U.S. court tosses Israel Lobby lawsuit against U.S. scholars


A U.S. court’s ruling sends a clear message to Israel organizations intent on suppressing advocacy for Palestinian rights IMAGE/Alejandro Alvarez/SIPA USA

A court in Washington, D.C., has entirely dismissed a lawsuit against the American Studies Association over its support of an academic boycott of Israel.

The lawsuit, which was filed in 2016 by Israel advocates, has now failed three separate times in court – a significant defeat for the Israel lobby’s attempt to punish scholars who back Palestinian rights.

“The court found that the claims primarily arose from advocacy on an issue of public interest and were not likely to succeed,” stated the Center for Constitutional Rights.

In a 2013 referendum, members of the American Studies Association overwhelmingly endorsed an academic boycott of Israel.

The vote followed an endorsement of the boycott by the association’s governing body.

Declaring the boycott an ethical stance, the ASA said that it “represents a principle of solidarity with scholars and students deprived of their academic freedom and an aspiration to enlarge that freedom for all, including Palestinians.”

Israel advocates within the association, however, jumped into action to persecute colleagues who dared to criticize Israel.

Using a tactic known as lawfare, in which Israel lobby groups use legal means to harass and silence supporters of Palestinian rights, the plaintiffs claimed that the boycott resolution was brought by “insurgents” within the association who attempted to “subvert and change the ASA’s purpose” into a political advocacy organization.

The plaintiffs alleged that a “cabal” of leaders from the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USACBI) surreptitiously took over the ASA and used their positions on its executive committee and national council to foist the boycott resolution on the association’s unsuspecting membership, misspending ASA money in the process.

A federal court threw out a key claim in the lawsuit in 2017, ruling that the ASA’s endorsement of the boycott was not contrary to the association’s charter.

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