ELSC Newsletter: March

Published on Wed Apr 07 2021 - modified on Tue May 04 2021

In this month’s newsletter, we share with you the release of the Jerusalem Declaration on Antisemitism, welcome a new member to the ELSC advisory board and highlight our 2021 work so far and how you can help to make this an important year for the protection of Palestinian rights advocacy in Europe.


On 25 March, the Jerusalem Declaration on Antisemitism (JDA) drafted by 200 Jewish scholars and academics was released. The JDA offers an alternative to the International Holocaust Remembrance Association Definition (IHRA) which has been weaponised to restrict free speech on Palestine.

The ELSC welcomes the JDA as an alternative to the IHRA definition of Antisemitism. However, we also share the concerns of Palestinian civil society and prominent Jewish groups that the JDA, with its focus on Israel/Palestine, will reinforce the policing of what may be said by advocates for Palestinian rights, distracting, ,  from the fight against antisemitism as part of the fight against all forms of racism, bigotry and discrimination.

A full and detailed critique of the JDA by Palestinian civil society can be found here.


So far this year, the ELSC has been defending Palestinian rights activists against smear campaigns, defunding attacks and threats to academic freedom all across Europe. In three short months, we have been engaged in 23 cases, pushing back against the suppression of advocacy for Palestinian rights, whilst we have also continued our systematic documentation of such attacks in The Netherlands and UK through our monitoring activities.

We are pleased to have contributed to a  strategic legal victory for the Palestine solidarity movement in Valencia at the beginning of this year. Nevertheless, the large number of requests for ELSC legal support and assistance are a steady reminder of the ongoing struggle many face when speaking out for Palestinian rights

You can help us ensure that all of those who are attacked for speaking out for Palestinian rights in Europe receive free legal advice and support by making a one time or monthly donation to the ELSC. Irrespective of whether or not you can make a donation at this time, please follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, sharing our posts and spreading the word that we will not stand down when Palestinian rights are restricted.


This month we are very pleased to welcome Dr. Triestino Mariniello to the ELSC Advisory Board. Dr Mariniello is a Senior Lecturer in Law at Liverpool John Moores University and is presently a member of the Legal Team representing Gaza Victims before the ICC.

The ELSC Advisory Board is comprised of 14 renowned jurists and scholars from diverse European countries, who support Palestinian rights and provide professional assistance to civil society-led advocacy. We look forward to the advice and support of Dr. Mariniello.


Palestine Legal, one of our partner organisations in the United States, has just released its new year-in-review, analysing trends in the censorship of the US movement for Palestinian Rights in 2020, in the context of the Trump administration’s crackdown on Palestine advocacy and the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Palestine Legal responded to 213 incidents of suppression of U.S.-based Palestine advocacy over the course of 2020, bringing up the total to 1,707 since 2014. The incidents included discrimination, baseless legal threats, disciplinary investigations, censorship, and false accusations of antisemitism.

Take also a look at Pal Legal interactive website tracking legislative efforts to silence Palestine advocacy in the US. The new legislation site tracks anti-boycott bills, efforts to redefine antisemitism as a means of censoring criticism of Israel, and other measures aimed at undermining advocacy for Palestinian rights in the U.S., by type, status, and year.

In March, the City Council of Strasbourg voted against the adoption of the IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism in an important win on the right to free speech.  Following the vote, City Councillor Jean Werlen said:

“First, there is a Strasbourg tradition of never importing foreign conflicts into local religious communities. Second, it is out of the question to deny citizens the right to criticise a state, even a foreign one. We must condemn antisemitism, but we must be able to criticise a state and this definition prohibits any criticism of the policy of the State of Israel.”

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