ELSC Newsletter: March 2022Published on Wed Apr 06 2022 - modified on Tue Apr 19 2022
This month was marked by Women’s Rights Day as well as the Israeli Apartheid Week, where many students and activists organised events and protests to show solidarity with the Palestinian people and raise awareness about the Israeli apartheid. This week was not free from censorship, especially on campus, as shown by an incident in The Netherlands. We also share updates from the European Citizens’ Initiative Campaign as well as news from Germany, Austria, and a vacancy to work with us in the UK!
A GREAT JOB OPPORTUNITY IN THE UK
We are seeking a Legal Officer to oversee our cases and projects emanating from the UK. If you want to join a young and dynamic team and you’re passionate about defending Palestinian rights advocacy and UK law, apply before 17 April 2022.
The role will cover: a) overseeing casework and research on the repression of Palestinian rights advocates in the UK; b) providing legal advice to ELSC clients on their rights under UK domestic law and European human rights law; c) developing strategies and guides to defend those affected by restrictive policies; d) analysing relevant legislation and jurisprudence under UK and EU law; and e) organising and participating in workshops and advocacy events.
MUNICIPALITY OF VIENNA V. BDS AUSTRIA
Two months after the hearing in Vienna, BDS Austria is still waiting for a ruling by the Court on the lawsuit filed by the Municipality of Vienna over a social media post of the famous “Visit Apartheid” poster. The anti-SLAPP task force Protect the Protest interviewed BDS Austria about the SLAPP they are facing. The group shared a strong message:
“continue doing the work, build networks, and seek international support”
BDS Austria stands strong and keeps protesting against Israeli apartheid and against the attempts to silence them. It is time now to reinforce the pressure. Email directly the Mayor of Vienna to ask him to end this lawsuit.
CENSORSHIP IN THE NETHERLANDS
While the case of the Freedom of Information (FOI-WOB) request by The Rights Forum – that triggered a harsh smear campaign against the leading Dutch NGO – is still pending, the ELSC supported a new case of censorship in Leiden University.
Students for Palestine, a group of activist students in The Hague, organised a panel discussion on apartheid in Leiden University with South African and Palestinian scholars. Only a few days before the date of the event planned for the beginning of the Israeli Apartheid Week, the University refused to host the event, alleging that the chair – the well-respected scholar in anthropology and law Dina Zbeidy – was “not neutral”.
After hundreds of academics and students protested this breach of academic freedom and raised concerns of anti-Palestinian racism, the University accepted to host the event on a different campus, but again, required to replace the chair. As the students refused to give in to the pressure, Leiden University cancelled again the event, which eventually took place in a cultural venue in The Hague. This incident caught the attention of BIJ1 MP Sylvana Simons who raised a question in Parliament.
UPDATES FROM GERMANY
Following the dismissal of 7 journalists and the publication of an extremely biased investigation by the Deutsche Welle (DW), Palestinian-Jordanian Farah Maraqa took the German state broadcaster to court and had a first hearing. Farah Maraqa, who the ELSC is supporting, is determined to pursue her legal battle against her unsubstantiated termination.
The DW has set a very dangerous precedent for the freedom of the press in Germany. The fact that the IHRA definition was used as a frame of the investigation shows, again, the very worrying chilling effect of the definition on freedom of expression and on accurate reporting on Israel-Palestine.
Nevertheless, legal battles are worth undertaking since, in the past years, we have observed a coherent and positive case law on anti-BDS policies in Germany. In 8 decisions, German courts have consistently upheld the right of activists to use public facilities for BDS-related events, thus reaffirming the legitimacy of BDS.
This reinforces 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.
TAKE ACTION TO BAN TRADE WITH THE SETTLEMENTS
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 (ECI) petition. 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.
CHALLENGING REPRESSION OF PALESTINIAN CIVIL SOCIETY AND APARTHEID
In a joint letter with the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, we asked key EU institutions and Member States to uphold international law at the 49th session of the UN Human Rights Council. We asked, in particular, the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs to condemn Israel’s apartheid and to call on Israel to revoke the unsubstantiated designation of the 6 prominent Palestinian CSOs.
At the occasion of the UN Human Rights Council, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the OPT Michael Lynk also published its report. It concludes that Israel has been imposing an apartheid regime over the Palestinian people and acknowledges the settler-colonial nature of Israel’s occupation and apartheid.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 email@example.com.