Summer Updates & Recent Victories for the Defence of Palestinian Rights Advocacy in EuropePublished on Fri Aug 04 2023 - modified on Mon Sep 18 2023
We stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people facing mass repression in Jenin and everywhere else in the world. We have been kept very busy these past few months as Europe carried on with its concerted efforts to silence Palestine, and would now like to share with you some updates covering the period from April to July. The movement perseveres, and we have many victories to report!
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VICTORIES & CASE UPDATES
DOCUMENTA FIFTEEN CHARGES OF ANTISEMITISM DROPPED
In April 2023, Kassel’s Public Prosecutor dropped the charges of antisemitism concerning some artwork presented at the 15th edition of the renowned documenta art festival in Kassel, specifically targeted Palestinian artists and one artwork of an Indonesian artist displaying a pig and an Israeli Mossad agent.
Documenta fifteen, which was curated by Jakarta-based artists’ collective Ruangrupa and largely featured artists from the Global South, faced months of major smear campaigns for hosting Palestinian collectives and exhibits of Palestine solidarity.
The Prosecutor balanced the allegations with artistic freedom and context. To read the full declaration of the Prosecutor, contact us.
MAJOR UK ART CENTRE APOLOGISES AFTER ASKING SPEAKER TO AVOID TOPIC OF ‘FREE PALESTINE’
After asking Palestinian speaker Elias Anastas, a co-founder of the Palestine-based Radio Alhara, to avoid discussing ”free Palestine” at length during a livestreamed talk on the radical possibilities of radio, the Barbican Centre has now apologised for its intervention calling it an “unacceptable and a serious error of judgement”. The ELSC has advised Artists for Palestine UK, a network of pro-Palestinian artists and culture workers, who have successfully defended this crucial case against the silencing of Palestine!
GERMAN BROADCASTER DEUTSCHE WELLE TO COMPENSATE JOURNALIST FARAH MARAQA FOR UNLAWFUL DISMISSAL
German public broadcaster Deutsche Welle (DW), which fired seven Arab journalists in February 2022 based on allegations of antisemitism, will compensate journalist Farah Maraqa for unlawful dismissal and cover the legal fees, following the Court’s decision on 28 June. More will follow on the DW cases and the legal ramifications of the judgement. Stay tuned!
SUPPORT BDS AUSTRIA’S BRAVE BATTLE AGAINST THE MUNICIPALITY OF VIENNA
BDS Austria is still fighting the Municipality’s unjust Strategic Lawsuit against Public Participation (SLAPP) targeting them for posting a picture of the famous “Visit Apartheid” poster stuck on a billboard along with the City’s logo in 2021.
What happened in court on 14 July? After the Municipality of Vienna sent a scandalous settlement offer to the activist, the activist’s lawyer stated the reasons why they refused this proposal: the Municipality proposed withdrawing its complaint in exchange for payment of € 17,838.81, which is more than the damages requested in the trial. Moreover, the settlement proposal included a gagging clause preventing the BDS Austria activist from claiming that the City of Vienna had filed “SLAPP lawsuits” and/or “abusive lawsuits” against members of BDS! The judgement is expected to be delivered in a couple of months. The activist and their lawyer Elisabetta Folliero are ready to go up to the European Court of Human Rights to protect fundamental rights, and we will be there every step of the way to support them! We will not let this shameful affront to democracy and free speech stand!
📣 Join us in solidarity with BDS Austria – against the silencing of voices for justice; for the right to solidarity and freedom of expression!📣
AFFY AND ALIYA’S COURT HEARINGS AGAINST THE FINANCIAL GIANT LLOYDS BANK POSTPONED
Affy and Aliya’s hearings against Lloyds Bank have been postponed to 2024. The two women are fighting Lloyds’ discriminatory treatment after the bank sanctioned them for speaking out in support of Palestinian rights. Although their call for justice has been delayed, we will not let it go unanswered!
Join us and our dedicated supporters like James and Nicola in reaffirming Affy and Aliya’s unity and hope as they continue to fight the violation of their rights and institutionalised racism!
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ELSC NEW REPORT
In June, while the US Administration was releasing its strategy to combat antisemitism and the UN working on its own, we launched our new report exposing the harmful impacts of the IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism (IHRA WDA) – which conflates antisemitism with criticism of Israel – on the freedoms of expression and assembly in the EU and the UK. The report is the first case-based account of human rights violations resulting from the institutionalisation and application of the controversial IHRA definition by the European Union and the UK.
Our case studies unmask the biased arguments of the European Commission which has ignored and concealed the the repressive realities of the IHRA WDA for years.
It is time for EU institutions to recognise that the use of the IHRA WDA is infringing fundamental freedoms, causing real harmful effects for individuals and groups exercising their right to free speech in the name of justice!
RIGHT TO BDS
THE RIGHT TO BOYCOTT COALITION TO PUSH BACK AGAINST ANTI-DEMOCRATIC BILL IN THE UK
The ELSC has joined a coalition of civil society organisation made up of trade unions, charities, NGOs, faith, climate justice, human rights, cultural, campaigning, and solidarity organisations, in opposing the UK government’s proposed law to stop public bodies from advocating for or participating in boycott.
After a first vote in Parliament, the bill will be debated again in September. What can you do to help protecting our collective rights?
Are you a student in the UK? Check here how the bill would affect your activities and organise to oppose it!
Check all the materials prepared by the UK Palestine Solidarity Campaign here!
BARCELONA OMBUDSMAN RECOMMENDS BREAKING TIES WITH TEL AVIV: A HISTORICAL PRECEDENT LEADING TO CONCRETE POLITICAL ACTION
In a ground-breaking resolution, the Office of Barcelona’s Ombudsman recommended in December 2022 that the city revokes its Twinning Agreement with Tel Aviv over concerns about human rights violations committed by Israel against Palestinians. He emphasised that maintaining links with Israel constituted complicity in the commission of the crime of apartheid against Palestinians, thus setting an historical precedent among European public institutions in the denunciation of Israel’s crimes.
Few months later, Mayor of Barcelona Ada Colau suspended relations with Israel.
ELSC-SAOT PANEL DISCUSSION
As part of this year’s SAOT Palestine Solidarity Festival in Berlin, the ELSC organised a panel discussion together with Palestinian activists and journalists, which provided insight into the political context surrounding our struggles and critically assessed the ever-growing anti-Palestinian racism in Germany.
In line with the festival’s 2023 theme of victory, the discussion opened a conversation on how to successfully push back against these increasing attacks and empower the artist, activist, scholar, journalist, and all those who advocate for freedom and justice.
ELSC-FMEP PODCAST EPISODE ON THE IHRA DEFINITION
The ELSC was invited to the Foundation for Middle East Peace (FMEP) podcast to talk to Lara Friedman about our new report on the suppression of Palestinian rights advocacy through the IHRA definition of antisemitism.
ELSC NEW REPORT IN BELGIAN NEWS
Our new report on the IHRA definition was featured in an oped published in Le Soir by our partners from Association belgo-palestinienne (ABP), Union des progressistes juifs de Belgique (UPJB), Een Andere Joodse Stem (EAJS) and Palestina Solidariteit. This comes at a time in which Belgian municipalities face increasing backlash for suspending relations with Israel until it respects international law.
ELSC’S STATEMENT AGAINST THE NAKBA DEMONSTRATION BANS IN GERMANY ON MONDOWEISS
Read Hebh Jamal’s piece on Mondoweiss referencing our statement against Germany’s criminalisation of Palestinian existence in light of the repeated bans of Nakba commemoration and numerous arrests of anyone and anything visibly Palestinian.
ELSC FEATURED ON THE NEW ARAB: TOGETHER AGAINST THE UK’S ANTI-BOYCOTT BILL
We spoke with the New Arab on the coalition of more than 70 organisations in the UK who have come together to oppose this bill. Read the article here.
NEW UN REPORT RAISING SERIOUS CONCERNS ON THE NEGATIVE IMPACT OF THE IHRA DEFINITION ON FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS
A new UN report affirms restrictions and harassment of Palestinian civil society through intensified coordination between the Israeli government and pro-Israel groups globally and through the instrumentalisation of the harmful IHRA definition of antisemitism.
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REPRESSION IN GERMANY
Watch this short documentary by The New Arab on how Germany’s history of antisemitism is used to silence pro-Palestine activism. The ELSC has published a related short video, exposing how the Berlin police normalised their racist aggression against Palestinians and their allies in Germany in light of the repeated Nakba bans.
Thank you for your continued support!
The ELSC team
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