ELSC Newsletter: April

Published on Tue May 04 2021

Dear friend,

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.


Earlier this month we shared details of a major win for activists in the Netherlands after the Israeli Product Centre (IPC) was fined €2100 for mislabelling products originating from Israeli settlements in Palestine.

DocP (BDS Netherlands), who led this campaign, had previously been threatened with a defamation lawsuit by the IPC because of their advocacy efforts which highlighted that incorrect labelling could result in a possible evasion of import duties. The ELSC assisted docP in their response to the IPC’s threat by clarifying the legal basis for the accusation of mislabelling and that the evasion of import duties was a suspicion.

In the EU, products originating from illegal Israeli settlements must be clearly labelled that their provenance is from “occupied territory” and an “Israeli settlement”. In accordance with the 2019 Psagot judgement, these labelling requirements apply in all 27 EU member states.

We congratulate docP for this important win and for continuing their activism in the face of repression. The ELSC continues to support activists in the Netherlands and throughout Europe who seek to end the import and trade of products from illegal Israeli settlements.

Read more about the case here

The ELSC relies on generous donations in order to defend Palestinian rights advocacy all across Europe. As the first and only organization protecting the solidarity movement in Europe, we push back against acts of repression and need your support to do so.

Please consider supporting us by giving a monthly tax-exempt donation or a one-time donation to help us realize our 2021 goals. Read more about our 2021 work so far here. For further info on how to make your contribution tax-free please contact


On April 27, Human Rights Watch released a report detailing the crimes of apartheid and persecution being committed by the Israeli government against Palestinians. The report is based on findings of Israeli legislation and government policy that maintains the domination by Jewish Israelis over Palestinians, while systematically committing grave human rights abuses against Palestinians living in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory, i.e., the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza.

The report reflects years of advocacy by Palestinian civil society who have long claimed Israeli policy and actions over Palestinians constitute the crime of apartheid. As stated by Human Rights Watch Executive Director, Kenneth Roth, “Prominent voices have warned for years that apartheid lurks just around the corner if the trajectory of Israel’s rule over Palestinians does not change, this detailed study shows that Israeli authorities have already turned that corner and today are committing the crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution.”

Human Rights Watch is the first major international NGO to address the crime of apartheid in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory. We hope this report will be a turning point for individuals and the international community alike in investigating, condemning and taking action to end the lived reality of apartheid and persecution for millions of Palestinians.

Read the report “A Threshold Crossed: Israeli Authorities and the Crimes of Apartheid and Persecution” here


This month, delegates to the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) council voted to impose a rare censure on the University of Toronto for cancelling the hiring of ELSC Advisory Board member, Dr. Valentina Azarova.

Dr. Azarova, a distinguished legal Scholar and practitioner, research fellow at Manchester International Law Centre (MILC) and legal advisor to the Global Legal Action Network (GLAN), was abruptly removed from the hiring process at the University of Toronto following ‘concerns’ on her academic work on human rights in Israel and Palestine.

The council of the CAUT found that cancelling the hiring of Dr Azarova constituted a grave breach of widely recognized principles of academic freedom and took the decision to censure Toronto University for their action. This measure, last imposed by the CAUT in 2008, asks academic staff across Canada to not accept appointments or speaking engagements at the institution until satisfactory changes are made.

“The decision to censure was not taken lightly. It is a measure of last resort used only when we are faced with serious violations of academic freedom and other principles that are fundamental to higher education,” explained CAUT Executive Director David Robinson.

The CAUT vote sends an important message to universities everywhere that discrimination against Palestinian human rights advocates is unacceptable. The ELSC welcomes this decision and we hope the University of Toronto will issue a full apology and hire Dr. Azarova, ensuring such actions do not occur again.”

ELSC Director, Giovanni Fassina

Read the CAUT press release here


Read here a new report published by the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (an FIDH-OMCT partnership) on the Israeli government’s campaign to silence and discredit Israeli, Palestinian and Syrian Golan Heights-based human rights NGOs.

The report highlights the strategy put in place by the Israeli government, in particular, the Ministry of Strategic Affairs and Public Diplomacy (MSA), which aims to delegitimise critical civil society voices through “naming and shaming” and associating them with terrorism or antisemitism; putting pressure on anyone that provides a platform for their discourse; and lobbying to cut off their sources of funding.

Read the report here

The UK-based organization, Free Speech on Israel, this month released a new report on how the IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism is being misrepresented. The report, written by University of Oxford academic Jamie Stern-Weiner details how the IHRA definition was manipulated to protect the State of Israel from legitimate criticism by equating such criticism with antisemtism.

Read the report here

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