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Press Releases
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Lawfare Project cited in complaint challenging ASA's tax-exempt status
Wednesday, January 08, 2014
Lawyers challenge tax-exempt status of American Studies Association (ASA) in response to discriminatory academic boycott, cite The Lawfare Project in whistleblower complaint
 
In response to last month's vote by the American Studies Association (ASA) to endorse a boycott of Israeli academic institutions, several lawyers led by William A. Jacobson, Clinical Professor of Law and Director of the Securities Law Clinic at Cornell University Law School, have filed with the Internal Revenue Service a whistleblower complaint challenging the ASA's 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status. The complaint asserts that the academic boycott is not in furtherance of the ASA's exempt purpose and violates public policy.
 
According to Legal Insurrection, a blog authored by Jacobson, "The reaction to the ASA's boycott has been overwhelmingly negative. At least 125 universities and leading academic institutions have spoken out against the boycott and issued strong statements as to the damage to higher education such boycotts inflict." 
 
In March 2013, Breitbart published a groundbreaking article by The Lawfare Project on the applicability of New York State anti-discrimination law in the context of discriminatory Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) activity targeting Israeli persons and entities.
 
The Lawfare Project was asked to provide research on state lawdemonstrating the widespread public policy against discrimination on the basis of national origin and religion. The LP's research is cited on pages 33 and 34 of the complaint. In addition to potentially violating various state anti-discrimination laws, academic and economic boycotts of Israel, as well as other activities of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, are part and parcel of a lawfare campaign to mischaracterize Israel as an "apartheid" state that violates Palestinian human rights. However, the disproportionate focus on Israel and failure of BDS proponents to acknowledge the grave human rights violations perpetrated against Palestinians by their own governments, and by nations such as Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria, betray the anti-Israel and anti-Semitic ideals that fuel the movement.
The introduction to the complaint explains why the ASA is no longer entitled to tax-exempt status:
 
ASA's academic boycott is not consistent with its educational exempt purpose. ASA's academic boycott is anti-educational, seeking to sever the free exchange of ideas and interactions among scholars and institutions so critical to higher education. ASA's academic boycott is deemed such a threat to academic freedom and the educational process that major non-partisan organizations representing virtually every higher educational institution and almost 50,000 university professors have denounced the academic boycott. Over 100 individual university presidents have done the same, and the number is growing.
These denunciations have been without regard to where one stands on the Middle East dispute, and are grounded in the threat academic boycotts present to education, not Middle East politics. ASA's exempt purpose would be violated even if ASA took the other side of the political issue, and boycotted Arab universities and scholars.
 
. . .
This particular ASA academic boycott is even worse, because in addition to being anti-educational, it is based explicitly on national origin in violation of the public policy against such discrimination. In addition, the international boycott of which ASA now is a part traces its roots directly to the anti-Semitic Durban NGO conference in 2001 and the anti-Jewish sentiment of the Palestinian boycott movement.
In examining whether the ASA boycott is a proper exempt purpose, the Service cannot ignore the anti-Semitic context and roots of the boycott movement ASA has joined.
The ASA academic boycott also violates clear U.S. public policy, expressed in federal and state laws, against international boycotts singling out Israel.
We suggest that under relevant statutory, regulatory and case law authority, revocation is required.
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U.S. Congressmen Press Secretary of State John Kerry About UNRWA, Reference Lawfare Project Film
Tuesday, November 26, 2013
 
Last Wednesday, four members of Congress sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry requesting that the State Department provide detailed explanation as to how it monitors UNRWA's (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East) educational programs and ensures that U.S. funding of UNRWA complies with applicable federal law. Moreover, the letter specifically referenced the film Camp Jihad, co-produced by The Lawfare Project and the Center for Near East Policy Research, and pressed Secretary Kerry as to whether the State Department had conducted any independent investigation of UNRWA in response to the film.
 
As Shurat HaDin reported, U.S. Representatives Jim Gerlach, Charles W. Dent, Patrick Meehan, and Michael Fitzpatrick first wrote to Secretary Kerry on September 17, 2013 regarding recent news reports alleging that UNRWA is "using educational programs to promote violence, anti-Semitism, and religious extremism among Palestinian refugees . . . ." They requested that the State Department "take immediate action to increase oversight of U.S. economic aid to UNRWA," noting that the United States is the "largest single-state contributor" to the agency. The State Department's response - that it had investigated the allegations and found them unwarranted - was evidently unsatisfactory to the four dedicated congressmen.
 
Indeed, UNRWA's education system teaches a war curriculum to innocent Palestinian children, promoting suicidal-homicidal violence and effectively grooming these children for recruitment by terrorist organizations like Hamas. Despite these egregious human rights violations, the United States has contributed $244.5 million to UNRWA in 2013 alone, in breach of domestic and international law.
 
Footage from Camp Jihad showing a teacher at an UNRWA school indoctrinating students on "martyrdom" was played for Secretary Kerry by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during the former's November 2013 shuttle diplomacy trip to the Middle East.
 
The aforementioned letters from the congressman and the State Department can be read here.
 
 
The Lawfare Project's report on the troubling activities taking place at UNRWA's summer camp and schools, as well as potential legal implications of the United States' continued unbridled funding of UNRWA, can be read here: http://www.thelawfareproject.org/unrwas-violations-of-childrens-human-rights.html
 
Help us stop UNRWA's illegal incitement to violence!
Donate today so that we can raise awareness about this most egregious form of child abuse.
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Netanyahu plays LP film on UNRWA incitement for Kerry
Friday, November 22, 2013

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu plays footage from film, co-produced by The Lawfare Project, for U.S Secretary of State John Kerry depicting UNRWA's illegal indoctrination of Palestinian children

As reported by The Algemeiner and Israel's Walla News, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently played footage for U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry from the short film Camp Jihad, co-produced by The Lawfare Project and the Center for Near East Policy Research.

The footage shows a teacher at an UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East) school indoctrinating students on "martyrdom" and "echoing the claim that all of Israel belongs to the Arabs." It was reportedly presented to Secretary Kerry during his November 2013 shuttle diplomacy trip to the Middle East.

 The Lawfare Project's report on the troubling activities taking place at UNRWA's summer camp and schools, as well as potential legal implications of the United States' continued unbridled funding of UNRWA, can be read HERE

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: URGENT For lawyers & Legal Experts: Call Upon EU To Revoke Boycott Of Israel!
Friday, July 19, 2013

Dear Friends,

 The Lawfare Project urges all lawyers and legal experts to sign onto the following letter, which calls upon the EU to revoke its recent directive regarding Israeli settlements.

Composed by Ambassador Alan Baker, head of the International Division of the Legal Forum for Israel, the letter will be sent to Catherine Ashton, foreign affairs head of the EU, as well as to the foreign ministers of the 28 members of the EU.

For this letter to have maximal effect, it is vitally important to attach as many signatories as possible.

Please do not reply to this email.

In order to ensure that your signature is attached to the letter, please send your response to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it with your name, title, and contact information. If possible, please also forward the letter to colleagues and acquaintances and encourage them to sign.

 The letter will be sent in the coming days in view of the urgency of the issue.

[Letter begins below]

H.E. Catherine Ashton, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs

 Excellency

 Re: EU directive regarding Israeli settlements

We, the undersigned, attorneys from across the world who are involved in international law issues as well as being closely concerned with the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, respectfully call upon you and the EU to revoke the abovementioned directive which we feel is based on legally flawed and incorrect assumptions regarding both the legality of Israel's settlements and the status of the pre-1967 Armistice lines as Israel's border.

Furthermore, the reasoning behind the directive summarily ignores the historic and legal rights of Israel and the Jewish people in and to the areas of Judea and Samaria, including the internationally acknowledged rights of the Jewish people as the indigenous people of the area.


  • The long-held view of the EU as to the illegality of Israel's settlements is a misreading of the relevant provisions of international law, and specifically Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which is neither relevant to the unique circumstances of Israel's status in the area, nor was it ever applicable, or intended to apply to Israel's circumstances in Judea and Samaria.

  • The EU together with other international bodies has consistently ignored authoritative sources, including the 1958 official commentary by International Committee of the Red Cross, as well as the published opinions of prominent international jurists, all of which explain the provenance of Article 49 in the need to address deportations, forced migration, evacuation, displacement, and expulsion of over 40 million people by the Nazis during the Second World War. This has no relevance to Israel's settlements in Judea and Samaria.

  • The EU totally ignores the very agreement to which it is signatory as witness, the 1995 Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement, in which it was agreed by the parties, pending a permanent status agreement, to exercise powers and authority in the areas under their respective control. Such powers include planning, zoning and construction. The issues of settlements and Jerusalem, as agreed upon between the parties, are negotiating issues, and hence, determinations by the EU undermine the negotiating process and run against the EU's status as signatory.

  • The legality of Israel's presence in the area stems from the historic, indigenous and legal rights of the Jewish people to settle in the area, as granted in valid and binding international legal instruments recognized and accepted by the international community. These rights cannot be denied or placed in question. This includes the 1922 San Remo Declaration unanimously adopted by the League of Nations, affirming the establishment of a national home for the Jewish People in the historical area of the Land of Israel (including the areas of Judea and Samaria and Jerusalem) as well as close Jewish settlement throughout. This was subsequently affirmed internationally in the League of Nations Mandate Instrument, and accorded continued validity, up to the present day, by Article 80 of the UN Charter which reaffirmed the validity of the rights granted to all states or peoples, or already existing international instruments (including those adopted by the League of Nations).

  • The inference regarding Israel's borders as recognized by the EU is no less misguided and historically and legally wrong. The pre-1967 Armistice lines (so-called "green" line) were never considered to be borders. UN Security Council resolution 242 (1967), endorsed by the European members of the Council, called for "secure and recognized boundaries" to replace the pre-1967 Armistice lines.  The European leaders further endorsed this principle in their 1980 Venice Declaration. By its persistence in referring to the pre-1967 lines, the EU is undermining future negotiation on this issue by predetermining its outcome.

  • In a similar vein, the repeated use by the EU of the term "occupied Arab" or "Palestinian territories" to refer to the area of Judea and Samaria, has no basis in law or fact. The area has never been determined as such, and thus the continued EU usage of the term runs against the very concept of negotiations to resolve the dispute regarding these areas, supported by the EU, to determine their permanent status. 


Excellency,

The position taken by the EU and the action presently being taken pursuant to its directive, regarding Israel's settlements in Judea and Samaria, is, in our view, incompatible with the EU's standing as a member of the international Quartet, and serves to neutralize any pretentions it might have to serve a useful function in the negotiating process between Israel and the Palestinians.

Frankly, the EU cannot, in all sincerity, presume to come with clean hands and claim to be an impartial element in the negotiating process. The EU has taken sides and as such, in its actions against Israel, it is undermining the negotiating process.

The position and actions of the EU against Israel are all the more unfortunate and regrettable in light of the tragic Jewish history in Europe, which cannot be ignored or forgotten. One might have expected that realization of this factor would guide the wisdom and logic of the actions of the EU.

Signed by jurists and international lawyers

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Australian University Censors Speech Offensive to Islam, Threatens Students
Monday, June 03, 2013

June 3, 2013 - NEW YORK - Australian National University (ANU) administrators have given student board members and authors of the school's newspaper Woroni an ultimatum: retract a recently published infographic satirizing Islam or face disciplinary proceedings that could include expulsion. Not surprisingly, the students responded to the school's threat by removing the image from the Internet, having already published an apology to "any readers who felt victimised, while stressing that the piece was intended to be satirical."

The infographic was the fifth in a student-produced series that satirized aspects of different religions, preceded by installments on Catholicism, Scientology, Mormonism, and Judaism. Only the piece on Islam drew university censorship, following a complaint by the International Students Department. According to ANU vice-chancellor Ian Young, the Chancelry (administration) "felt [the piece] actually breached the rules of the university in terms of student conduct and . . . breached the rules of at least the Australian Press Council principles to which Woroni abides." Young denied that the censorship was an attack on freedom of speech and asserted that previous cartoons on other major religions were permissible because they did not attract formal complaints.

The implications of this are troubling: the Chancelry has effectively endorsed a policy of selectively restricting speech deemed offensive to Islam, and Islam alone.

The school's severe and punitive interference is unprecedented. Woroni editor Gus McCubbing opined, "The problem I had here was never before had the Chancelry taken such an active role in disciplining us and saying what we can and can't publish." The Chancelry's actions included twice summoning the student paper's board members to discuss the issue, individually threatening the board members and authors with disciplinary action, and informing them that Woroni's funding allocation could be compromised if the parody of Islam remained online.

ANU administrators further claimed that the piece threatened the school's reputation and security, stating: "[I]n a world of social media, [there is] potential for material such as the article in question to gain attention and traction in the broader world and potentially harm the interests of the University and the university community." They cited controversy surrounding the Danish Jyllands-Posten cartoon depicting Islam's prophet Mohammed and violent protests in Sydney against the film Innocence of Muslims.

"Free speech died last week at ANU, and the severity of the situation cannot be understated," commented Brooke Goldstein, human rights attorney and director of The Lawfare Project, a nonprofit legal think tank dedicated to monitoring global threats to freedom of speech. "When a university abuses its power to stifle and punish speech offensive to Muslims, singling out Islam for special treatment while allowing other religions to be lampooned, the school is effectively enforcing Sharia (Islamic law) blasphemy codes, which have no place in free society. The ANU Chancelry's policy is more akin to that of speech-repressive regimes like Saudi Arabia or China than that of a Western university, a traditionally important forum for open dialogue and debate. Particularly concerning is that the university's defense of its censorship rests on the false causation argument that violence is caused by satire. Indeed, the type of violence cited by the administrators was caused by an ideology that justifies violence based on militant religious doctrine. When will we stop excusing violent criminal conduct as an expected response to controversial speech?"

The recent incident at ANU is part of a growing pattern of speech suppression in the West stemming from fear of violent reprisal by Islamists. The fear of violence, coupled with the continued threat of lawfare lawsuits designed to silence and punish anything deemed blasphemous of Islam and its prophet Mohammad, has created a detrimental chilling effect on the inalienable human right to speak freely and openly about issues of public concern, including militant Islam. The ANU Chancelry's actions fall in line with principles pushed by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to make unlawful the use of media to criticize Islam.

Unfortunately, Australia's Constitution does not expressly protect freedom of speech or expression, a void ripe for lawfare. Unlike in the United States, where restrictions on speech can be challenged for violating the First Amendment, Australia's lack of free speech protection leaves speakers with little or no recourse when they are silenced (though the High Court in 1992 held that the nation's Constitution impliedly protects the narrowly defined category of speech concerning political issues).

For more information, please contact:

Brooke Goldstein -  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it  - (212) 922-1672

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