The ELSC has developed and gathered useful resources for Palestine advocates in Europe.
ELSC MaterialsSee all ELSC materials
Freedom of Speech and Academic Freedom in UK Higher Education: The Adverse Impact of the IHRA Definition of Antisemitism
A controversial definition of antisemitism that conflates criticisms of Israel with antisemitism has been used on campuses, leading to restrictions on the freedom of speech of staff and students, the new report reveals. This is the first study to expose the harmful implications of the IHRA Definition of Antisemitism following its adoption in UK universities. It was conducted by the British Society for Middle Eastern Studies (BRISMES), the largest academic association in Europe focused on the study of the Middle East and North Africa, and the European Legal Support Center (ELSC). The report demonstrates that the definition is not fit for purpose and is infringing on academic freedom and freedom of speech, while also harming the mental health, reputation and career prospects of students and staff.
Suppressing Palestinian Rights Advocacy through the IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism
On 6 June 2023, the European Legal Support Center (ELSC) launched its new report “Suppressing Palestinian Rights Advocacy through the IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism – Violating the Rights to Freedom of Expression and Assembly in the European Union and the UK”. The report is the first case-based account of human rights violations resulting from the institutionalisation and application of the controversial IHRA definition by the European Union and the UK. The growing concerns about the negative human rights impact of the IHRA definition, have so far been ignored by the EU.
The European Commission “Handbook” Promoting the Controversial IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism: A Legal Analysis
On 7 January 2021, the European Commission (“EC”) published a “Handbook for the practical use of the IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism” (hereafter: Handbook), notwithstanding the widespread criticism and concerns surrounding the International Holocaust Alliance’s Working Definition of Antisemitism (hereafter: IHRA-WDA) in the last years. As also reflected in its title, the Handbook aims to promote Good Practices in the application of the IHRA-WDA. It contains sections on the IHRA-WDA, presents the 11 Contemporary Examples of Antisemitism attached to it (hereafter: Examples) and lists (alleged) antisemitic incidents. It also offers Good Practices on the use of the IHRA-WDA in various policy areas, including law enforcement, the judiciary and education; and contains a Good Practices checklist.
External MaterialsSee all external materials
Infographics: A System of Silencing
As recognition of Israeli apartheid grows, the Israeli regime and its supporters continuously develop tactics to silence advocates for the Palestinian liberation movement as well as any criticism of Israel. This visual, the first in our series on the theme of freedom of expression, captures this system of silencing, and the many actors involved in maintaining it.
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When the Notion of “Israel’s Right to Exist” is Used to Target Palestinian Rights Advocates with Unfounded Allegations: Expert Reports
UK-based organisation CAGE published two expert reports signed by leading scholars, Professor John Dugard SC  and Professor Avi Shlaim  on the notion of “Israel’s right to exist”.
As observed in several cases of suppression of Palestinian rights advocacy, this concept is often very broadly interpreted by pro-Israel actors and raised to purport allegations of antisemitism. It has been used, to list a few examples, to repress:
- Palestinian rights advocates carrying banners in protests showing the map of historic Palestine, a very common display in Palestinian culture and solidarity movement;
- Individuals and organisations expressing about the historical turning point that constituted the Nakba;
- Individuals and organisations expressing on the concept of settler colonialism in relation to Israel.
These two reports challenging the prevailing narrative on the notion of “Israel’s right to exist” and replacing it in a legal context are useful tools to rebut common unfounded claims made against Palestinian rights advocates.
The reports are part of CAGE’s legal action against UK’s former Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson, who sent a very controversial guidance to schools in May 2021, when Palestinian civilians were facing violent military attacks by the Israeli army. After forcing British Higher Education Institutions to adopt the biased IHRA definition of antisemitism, Williamson also urged schools not to work with organisations that “reject Israel’s right to exist”, without explaining the meaning of it. Read more.
 Professor John Dugard has been a Senior Counsel in Australia for over twenty years, and is an associate at Doughty Street Chambers, renowned for their human rights and civil liberties work, and international law legal consultant at the Hague. He has spent time at the United National International Law Commission and International Court of Justice and served as the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Additionally, he has written extensively about international law and apartheid, including in Palestine.
 Professor Avi Shlaim is a former professor at the University of Oxford. His academic expertise is the international relations of the Middle East, focusing primarily on the Arab-Israeli conflict, a subject on which he has been published widely over the years. He has also written specifically about the question of Israel’s right to exist and the dynamics of antisemitism within the discourse on anti-Zionism and the Israel-Palestine conflict. As such, it is clear that these two individuals are well suited to provide expert evidence in a judicial review of this nature and on the subject of Israel-Palestine more broadly.
Image from Unsplash courtesy of Yousef Salhamoud
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Report: Unveiling the Chilly Climate – The Suppression of Speech on Palestine in Canada
IJV has spent the last year gathering research about the repression faced by academics, students and Palestine solidarity activists, collecting approximately 80 testimonies describing the resulting “chilling effect” in Canada. This report is the first of its kind anywhere in the world, utilizing ethnographic methodology and qualitative analysis to describe both the overarching effects of this repression as well as the deeply personal impact it has on activists, artists, students and professors. While focused on Canada, it also holds international ramifications as many of the processes we describe are present in other countries.
Read more (external link)
Freedom of Expression / Right to Boycott
• Transnational Legal Theory, 3-4 (2019), Michiel Bot, The right to boycott: BDS, law, and politics in a global context, pp. 421-445
• Palestinian Human Rights Organizations Council (PHROC): “Right to BDS” Statement
• Journal of Palestine Studies, 49-2 (2020), Ben White, Delegitimizing Solidarity: Israel Smears Palestine Advocacy as Anti-Semitic, pp. 65–79
• Article Harward Law Review, 1360, Wielding Antidiscrimination Law to Suppress the Movement for Palestinian Rights, 10 February 2020
Defunding and Deplatforming
• Charity & Security Network Issue Brief, Financial Services Deplatforming Hurts Aid, Peacebuilding
Business and Human Rights
• Business and Human Rights Journal, 4 (2019), Marya Farah, Maha Abdallah, Security, Business and Human Rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, pp. 7–31
• Business and Human Rights Journal, 3 (2018), Valentina Azarova, Business and Human Rights in Occupied Territory: The UN Database of Business Active in Israel’s Settlements, pp. 187–209