ELSC Newsletter: FebruaryPublished on Sat Mar 05 2022 - modified on Thu Apr 14 2022
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.
A VICTORY IN THE UK
We are excited to share the victory of Shahd Abusalama who defeated unfounded allegations intended to exclude her from academia and repress her legitimate criticism of Israel’s unlawful apartheid regime. After Shahd was suspended from a teaching position at Sheffield Hallam University, the ELSC supported her legally, alongside a wide public campaign launched #InSupportofShahd. As a result of our combined efforts, the University reinstated Shahd’s teaching, confirmed it would not be investigating the accusations and offered her a more secure contract.
SWISS PRESS COUNCIL STANDS WITH BDS
BDS Switzerland member Birgit Althaler, supported by the ELSC, succeeded in challenging efforts by the Swiss Federation of Jewish Communities to push the Swiss Press Council to revoke a decision in favour of BDS. Indeed, in a milestone decision on 15 February, the Swiss Press Council upheld its initial decision to sanction Prime News that unfoundedly labelled BDS Switzerland as “antisemitic”. The Council also acknowledged that the controversial examples of the IHRA-WDA are not suitable for journalistic purposes.
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UPDATES FROM GERMANY
Despite anti-BDS policies in place in Germany, since 2019, 7 German courts have consistently upheld the right of activists to use public facilities for BDS-related events, reaffirming the legitimacy of BDS.
The latest ruling of Leipzig Federal Court on 20 January 2022 against Munich’s anti-BDS resolution has already resulted in positive outcomes for the Palestine solidarity movement. In Munich, the cultural institution Eine Welt Haus declared that it will host again BDS-related events. In Frankfurt, an official also announced that the municipal venue Saalbau is renting again its spaces for BDS-related activities.
Positive precedents in Germany reinforce the lawsuit of the Bundestag 3 for Palestine (BT3P) aiming to repeal the German Parliament’s anti-BDS resolution and end this tactic of repression targeting Palestinian rights advocates.
The repression against Palestinian voices extends in the media as the German state broadcaster Deutsche Welle (DW) fired seven Arab journalists; four of them are Palestinians including Farah Maraqa whom the ELSC has been supporting.
DW relied on a highly politicised and biased investigation report that erases the Palestinian reality from public debate and perpetuates Israel’s oppression. The investigation evidently uses the controversial IHRA definition on antisemitism, which is misused to silence criticism of Israel.
In a joint letter, 100 civil society organisations, including the ELSC, urged DW to retract its inaccurate and defamatory report and end its unfounded smear campaigns against journalists that amplify Palestinian voices.
EUROPEAN LANDMARK EUROPEAN CITIZENS INITIATIVE
The Stop Settlements coalition – of which the ELSC is part – has launched its European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) petition aimed at gathering 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 obligations.
REPRESSION IN THE NETHERLANDS
The Rights Forum, a leading Palestinian rights organisation in the Netherlands, is facing a harsh smear campaign led by Israel-advocacy groups after the leak of a legitimate Freedom of Information (FOI) request the organisation made on behalf of academics and students to Dutch universities. The goal of the FOI was to get information on their ties to Israeli academic institutions and companies, as well as other organisations supportive of Israel’s regime of apartheid.
In a recent repression attempt, the student-led organisation Free Palestine Maastricht (FPM) has been targeted in an unfounded smear campaign by Israel-advocacy groups and political actors that aim to suppress the organisation’s legitimate work of exposing Israel’s apartheid, and push the University of Maastricht to investigate them.
MUNICIPALITY OF VIENNA V. BDS AUSTRIA
One month after the hearing in Vienna, BDS Austria activist is still waiting for a ruling by the Court on the “urgent” request of the Municipality of Vienna that filed a lawsuit against him over a Facebook post of the famous “Visit Apartheid” poster.
The tactic of delayed court decisions is often characteristic of SLAPPs and is meant to intimidate activists and suppress their legitimate public participation in civic space.
RESOURCES AND NEWS FROM AROUND EUROPE
On 1 February 2022, Amnesty International reaffirmed decades of Palestinian rights advocacy and released its report condemning Israel’s apartheid against Palestinians as a cruel system of domination and a crime against humanity. Amnesty has also launched its petition “Demolish Apartheid not Palestinian Homes”.