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Victory for San Francisco State Professor Over Pro-Israel Lawfare Suit

US Politics & Gov't  (tags: rabab abdulhadi, U.S.News/media coverage, bullying campaign, BDS, Lawfare Project, Liz Jackson, campus activism, oPT, harassment, Israel lobby, academic freedom, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, Palestine Legal, freedom of speech, San Francisco State University )

- 17 days ago -
On Monday, a federal judge in San Francisco finally dismissed a frivolous lawsuit against professor Rabab Abdulhadi and the university over her Palestine research and criticisms of Israel, which was filed as part of a years-long targeted bullying campaign


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fly bird (26)
Friday November 2, 2018, 10:05 pm
After three attempts at litigation, pro-Israel lawfare strategists have failed to silence a Palestinian American professor at San Francisco State University.

On Monday, a federal judge in San Francisco finally dismissed a frivolous lawsuit against professor Rabab Abdulhadi and the university over her Palestine research and criticisms of Israel, which was filed as part of a years-long targeted bullying campaign intended to censor and threaten professors and students who advocate for Palestinian rights.

Judge William Orrick III “this time dismissed the case with prejudice, meaning the lawsuit cannot be filed again,” said Palestine Legal on Tuesday.

The lawsuit, which was initially filed in June 2017 by the Lawfare Project – and then re-filed twice more after each attempt was dismissed – accused Abdulhadi and her employer of fostering a hostile environment for Jewish students which they claimed was due to the growing support for Palestinian rights on campus.

The Lawfare Project is a group that has described itself as “the legal arm of the pro-Israel community.”

The plaintiffs accused San Francisco State University of violating Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, using a legal strategy that claims that universities fail to protect Jewish students by not cracking down on Palestine solidarity activism.

That strategy was pioneered by Kenneth Marcus, a far-right Israel advocate who was confirmed earlier this year as the director of the Office for Civil Rights at the US Department of Education.

This means he is now in charge of investigating alleged violations of the civil rights law.

However, in his decision on Monday, Orrick noted that the plaintiffs “have had ample opportunities to attempt to state their Title VI claims but have not been able to do so.”

The judge indicated in August that he was inclined to dismiss the suit during a final court hearing, but had not delivered his decision until this week.

“It’s a significant defeat for both lawfare as a legal bullying strategy and the Lawfare Project as an organization,” Palestine Legal’s Liz Jackson told The Electronic Intifada on Wednesday.

The Lawfare Project “had three different legal complaints and a team of corporate lawyers but they had no facts indicating there was discrimination,” Jackson added.

“This is a victory for academic freedom and for the right to teach, research and advocate for justice in/for Palestine, as part of justice for all. Our movement is vindicated today,” Abdulhadi wrote on Facebook.

“We made it crystal clear that our commitment to justice in/for Palestine is unambiguously opposed to all forms of racism and racial discrimination including white supremacy and xenophobia, anti-Arab racism, anti-Blackness and anti-Semitism,” she added.

“Unfounded and malicious”

The suit was initially dismissed by Orrick in November 2017, but he allowed the plaintiffs to amend and resubmit their case.

The Lawfare Project refiled a version of the suit, but the federal court again threw out all of the claims in March, noting that the complaint was “far too long, repetitive and full of barely relevant material.”

Undeterred, the Lawfare Project refiled the suit once more. But it is now permanently closed and the organization cannot refile again.

“The unfounded and malicious nature of this bogus suit against Dr. Abdulhadi is now clear for all to see,” explained Mark Kleiman, Abdulhadi’s attorney.

“This has disrupted nearly two years of her life and her work for justice in Palestine, which is the purpose of ‘lawfare,’” he noted.

The lesson students and scholars can learn from this legal victory, Jackson said, “is that Israel’s defenders may harass you with frivolous litigation, but they will not succeed in silencing you because the facts are that advocacy for justice and equality is protected.”

“Avowed mission”

The Lawfare Project has “an avowed mission of inflicting massive punishments against critics of Israel and sought to block research and speech supporting Palestinian rights” at San Francisco State, Palestine Legal has stated.

In 2016, The Lawfare Project’s director, Brooke Goldstein, was filmed asking Israel lobby leaders in New York, “Why are we using the word Palestinian?”

“There’s no such thing as a Palestinian person,” Goldstein asserted.

The initial 73-page complaint listed about a dozen incidents, some dating back to the early 1990s – before many of the university’s current students would have been born – in an attempt to paint a picture of systematic discrimination.

The complaint invoked the so-called US State Department definition of anti-Semitism, which conflates criticism of Israel and its Zionist state ideology with anti-Jewish bigotry.

A principal incident in the complaint concerns a “Know your rights” fair in February 2017. Muslim, Arab and Latino campus groups organized the event in response to US President Donald Trump’s slate of executive orders targeting immigrants, refugees and Muslims.

Hillel, an on-campus Israel advocacy organization, claimed Palestine solidarity groups discriminated against Jewish groups by not inviting them to participate. After a lengthy investigation, San Francisco State University cleared the fair’s organizers of religious discrimination, but found them responsible for retaliation and viewpoint discrimination.

The lawsuit also alleged that students who disrupted a 2016 event featuring Nir Barkat, the far-right Israeli mayor of Jerusalem, made “antagonizing and threatening” remarks leading to an atmosphere of “fear and intimidation faced by Jewish students on campus” after the event.

Students representing an array of communities on campus protested Barkat because of his record of rampant Palestinian home demolitions, collective punishments and support of Israeli settler groups.

Hillel, which hosted the Barkat event, “broadcast false allegations that protesters were anti-Semitic and physically threatening towards Jewish students,” according to Palestine Legal.

Those accusations resulted in “widespread smearing and cyberbullying” of student protesters, “including death and rape threats,” the civil rights group said.

An independent legal investigation determined that Hillel’s allegations were unfounded.

Exploiting the Pittsburgh massacre

Meanwhile, in the wake of the massacre of 11 Jewish worshippers at a synagogue in Pittsburgh last weekend, activists and civil rights protectors are worried that Israel advocates may exploit the murders to push harder for a pending federal bill that seeks to blame supporters of Palestinian rights, especially campus campaigners of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement, for anti-Semitism.

“In response, we all have to continue to insist – as professor Abdulhadi puts it – on the indivisibility of justice. None of us are safe or free unless all of us safe and free. The threat is not campus human rights activists, but white supremacists,” Palestine Legal’s Jackson told The Electronic Intifada.

Lawmakers must be urged to reject the federal legislation “as an unconstitutional and irrelevant response” to white nationalist violence, she added.

“The most important way to prepare for escalated government attacks on our right to criticize Israel’s apartheid policies is to continue criticizing Israeli policy.”

fly bird (26)
Friday November 2, 2018, 11:33 pm
For Israel, All Carrots and No Sticks.

Special Report

By Mohamed Mohamed

FROM PRESIDENTS TRUMAN TO TRUMP, U.S. administrations have never actually been an “honest broker” of peace between Palestinians and Israelis, regardless of all the rhetoric and official positions. On the contrary, the U.S. has provided tremendous diplomatic, economic and military support to Israel ever since its creation in 1948.

Actions speak louder than words, and even former negotiator Aaron David Miller admitted himself that American officials have acted as Israel’s attorney at the expense of successful peace negotiations.

And despite the American pre-Trump position on Jerusalem (that Israeli settlements in Jerusalem are illegal, and that the city’s status should be decided in final status negotiations between Palestinians and Israelis), Israel has always been rewarded with generous military and financial aid even though it continues to violate international law.

Such rewards include a record 10-year, $38 billion deal under President Obama, despite Israel’s continued expansion of settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. In a speech to AIPAC in 2008, Obama even said that “Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided.” Ironically, President Trump’s official recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital has simply made the U.S. position more consistent with its actions (or inactions).

Again, no matter how much Israel represses the rights of Palestinians and violates international law, it is still guaranteed to receive many bunches of American carrots. For example, a graphic from USAID shows the 2016 amount of U.S. foreign aid given to Israel ($3.1 billion) and is depicted relative to other countries. It only takes an instant to notice that Israel’s aid circle is one of the largest on the map. In fact, it is the third largest, with only Iraq ($5.2 billion) and Afghanistan ($5 billion) ahead.

American taxpayers should seriously ask why their government gives away so much of their hard-earned money every year to a state like Israel. Putting aside the ethics of supporting such a discriminatory state that is occupying and oppressing millions of people, it makes little economic sense.

According to USAID’s classification, Israel is a “high income” country. In fact, its Gross National Income (GNI) per capita of $37,270 is more than three times the minimum amount needed to be classified as a high-income country. On the other hand, Iraq has a GNI of $4,770 per capita, and Afghanistan only $570. Israel also does not hesitate to highlight its position as one of the top 25 richest countries in the world, and it is quick to brag about how innovative and technologically advanced it is.

Many Americans probably know that France is an advanced and wealthy country, and with a GNI almost the same as Israel’s ($37,970), it seems reasonable that France would receive only $104,483 of U.S. aid in 2016. There is simply no reason to give away massive amounts of U.S. taxpayer money to a state that has the capability to pay for its own activities, especially when such activities are hostile.

So why are Americans giving almost $4 billion each year to a prosperous state such as Israel? Why has the U.S. handed Israel more than $134 billion dollars since 1948? Why is most of this in the form of military assistance? Why have Americans provided an additional $705 million to Israel to finance its missile defense program? Why was it the first foreign country to receive the latest F-35 fighter jets, which were “paid” for with the same U.S. military aid that it receives? Why did Israel have the first-ever free trade agreement with the U.S., which makes Israeli exports duty free? Why does the U.S. not hesitate to provide so much money to Israel, despite a massive budget deficit, while it cuts funds to major programs such as food assistance? If it is so developed and wealthy, why does Israel need so much American money? These are obviously reasonable questions.

Meanwhile, the U.S. has decided to punish Palestinians by cutting hundreds of millions of dollars in aid projects, including $25 million to assist East Jerusalem hospitals. This does not include the hundreds of millions of dollars that have already been withheld from UNRWA, which is the U.N. agency that provides food, education, healthcare and other basic services to Palestinian refugees in need.

It is mind-boggling that the Trump administration has vindictively and inhumanely targeted Palestinians, who are the weaker and oppressed side, while Israel continues to be rewarded despite its illegal military occupation and human rights violations against Palestinians. No matter what Israel does, the U.S. gives it nothing but carrots, while the Palestinians get all the sticks.

According to a 2014 study, more than 1.2 million U.S. military veterans lacked health insurance coverage. Democrats and Republicans are both willing to block Veterans Affairs funding, citing budget concerns and other excuses, yet they show almost no hesitation in approving massive “aid”—or more accurately, gifts—to Israel. When it comes to Israel, divisive politics disappear.

Also in 2014, the city of Flint, Michigan saw the beginning of a major crisis when it was discovered that there was significant lead contamination in its water supply. Only months ago, the water was finally declared safe to drink again (although many residents remain skeptical). In 2016, Michigan’s governor asked President Obama to declare a major disaster in Flint, estimating that it would cost $55 million to replace the lead pipes. Obama declined to declare a disaster, and he authorized just $5 million in aid. Yet at the end of the year before his departure, the president did not hesitate to authorize $3.8 billion per year in military aid to Israel for the next 10 years. This is in fact as ridiculous as it sounds.

The domestic crises mentioned above are just two examples of issues that require severe government attention and funding. From poverty to poor infrastructure, there are many problems that need to be solved in the U.S. Americans must ask their government why their money is so swiftly handed to the wealthy, apartheid state of Israel, when there is so much work to be done at home. The average person may not be aware of the extent of aid to Israel, but if given a choice, it is unlikely that many would choose to assist an aggressive foreign military over their fellow Americans.

fly bird (26)
Saturday November 3, 2018, 9:29 am
TAKE ACTION: This is an urgent and time-sensitive situation. Please sign and share widely!

Demand the Immediate Release of Prominent Palestinian Author Susan Abulhawa from Israeli Detention!

This is an urgent and time-sensitive situation. Please sign and share widely among your networks to ensure Susan's immediate and unconditional release from Israeli detention!

Susan Abulhawa, the Palestinian novelist, has been denied entry at Tel Aviv Airport on her way to the Kalimat Palestinian Literature Festival sponsored in part by the British Council. Despite the help of a lawyer from the British Council, the US Embassy and the festival organizers who have been on hand to assist, she was been detained by border forces upon her arrival.

She is one of the most commercially successful Arab authors of all time. Abulhawa’s 2010 debut novel Mornings in Jenin, a multigenerational family epic spanning five countries and more than sixty years, looks unflinchingly at the Palestinian question – and became an international bestseller translated into twenty-eight languages. Susan was also a juror among a panel of internationally recognized human rights activists at the recent International People's Tribunal on US Colonial Crimes in Puerto Rico.

At this point, Susan is in detention awaiting a judicial decision regarding her appeal to allow her entry. Festival organizers and the British Council have stated that her participation is a cornerstone of the festival and very much needed.

We demand the immediate release of Susan Abulhawa and a guarantee that she will be able to travel and participate in the Kalimat Palestinian Literature Festival without any further incident. As a prominent Palestinian author, she deserves to be allowed to attend the Kalimat Palestinian Literature Festival in her birthright county.

Below is the contact info for the US Embassy of Israel to ask that she be allowed entry to participate. (

In addition to signing this petition, please contact these US officials to demand they assist in assuring Abulhawa's speedy release and permission to travel to the festival.

Ron Dermer, Israeli Ambassador to the United States


David Friedman, US Ambassdor to Israel

Sen. Robert Casey, PA


Sen. Patrick Toomey, PA


Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick


To: Ron Dermer, Israeli Ambassador to US; David Friedman, US Ambassador to Israel; Sen. Robert Casey, PA; Sen. Patrick Toomey, PA; Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, PA;
From: [Your Name]

We demand the immediate release of Susan Abulhawa and a guarantee that she will be able to travel and participate in the Kalimat Palestinian Literature Festival without any further incident. As a prominent Palestinian author, she deserves to be allowed to attend the Kalimat Palestinian Literature Festival in her birthright county.

fly bird (26)
Monday November 5, 2018, 10:52 pm
WATCH THE FILM THE Israel lobby didn't want you to see.

The Lobby - USA, episode 1-2.

The Electronic Intifada has obtained a complete copy of The Lobby – USA, a four-part undercover investigation by Al Jazeera into Israel’s covert influence campaign in the United States.
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