ELSC Newsletter: September 2022Published on Wed Oct 12 2022 - modified on Fri Oct 14 2022
Throughout the past few months, the solidarity movement has won several victories in pushing back against repression. Through legal challenge and public advocacy, it is possible to make our critical voices heard!
We need your continued support to keep up the crucial fight for freedom of expression and Palestinian rights.
And don’t forget to sign up to our newsletter!
GERMANY: TWO SUCCESSFUL LAWSUITS AGAINST DEUTSCHE WELLE
In July 2022, we witnessed the first victory for a journalist involved in the Deutsche Welle (DW) case that began back in February 2022, when the public broadcaster fired seven Arab journalists based on allegations of antisemitism. The Bonn Labour Court found that the dismissal of Palestinian journalist Maram Salem by the German outlet was unlawful.
Then, in September 2022, the Berlin Labour Court ruled in favour of Farah Maraqa, ordering DW to reinstate her and cover the costs of the legal dispute.
The ELSC is proud to have supported Farah Maraqa, who stood firm in her convictions and had the courage to take DW to court.
However, the DW management seems to have institutionalised its prejudiced stance in a new Code of Conduct that mentions Israel twice, including: “Due to Germany’s history, we have a special obligation towards Israel.” It is unclear what obligations this statement is implying for DW employees or subcontractors. This raises important questions related to press independence.
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NETHERLANDS: A POSITIVE PRESS COUNCIL DECISION FOR PALESTINIAN RIGHTS ADVOCATES
This is an important achievement considering the Dutch NGO has been facing a harsh smear campaign since the beginning of the year, after it filed a Freedom of Information Request (FOI) seeking to research ties between Dutch universities and pro-Israel advocacy groups as well as Israeli institutions, government agencies and Israeli arms, surveillance and security companies.
The Rights Forum also achieved a significant victory against disinformation. After the organisation alerted Google about a Google ad sponsored by the Israeli government labelling Amnesty International as antisemitic, Google took down the ad within one day.
DOCUMENTA FIFTEEN: “WE ARE DETERMINED, WE ARE TOGETHER, WE ARE NOT GIVING UP”
On 25 September 2022, the world’s largest contemporary art exhibition, documenta fifteen, closed after months of brutal and unfounded allegations against the curators ruangrupa, members of the artistic team and participating artists. Palestinian artists and others who expressed solidarity with them faced smears, insults, assaults, death threats, cyber harassment and vandalism.
In the latest development, a committee appointed to investigate antisemitism into documenta fifteen issued a very controversial preliminary report and a statement accusing the lumbung community (ruangrupa and artists) of Israel-related antisemitism. The community responded with a powerful statement denouncing racism, Eurocentrism and censorship.
VIENNA: NEW COURSE AT VIENNA FINE ARTS ACADEMY SIGNALS FURTHER ERASURE OF PALESTINIAN NARRATIVE
The Austrian institution that censored Palestinian academic Dr. Walaa Alqaisiyia will host a course entitled “Antiantianti – Conflicts about Antiantisemitism and Antiracism in the Politicized Art World” and will be using Walaa’s disinvitation as a case study.
The abstract of the course clearly displays a pro-Israel bias and misrepresents the Palestine solidarity movement. We condemn the holding of a course that is likely to fuel insidious censorship of genuine anti-racist discourse.
#STOPTRADEWITHSETTLEMENTS: A NEW PARTNER IN THE GLOBAL CAMPAIGN TO BAN EU TRADE WITH ILLEGAL SETTLEMENTS
Avaaz just joined the #StopTradeWithSettlements coalition and calls on everyone to sign the European Citizens’ Initiative to ban EU trade with illegal settlements!
Friends of the Earth Europe also published a compelling and important blog post over the summer. The largest grassroots environmental network in Europe explains the link between food sovereignty in Palestine and Israeli settlements, highlighting the necessity to stop all EU trade with the latter.
#STANDWITHTHE6: A NEW PHASE OF REPRESSION AGAINST PALESTINIAN CIVIL SOCIETY
On the morning of 18 August 2022, the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) raided the offices of seven Palestinian organisations including the six that were designated as “terrorist” by the Israeli government in October 2021. The IOF confiscated documents and equipment, destroyed material, sealed entrance doors and left military orders ordering the closure of the organisations. Over 150 organisations, including the ELSC, demanded the international community take all the necessary action to support and protect Palestinian human rights defenders.
So far, the EU has remained quiescent on the matter, as it has regarding the protection of French-Palestinian human rights defender Salah Hammouri. For the past two decades, Salah has been subjected to constant harassment and deprivation of his fundamental rights by Israeli authorities. His three-month administrative detention based on “secret evidence” was again renewed at the beginning of September 2022 and he has now been transferred into solitary confinement. Along with other political prisoners, Salah began a hunger strike on 25 September and has since been deprived of salt. Read more in the urgent letter sent to French President Emmanuel Macron by Salah’s lawyers.
Undeterred by these worrying recent developments which contradict the basic principles of international law, the EU continues to tighten its cooperation with Israel by convening the EU-Israel Association Council after 10 years amid widespread protest from Palestinian, European, and international civil society organisations.
RESOURCES & NEWS FROM AROUND EUROPE AND BEYOND
#PromisedLand: the Italian centre for investigative journalism Irpi Media launched a series of reports exposing the links between the Israeli government and far-right parties in Europe. The first piece of “Promised Land”, authored by journalists Christian Elia and Lorenzo Bagnoli, shows how the Italian far-right cultivates relationships with antisemitic figures while strongly supporting Israel’s policies, including silencing pro-Palestine voices.
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Our Canadian partners, Independent Jewish Voices (IJV), are launching a pivotal report on the suppression of speech concerning Palestine in Canada. Join the report launch event with a panel of brilliant activists and scholars, including Anna-Esther Younes.
Dr Anna-Esther Younes has herself been facing ongoing attempts to suppress her voice as a Palestinian decolonial scholar. Read more about her case and how you can help us push back against increasing repression in Europe below:
The ELSC recently joined CASE, the Coalition Against SLAPPs in Europe! We are happy to join other non-governmental organisations united in recognition of the threat posed to public watchdogs by SLAPPs (Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation). SLAPPs are an abuse of the legal system and an attempt to intimidate and silence public watchdogs, including Palestinian rights advocates, through lengthy and expensive litigation that drains a target’s resources and seeks to dissuade critical voices.
With CASE, we will work to expose legal harassment and intimidation, protect the rights of those who speak out and advocate for comprehensive protective measures and reform. As part of this work, the ELSC will join the next European Anti-SLAPP Conference in Strasbourg on 20 October 2022.
Remember to follow the ELSC on social media @elsclegal and amplify our work!
If you are a legal practitioner or a volunteer who wants to be part of our movement in support of Palestinian rights advocates, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo: CC Jan-Hendrik Pelz12, “An Inner Place” talk at the documenta fifteen exhibition.