Friday, March 25, 2011

Fighting Lawfare Legally

Here is the letter:

Dear Chancellor Wu:

On March 25 and March 26, 2011, University of California Hastings College of the Law is officially co-sponsoring and funding a conference entitled "Litigating Palestine: Can Courts Secure Palestinian Rights." The conference is listed on Hastings' official website, and you, in fact, are opening the conference by welcoming the participants.

It is, of course, completely within the purview of Hastings College of the Law to examine lawfare as it pertains to the Israeli-Arab conflict. However, the authorized description of this event makes it clear that conference participants will be advocating for one side of the conflict, the Arab side, and seeking to exploit Western courts in order to agitate against Jews and the Jewish state through anti-Israel lawfare.(*) This is not only a misuse of the name and resources of the University of California for political and partisan purposes, it is also ethically and morally reprehensible.

Moreover, we believe that this event fits within the Working Definition of Anti-Semitism issued by the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC), endorsed by the U.S. State Department in its Reports on Global Anti-Semitism, and used as well by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights in its examination of campus anti-Semitism. As the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights has observed, "Anti-Semitic bigotry is no less morally deplorable when camouflaged as anti-Israelism or anti-Zionism."

The EUMC Working Definition identifies the following practices as anti-Semitic and distinguishes them from acceptable forms of criticism of a sovereign nation's policies:

-     Denying the Jewish people the right to self-determination
-     Applying double standards by requiring of Israel behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.

The Trans-Arab Research Institute, which is the sponsoring organization, has stated that part of its mission is the elimination of the Jewish state. Several of its board members are affiliated with the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign and serve as some of its leaders. In addition, more than half of the speakers at the event are also affiliated with the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaigns, and at least one talk will be devoted to finding legal strategies for defending these campaigns.

This leaves no doubt that the conference was organized for the purpose of harming the Jewish State. Your law school has provided funding and is therefore complicit in this effort.

The heads of sixty Jewish organizations -- including the Anti-Defamation League, the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations, Bnai Brith, Hillel, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, the Reform, Conservative, and Orthodox movements, both Democratic and Republican supporters, as well as organizations from Mexico, Australia, Belgium and the United Kingdom -- have recently signed a statement identifying Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Campaigns against Israel as "part of a greater effort to undermine the Jewish people's right to self-determination in their homeland, Israel." They condemn such campaigns and assert that its "proponents have provoked deep divisions among students and have created an atmosphere of intolerance and hatred." We are copying this letter to the heads of many of those organizations.

Finally, we believe that this event may be in violation of Title VI of the 1964 Civil Right Act. As you probably know, there has been a recent change in the interpretation of Title VI by the Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights. Now, under Federal law, anti-Semitic animus on campus is comparable to other forms of bias and must be aggressively combated by the university administration. The Office of Civil Rights has already opened two investigations of possible Title VI violations at the University of California. One of the complaints, submitted by one of us, argues that university funded/sponsored events that are virulently anti-Israel have created a hostile environment for Jewish students at the University of California Santa Cruz, in violation of federal law.

For the reasons we have outlined above, we urge you to publicly announce that you are withdrawing all Hastings College of the Law funding and sponsorship of this event, as well as your own participation in it.


Leila Beckwith
Professor Emeritus, University of California at Los Angeles

Tammi Rossman-Benjamin
Lecturer, University of California at Santa Cruz

CC: Hastings College of the Law Board of Directors
Governor Jerry Brown
Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom
State Senate President Pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg
Assembly Speaker John A. Perez
Assembly Speaker Pro Tempore Fiona Ma
Heads of the following organizations, who are signatory to a statement condemning Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaigns against Israel:
Aish HaTorah
Alpha Epsilon Pi Fraternity
American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise (AICE)
The American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC)
American Jewish Committee (AJC)
Anti-Defamation League (ADL)
Association of Reform Zionists of America (ARZA)
B'nai B'rith International
The Board of Deputies of British Jews
Boycott Watch
Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations
The Fellowship for Campus Safety and Integrity
Hagshama – The Department for Diaspora Activities of the World Zionist
Hasbara Fellowships
Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life
The International Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists
Israel on Campus Coalition (ICC)
The Israel Project (TIP)
Conrad Giles, Rabbi Steve Gutow
Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA)
The Jewish Federations of North America
Jewish National Fund (JNF)
Jewish People Policy Institute (JPPI)
Masa Israel Journey
National Conference on Soviet Jewry (NCSJ)
National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC)
Orthodox Union (OU)
Rabbinical Assembly
Republican Jewish Committee (RJC)
Simon Weisenthal Center
Union for Reform Judaism (URJ)
United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism
United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism and campus division KOACH
Women's League for Conservative Judaism
World Jewish Congress, North America
Zionist Organization of America (ZOA)

Friday March 25
3:00 Welcome by Dean Frank Wu, UC Hastings College of the Law
Introduction by Professor George Bisharat, UC Hastings College of the Law
3:15 – Panel I – Palestinian claimants and defendants before U.S. Courts
 Professor Gwynne Skinner, Willamette University Law School, “The Nonjusticiability of the Middle East:
U.S. Human Rights Litigation and the Misuse of the Political Question Doctrine”
 Noura Erakat, Adjunct Professor, Center for Contemporary Arab Studies, Georgetown University,
“Palestinians in US Federal Courts: Constructing a ‘Terrorist’ Prototype”
 Linda Moreno, Esq., “Political Prosecutions in America: Prosecuting Other People's 'Terrorists’”
5:15-5:30 – Break
5:30-6:15 – Keynote Address
 Professor Jules Lobel, University of Pittsburgh Law School, “Success Without Victory: The Politics of
Palestinian Litigation”
Saturday March 26
8:45 – Panel II – Courts in Israel/Palestine
 Jamil Dakwar, Esq., ACLU – New York, “Hollow Justice: Litigating Palestinian Equality In Israeli Courts”
 Nimer Sultany, SJD Candidate, Harvard Law School, "The Master's House and the Master's Tools:
Occupation and the High Court"
 Diana Buttu, Esq., "Fitting a Square Peg Into a Round Hole: The Use of Palestinian Courts to Secure
Palestinian Rights"
10:45-11:00 – Break
11:00-1:00 – Panel III – Other National Courts and the International System
 Emily Schaeffer, Esq., Law Offices of Michael Sfard, "Litigating Bil'in in Canada: Victories and Obstacles
in the Face of an ‘Inconvenient’ Forum"
 Daniel Machover, Esq., Hickman and Rose, “Delegitimising the Rule of Law – The Israeli Campaign
Against Universal Jurisdiction”
 Victor Kattan, Lecturer in Law, SOAS, "Litigating ‘Palestine’ before International Courts: The
Prospects of Success and Perils of Failure"
 Lisa Hajjar, University of California, Santa Barbara, Discussant
1:30-2:30 On Campus Lunch
2:45- Panel IV – Beyond Litigation
 Yasmine Gado, Esq., "The Russell Tribunal on Palestine: London Session on Corporate Complicity in
Israel's Violations of International Law"
 Matthew Ross, Esq. and Elizabeth Jackson, “Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions: Defending the BDS
Movement from Legal Challenges”
 Samera Esmeir, Professor of Rhetoric, UC Berkeley, “International Strategies of Rule and Liberation
Struggles: Between Revolution and War”
4:45-5:00 Closing Remarks by Professor George Bisharat, UC Hastings College of the Law

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