ELSC Newsletter: April 2022Published on Thu May 12 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.
This case illustrates the increasing violation of democratic principles with respect to Palestinian rights advocates across Europe and Germany in particular. It infringes on the right to privacy, freedom of expression and the participation in public life of anti-racist and decolonial advocates in Europe. Read here Middle East Eye’s report on the case.
Thanks to your support we aimed to raise more than 600 euros to sustain Dr. Younes’ legal costs. We need more help to cover the total costs of the lawsuits and support other advocates in Germany who might face surveillance as well.
Over 500 scholars, activists, artists, organisations and human rights defenders signed a letter to support Dr. Anna Younes and other scholars, activists and journalists against censorship and surveillance in Germany. Angela Davis, Judith Butler, Noam Chomsky, Roger Waters and others signed the letter, join them!
NEW SUCCESSES FOR BDS IN GERMANY
Despite the harsh climate for Palestinian rights advocates in Germany, two new judgements delivered on the 21st of April and the 26th of April in Stuttgart shows us, again, that litigation to defend our fundamental rights works.
Palästinakomitee Stuttgart was targeted by several unfounded smear campaigns because of their support to the Palestinian-led BDS movement. In two different episodes, the City of Stuttgart withdrew the Committee’s access to the City’s website to advertise their activities, and the Landesbank Baden-Württemberg Bank announced the termnation of their bank accounts. Both decisions where based on the German Parliament’s anti-BDS resolution (among other reasons).
The activists legally challenged those undemocratic decisions and the Courts gave them reason. The Administrative Court and the Regional Court of Stuttgart both held that the Bundestag’s anti-BDS resolution lacks any legal binding effect. The Administrative Court reaffirmed that the BDS movement does not incite hatred against the Jewish people, and that it must be protected from undue interference.
These decisions are consistent with a growing trend in German case law, which upholds the legitimacy of BDS. Read our analysis. Ahmed Abed, the lawyer who defended the Stuttgart activists, is also challenging the German Bundestag’s anti-BDS resolution with the Palestinian-Jewish-German team of activists BT3P.
A HIGHLY CONTESTABLE JUDGEMENT AGAINST BDS AUSTRIA
In a decision delivered on 6 April 2022, the Commercial Court of Vienna endorsed the City of Vienna’s lawsuit, ruling against the BDS activists.
The Court’s decision is deeply problematic as it ignores the evidence submitted on behalf of the BDS activist, including legal opinions of renowned international and Israeli scholars. Furthermore, the Court ignored the existence of the Israeli system of apartheid towards Palestinians, a fact that is meticulously documented by organisations such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, B’tselem and the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.
The BDS activist intends to appeal the decision and is ready, if necessary, to stand before the European Court of Human Rights to assert his fundamental right to freedom of expression.
THE RIGHT TO BOYCOTT THREATENED IN THE UK
The UK government is proposing an “anti-boycott bill” that, if passed, could dramatically affect individual and organisations’ ability to campaign for social and climate justice in the UK and around the world. We are proud to be among the 40+ organisations opposing this bill.
BANNING EU TRADE WITH ILLEGAL SETTLEMENTS: HELP US GET TO 1 MILLION SIGNATURES!
More than 170 organisations, including the ELSC, Human Rights Watch, Friends of the Earth, Avaaz and many others, joined the Stop Settlements Coalition calling to sign the European Citizens’ Initiative. We need 1 million signatures to push the EU to enact a ban on trade with illegal settlements in occupied territories, in line with its international law and EU trade obligations.
WEBINARS ON THE WEAPONISATION OF THE FIGHT AGAINST ANTISEMITISM TO SILENCE CRITICISM OF ISRAEL
Law For Palestine held a webinar on “The Anti-Semitism Label: Fighting Discrimination V. Silencing Critical Voices”. The webinar examined the IHRA definition of Anti-Semitism, which many states and institutions have endorsed as a tool to combat antisemitism. Our Director Giovanni Fassina joined Former UN Special Rapporteur on Palestine Professor Richard Falk and Professor of International Law Neve Gordon in the panel.
This month, the ELSC also participated to the webinar “Enforcing Silence: the Criticism of Israel, freedom of expression and anti-Semitism label”, organised by the Community Action Center – Al-Quds University. The event presented the definitions of anti-Semitism, notably among EU countries, limitations on the academic freedom of opinion, journalists’ freedom of expression, and the persecution of critics of the ongoing Israeli policies and practices against the Palestinian people.
The ELSC will participate to a webinar organized by BRISMES on “Teaching Palestine in the Present”, on the 4th May 2022, 16:00-18:00 (UK time). Join us and register below.
2 CALLS FOR APPLICATION FROM PALESTINE
The Palestinian NGOs Network (PNGO) is looking for an experienced and driven Advocacy Expert who can strategically develop their understanding of, and relationships with, the institutions of the European Union and relevant bodies. The EU Advocacy Expert will support PNGO in amplifying the Palestinian narrative and the effectiveness of Palestinian advocacy efforts in the EU.
BADIL Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights opened its call for applications for its International Mobilization Course on the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People in Palestine from Sunday 24 July to Tuesday 2 August. A great opportunity for international advocates, researchers, activists, policy officers to gain a deeper understanding of a human rights based approach to international mobilisation for the rights of the Palestinian people.
If you are interested in empowering the Palestine Solidarity Movement in Europe, we welcome your one-time or monthly donations to the ELSC. For any inquiries, contact us at email@example.com.
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.