s high speed railway
A new legal brief produced jointly by the European Legal Support Center and Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights has found that it is legal for HS2 Ltd – the company building the UK’s new high speed railway HS2 – to exclude from its procurement process companies which are complicit in ongoing breaches of international law, such as Spanish construction company Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles (CAF).
Join the Campaign “Facebook, we Need to Talk.”
More than 35 organisations and 31,000 signatories are already supporting the campaign “Facebook, we need to talk – and you’re not letting us.” calling the main social media platform to not add Zionist to its hate speech policy. Right now, Facebook is reaching out to stakeholders to ask if critical conversations that use the term “Zionist” fall within the rubric of hate speech as per Facebook’s Community Standards. Basically, Facebook is assessing if “Zionist” is being used as a proxy for “Jewish people or Israelis” in attacks on its platform.
31 Human Rights Organisations, Networks & Trade Unions Demand CAF be included in UN Settlement Database
31 prominent human rights organisations, networks and trade unions from Palestine and Europe have submitted a report to the OHCHR demanding that CAF be included in the UN database of businesses involved in Israel’s illegal settlement enterprise for its role in expanding and operating Israel’s Jerusalem Light Rail (JLR).
We are suing the German Bundestag over its 2019 anti-BDS motion
The ELSC has been assisting lawyer Ahmed Abed who is representing three plaintiffs in a lawsuit brought before the Administrative Court of Berlin challenging the lawfulness of the anti-BDS motion passed by the German Bundestag on 17 May 2019.
Best Quotes of the Milestone Judgement for the Right to Boycott
Thursday 11 June 2020 marked a decisive victory for freedom of expression of Palestinian rights defenders in Europe. The European Court of Human Rights Court (ECtHR) rendered its judgement, unanimously ruling that the French highest court’s criminal conviction of BDS activists campaigning for a boycott of Israeli products violated their freedom of expression, protected by […]
Joint Open Letter to the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court: Time to Investigate Crimes in Palestine, Time for Justice
Along with 180 civil society coalitions and organisations, ELSC signed the Open Letter that was submitted to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Fatou Bensouda, on 29 April. We express our strong support for the opening of an investigation into Israeli war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, which was initiated by Bensouda in December.