Earlier this month, the Lawfare Project, a not-for-profit organization described as dedicated to raising awareness about the abuse of the law and legal systems, held an event at the New York Lawyers Association. The project’s goals state: to facilitate a response to the perversion and misapplication of human rights law, mobilize resources and bring interested parties together in a common forum.
Max Blumenthal, award-winning journalist, was there, and reports back in his recent article, “Inside the Lawfare Project: Netanyahu’s Attack on Human Rights NGO’s Hits the States.” Our own Michael Ratner and the Center for Constitutional Rights was also a target, Blumenthal writes. The Center for Constitutional Rights was singled out because its director, Michael Ratner, went on the recent Gaza Freedom March with Code Pink. None of the factual documentation these groups released was challenged by the NGO Monitor report or in Herzberg’s presentation. Instead, the groups and their leadership are being targeted with a scattershot of accusations that recall McCarthyism in its crudest form.
- This conference was convened at the New York Lawyers Association, with the Dean of the Columbia University Law School presiding over it.
- Politicians, neo-conservative think tank heads, and Israeli high officials, convening basically to bash the Goldstone Report which they consider to be the zenith of lawfare against Israel.
- To bash the human rights groups that contributed data to the Goldstone Report.
- Law fare: Using law as a means to conduct foreign policy. Past manifestations of lawfare, used by British to legitimatize laws to break up their colonies.
- Law fare Project, singled out human rights groups such as the Center for Constitutional Rights and Michael Ratner
- Israel is going further and further outside of the scope of international law. Instead of Israel having to deny charges of war crimes in a public forum they attack Judge Goldstone.
- PR firms associated with the Lawfare Project: 5W PR, which used to represent Birthright Israel. The firm is run by Ronn Torossian, who has been involved with settler attacks on Palestinians.
- They’re being funded by the law firm of Pat Robertson, The American Center for Law and Justice.
- This is I think really an effort of public diplomacy by the Israeli government funded by right wing Jewish and Christian Zionists interests.
- NGO Monitor headed by Gerald Steinberg, who is notorious in helping to de-fund, and de-legitimatize all Israel human rights groups. Israel had its first human rights march this year.
- Human rights group members in Israel, have their homes graffit’d with “price tag”, settler slang for you’ll be assassinated.
- In addition, you Michael Ratner were singled out as a traitor to the United States of America, openly and you’re in this NGO Monitor blacklist. Put together by NGO Monitor legal advisor, Ann Herzberg, you are accused of NGO lawfare. You and Human Rights Watch.
- We heard David Matas who is a Canadian lawyer, says this is equivalent to anti-Semitic gangs beating up Jews in the street. Because International law is the legacy of the holocaust, it should always side with Israel.
- Michael Ratner: Israel wants an exemption. I’ve gone after human rights violaters in nearly every country in the world. We do a little bit of work on human rights violations in Gaza and the West Bank and all of a sudden I’m an enemy of United States, I’m anti-Semitic.
- They’re seeking emotional and subtle ethnic justification for their defense without debating the Goldstone Report.
- I think it puts Jews in danger, when they claim the Gaza assault which killed more than 700 civilians is somehow a reflection of the Jewish ethos.
- The image of it is intended to intimidate those who want to speak out, especially in the Jewish community but haven’t done so yet. We sound hopeful on this show, but this is a time for deep, deep concern.
- People are wondering, where’s the Palestinian Gandhi? My father was a White House advisor, my mother worked in the White House, my father worked in the Washington press corps. Israel is in the grip of a mass psychosis.
- In the youth of Israel, we’re seeing a trend in favoring apartheid.
Guest – Max Blumenthal, award-winning journalist and bestselling author whose articles and video documentaries have appeared in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, The Daily Beast, The Nation, Huffington Post, Salon.com, Al Jazeera English and many other publications. He is a writing fellow for the Nation Institute. His book, Republican Gomorrah: Inside the Movement That Shattered the Party, is a New York Times and Los Angeles Times bestseller.
Last week the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission found that the Department of Education discriminated against interim principal Debbie Almontaser in 2007 when they forced her to resign from Khalil Gibran International Academy. The school was envisioned to provide knowledge and understanding of Arab language and culture and controversy arose before its doors opened. As we covered in November of 2007, Almontaser was forced to resign after she was quoted explaining in the New York Post that the word “intifada” literally means “shaking off” in Arabic. This was in reference to a controversy stirring over a t-shirt that read “Intifada NYC” created and worn by a group called Arab Women Active in the Arts and Media. Almontaser came under criticism by the community for not denouncing it. The EEOC ruling calls on the Department of Education to reach a “just resolution” as well as meet Almontaser’s demand, of a reinstatement, back pay, damages and legal costs. Communities In Support of KGIA
Alan Levine / Mona Eldahry:
- DOE had capitulated to mob pressure, to community prejudice, when the firestorm erupted after the New York Post article, August 2007.
- DOE, instead of quelling the fire, days went by and the fire grew. Debbie Almontaser’s qualifications were questioned, she was told if she didn’t resign the school would be closed.
- Debbie was out of Central Casting for the position, she couldn’t have been more perfect for it. The DOE knew about that record, that’s why they selected Debbie as principal for Khalil Gibran International Academy.
- The EEOC found that because the DOE capitulated, they became the discriminator.
- Mona: The t-shirts in question had nothing to do with Debbie, but somehow she was associated with them. The DOE required Debbie to do this interview with the New York Post, not with the Times.
- The Post misquoted and misrepresented her as the EEOC found.
- Alan: The DOE had succumbed to the kind of prejudice that the Khalil Gibran International Academy was intended to dispel.
- The claim is based on that Debbie Almontaser was attacked by a bigoted community based on being an American Muslim and a government agency to its great shame capitulated to that prejudice.
- Certainly the DOE could have expected a strong reaction from the Arab-American community.
- Alan: The DOE investigation is accessible to us, what people said in this investigation will be part of the record in this case (federal). The EEOC is the premier agency in the country for evaluating employment discrimination claims.
Guests – attorney Alan Levine and Mona Eldahry, co-founder of Arab Women Active In the Arts.