Significant Victory against BDS in Spain

A joint effort by the ILF and ACOM secures an important precedent for Spain, Europe and the overall struggle against boycott and discrimination.

In December of 2015, ACOM, a Spanish organization, approached the ILF requesting assistance in building a case against Santiago, a Spanish city which adopted BDS as the city’s official policy. The legal arguments against this decision included claims based on Spanish law, EU law, precedents from other EU countries, EU-Israel trade agreements and statements made by EU officials denouncing BDS.

These arguments formulated together with ACOM’s leading attorney, Ignacio Wenley Palacios and ILF’s attorneys, were then used in similar lawsuits against other cities, including the city of Aviles.

On February 22, the Aviles city municipality informed the Spanish court that it is nullifying their resolution and thereby accepting the arguments presented in our case. The municipality explained that after consulting with its legal department it came to the conclusion that BDS policy is illegal, as it threatens people’s right not to be discriminated against, threatens academic freedom, and runs counter to Spain’s law on public contracts and E.U. directives on equal opportunities. Moreover they argued that BDS also holds the risk of incitement to violence against those effected by the boycott. Those, they add, include every individual, Jew or non- Jew, who does not declare his solidarity with the political agendas of the campaign.

Attorney Yifa Segal, Director of the ILF Added “this type of cooperation constitute one of the main objectives of the ILF, whose job, among others, is to assist attorneys from across the world in their local arenas by creating a vast legal strategy with a global perspective. Bringing together domestic legal expertise with international ones is the most efficient way to defeat global challenges.

The international cooperation between the ILF and ACOM resulted in an important success, which will be a strong precedent in similar cases throughout Europe, as well as deterrence to future cities from adopting BDS.

Click here to read the article published in Yediot Aharonot about this decision.

ILF Research on Labeling Guideline Leads to New Legislation and Possible Inquiry in Congress

On January 23, 2016 the U.S customs and Border Protection Department issued a statement instructing that products imported from the Israeli controlled areas in the West Bank not be labeled “made in Israel”. The State Department claimed that it was simply reissuing a 20 year old guideline which will from now on be enforced, contrary to policy and practice enacted until then. However, is that an accurate portrayal of the reality? According to an extensive legal research by the International Legal forum (ILF), the answer is no.

This guideline was originally published by the U.S Customs and Border Protection, at the recommendation of the State Department on April 6, 1995. According to the guideline, in the wake of the signing of the Oslo Accords and the creation of the Palestinian Authority, it was agreed that the PA would be responsible for regulating its affairs in these issues. Therefore, in order to accurately reflect the authority under which the products were produced, they should be marked as made in the “West Bank” and not “Israel” as was the practice until such time.

Moreover, just a few days prior, on March 27, 1995, a more detailed and explicit guideline was issued. Article 2 of this guideline states that it “applies only to goods produced in the areas for which arrangements are being established for Palestinian interim self-government”, namely – only products imported from areas under the PA control, meaning products imported from areas under Israeli control are not included.

Article 4 makes the American intentions even clearer, specifying that “Jurisdiction of the [Palestinian] Council will cover West Bank and Gaza strip territory except for issues that will be negotiated in the permanent status negotiations: Jerusalem, settlements, and Israelis”. I.E., in order to avoid any doubt, the article explicitly excluded Israeli controlled areas, using similar language to that used in the Oslo Accords.

The ILF presented this information to representatives of the Israeli Minister of Justice, Ayelet Shaked, and together with Zionists of America (ZOA), also to members of congress, including Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz.

Pursuant to the sharing of this new information legislation properly regulating this issue was submitted in Congress. Members of congress also began exploring the possibility of holding a hearing for the State Department and Secretary of State John Kerry, regarding this information and its possible meaning for misleading Congress and both the American and Israeli public.

Click here to watch the interview with Yifa Segal, ILF Director, on Yisrael Hayom.

Click here to read an article on this issue posted in Times of Israel.

Call to Condemn Victim Blaming by German Officials

After German officials suggested that attacks against women can be prevented if women adhere to certain “codes of conduct” and not “provoke” attackers by walking near them, the ILF sent a letter to Chancellor Merkel. The letter demanded that the German Government unequivocally condemn these statements, and reiterate uncompromising support for the rights of all people, including women, to their civil right.

Statements endorsing policies which violate basic democratic values and freedoms, justification of crime and  victim blaming cannot be tolerated from government officials.

Click here to read the letter

Walla News: Incitement to Violence in East Jerusalem Schools

An Israeli border police officer holds his weapon as Palestinians school children walk by in the East Jerusalem area, after clashes with Palestinian youths against Israel’s renovation works near the disputed Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem’s Old City, Monday, Feb. 12, 2007. Jerusalem’s Jewish mayor has ordered a review of construction work near a holy site at the center of the Arab-Israeli conflict, a City Hall spokesman said Monday, an attempt to quell days of Muslim protests and condemnations from throughout the Arab world. (AP Phoito/Oded Balilty)

ILF investigation into the content of the Palestinian Authority text books, used in the vast majority of East Jerusalem schools, revealed that despite the fact that these books need to be approved by the Israeli Education Ministry, the textbooks contained incitement to violence, glorification of martyrdom and jihad, and denial of Israel’s right to exist in any borders.

The ILF contacted the Ministry of Education, who said that they are investigating the matter.

Click here to read the Walla News article.