Israel lawfare group plans “massive punishments” for activists

“Why are we using the word Palestinian? There’s no such thing as a Palestinian person,” Brooke Goldstein declared to enthusiastic applause at a meeting of key Israel lobby operatives in New York earlier this month.

Goldstein is the director of the Lawfare Project, a legal group that aims, in her words, to “make the enemy pay” – that “enemy” being mainly comprised of Palestine solidarity activists and students.

The Lawfare Project was founded with the support of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, an important forum for anti-Palestinian organizing in the US.

The clip of Goldstein denying outright the existence of Palestinians can be seen above.

At the event, she and other Israel lobby leaders revealed their latest strategies to try to defeat the growing boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.

A 58-minute edited video of the event was originally published on YouTube by the Jewish Broadcasting Service on 16 June, but was hidden a day after the journalist Ben White and other supporters of Palestinian rights began to circulate it on social media, drawing attention to Goldstein’s negation of Palestinian existence.

The Electronic Intifada is republishing the whole video under the Fair Use doctrine of the US Copyright Act:

In her presentation, Goldstein acknowledged that efforts to promote Israel as a democracy with “great beaches” had failed to stem the support for Palestinian rights, so “we have to focus on the offense, on Islamists and how they violate the basic civil rights that liberals hold very, very dear.”

Efforts to exploit and promote Islamophobia as a way to build support for Israel are not new, but the New York meeting heralded a renewed push in that direction.

Following the advice of pro-Israel pollster Frank Luntz to appropriate leftist and human rights language, Goldstein said the anti-Muslim message would appeal to the sensibilities of liberal and progressive college students.

She argued that pro-Israel advocates had to speak about the BDS movement “in the terminology that Millennials will understand, which is the civil rights terminology.”

“[Students] want to be against apartheid? Let’s give them what to be against,” she said, “Let’s give them [sic] to be against Islamist gender, race and religious apartheid that is occurring in every single Muslim-majority country on the planet.”

As its contribution, Goldstein explained that her organization would be launching what she called “Islamist Apartheid Week” on campuses across the US, an apparent effort to counter Israeli Apartheid Week.

And while Goldstein markets herself as a “human rights attorney,” she proudly touts her friendship with Geert Wilders, the anti-Muslim Dutch politician who has been funded by a key player in the US Islamophobia industry.

Wilders’ anti-Muslim agenda is so extreme it has even been condemned by the Anti-Defamation League, a major pro-Israel group.

“Cancer”

Goldstein was speaking at an event on 2 June titled “BDS: The new anti-Semitism?

Organized by the World Zionist Organization, the American Zionist Movement and the UJA-Federation of New York, it was addressed by Israel’s ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon.

It came just days after Israel’s major anti-BDS conference held at UN headquarters.

Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice-president of the Conference of Presidents, told the meeting that the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement was like a deadly disease.

“We let this cancer metastasize until now on campuses across the United States,” Hoenlein said.

He claimed that the BDS movement for Palestinian freedom, justice and equality was indistinguishable from the persecutions Jews had faced throughout history.

“This started when the Romans changed the name of Judea to Philistia,” Hoenlein asserted in a bizarre appeal to ancient history and myth, “that was the beginning of BDS.”

But he was clear that the purpose of the New York gathering was to create a movement “that uses all of our resources, all of our energies” in order to “put an end to this threat.”

Hoenlein said that pro-Israel activists need to reach youth who “communicate in 140 letters,” an apparent reference to the social media site Twitter.

Overlooking the fact that this is the most diverse and integrated generation of American college students ever, Hoenlein went on to insult the intelligence of the very youth he wants Israel to connect with. “This is an ignorant generation, a superficial generation,” Hoenlein said.

Attacking students

The Lawfare Project’s Brooke Goldstein also indicated that her legal group was preparing another Title VI challenge against US universities, naming San Francisco State University and the University of California, Irvine, as likely targets.

In recent years, pro-Israel groups lodged complaints against several universities under Title VI of the US Civil Rights Act, alleging that administrators were failing to protect Jewish students from a hostile environment created by Palestine solidarity activists.

But these complaints were thrown out by investigators from the US Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights.

Goldstein’s revelation casts the latest attacks by pro-Israel groups on Palestine solidarity activists at UC Irvine and San Francisco State University in a new light.

Goldstein said her group was encouraging Jewish students on those campuses to file police complaints against Palestine solidarity activists, “so we can pressure the [district attorney] to bring criminal charges against those students, just like was done with Michael Oren’s speech.”

She was referring to the Irvine 11 case, in which 10 students faced criminal charges for protesting a 2010 speech at UC Irvine by Oren when he was the Israeli ambassador to the US.

These cases would also presumably be used as the pretext for the Title VI complaints.

Goldstein also used the New York gathering to argue that contrary to the unanimous opinion of the international community, Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank are not illegal and that the EU was violating international law by requiring that products manufactured in Israeli settlements have accurate labels indicating their origin.

In warlike language, Israeli ambassador Danon told the gathering that their efforts to suppress support for Palestinian rights had the full support of the Israeli state.

“We will stand against our enemies. We will stand against the people who are going to boycott Israel, and we will win,” Danon said.

The violent and dehumanizing language was echoed by Yuval Abrams, a student and activist against the Palestine solidarity movement at the CUNY Graduate Center of the City University of New York.

“We need to raise the stakes for those who engage in this sort of behavior, let them know their nose is going to bleed,” Abrams, who identified himself as a former Israeli soldier, said in reference to fellow students who had advocated for a boycott of Israeli institutions complicit in military occupation and violations of Palestinian rights.

While speakers asserted several times that advocates should share positive messages about Israel and Zionism, Goldstein was frank that only repression of protest and BDS would shore up Israel’s eroding base of support.

“The goal is to make the enemy pay,” Goldstein said, “and to send a message, a deterrent message, that similar actions such as those that they engage in will result in massive punishments.”

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I'm still going to 1) identify myself as a Proud Jew For Palestine 2) follow the lead of Palestinian society and not purchase the products that result in humans suffering and 3) sign my name as a college student who is part of a conscious body of other students
using critical thinking and reasoning, when it comes to understanding the rights of humans.

A few younger students who just graduated and part of s.j.p. had their names posted on ridiculous websites, so they could not find employment. This, in my humble opinion, is exactly how the Nazis behaved.

Brooke Goldstein and the rest of her like-minded friends, who think it's ok to drop phosphorus and cut off drinking water, are close to Philadelphia Pa. I would love to have coffee and discuss the horrors of the beautiful beaches, which are segregated from the ghetto like conditions of Gaza.

Brooke - If your following this, we were brainwashed as North American, Jewish kids into believing that we need a spare country and that "the arabs" hate us because we are Jewish. It's all a lie.

To the contemporary Zionist - The U.S. uses us for a military outpost in the Middle East. THESE ARE OUR FELLOW HUMAN BEINGS - treat them accordingly. God is watching and you need to stand on the right side of history.

Jane Zacher student, activist and Proud
Jew For Palestine, period !
Philadelphia Pa U.S.A.

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Michael. Your name reminds me of the brilliant man, who has the guts in Hollywood, to challenge the status quo of silence. I really like Michael Moore's work, and looking forward to more.

Peace everyone and please, if you care about our fellow human beings suffering, but are worried about losing your jobs or careers, because the fascists have turned the U.S. into a militarized state, remember Fred Hampton, Dr. King and Malcolm X. They knew they would be targets, just like me. I can't get a job, but have other means and would rather be poor, than stand by as Palestinian people die under the boot of imperialism.

FROM THE RIVER TO THE SEA, PALESTINE WILL BE FREE !

Jane Zacher student and activist
Philadelphia Pa U.S.A

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Yes, never said better Ms. Zacker. Thank you for your light in the darkness.

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Shalom aleichem, excellent post. May palestine be free!

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Jane, Thanks for your honesty and work in promoting justice for the PALESTINIANS. I am truly dumbfounded that supposedly 'intelligent' people can deny the existence of these people even though there is abundant evidence that they have been on that land for millennia. Who was it after all in the photos and films from 1948 being driven off the land by armed soldiers? Do they think they are fooling anyone but themselves?

That said, I am so thankful that many of the younger generation Jews, along with some of the older ones, are seeing through the lies that somehow allow these massive crimes against humanity to unbelievably continue into the 21st century. I trust you know of Miko Peled, but if not, he is well worth a listen. Peace

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You are beautiful, and a real Jew... God bless you, and as for Brooke, she needs to get a life (or at least. a soul). And thanks for a great article, Ali. Oy...

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I am not alone anymore - Jews and Non-Jews, our fellow human beings suffer in Palestine and across the globe. Like the amazing Dr. West, said, let's get on the love train. Our love for the Palestinian people will prevail and motivate us.

Brooke- THEY ARE HUMANS AND HAVE A HUMAN RIGHT TO EXIST.

Thanks again Ali :)

Strength and Love from Philadelphia Pa U.S.A
Jane Zacher student and activist

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Good for you. That is great for a Jewish student to say. Perhaps you can start the group to refute and promote Palestinian interests. Good job

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If the Light is ever to flourish on this beleaguered Planet, ALL GOOD people must come together and UNITE AS ONE for a real SYSTEM change:

http://pledge.onehumanityonelo...

Jane, we would love to hear from you, and /or others like this wonderful Human being. Please contact us at the above site. If the next generation of Human beings are to survive and carry the future, we must immediately change our direction NOW on this beautiful, God-given, life-inhabited Planet.

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Julie. My friends from the middle East, who are students or citizens of the U.S. are afraid of ending up in Gutomino Bay, so I open my "crazy" mouth and always identify as a United States Jewish Person for Palestine. Although secular, it is important to stand with other Jewish people who are angry that out religion was hijacked by Zionists, in the name of resources and murder.

But enough about me. For the last 68 years, the narrative has centered on us. PALESTINIAN PEOPLE HAVE A RIGHT, AND I MEAN HUMAN RIGHT, TO EXIST, PERIOD !

Personally, I do not believe in a two-state solution, because the Palestinian people have lived in that land for generations. They have a beautiful culture, that was partially destroyed, as a result of the ongoing Nakba. I always think of "Still I Rise". I know it's not realistic, but Palestine should be their own entity, with their own government. If I want to visit the sites that are important to me, then it should be under their control.

I might not have power in Washington D.C. or enough money to stop your suffering, but send love to you Palestine from Philly, Pa.

Thanks Ali, for this publication - without it, I would be lost.

Jane Zacher student and activist
Philadelphia Pa U.S.A

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They've a bit more to worry about than students !! Havnt they realised that the housewives of the world are boycotting ??!! They can't stop us, they can't control what we put in our shopping carts !! Lol

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Jane,
A perfect response. Thank you. Are some Jews incapable of seeing how the Palestinians are treated in Gaza and the West Bank? Are there blinders over their eyes? Are their minds sealed shut? It's a brutal occupation. Ask any Zionist if s/he could live as a Palestinian in Gaza or the West Bank. They will look at you blankly. They turn off their imagination completely. Their propaganda is in a few memorized quips, all of which are wrong.

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There is one opponent whom the Zionists have overlooked, and ignored....
We, MORAL JEWS who fought the Fascists in Europe, and will fight
the Fascists in Palestine.
The greatest enemy and foe of the Fascist, racist, genocidal Police State of Israel...
is truth. Truth about the evils of Zionism.
The truth that Zionism is NOT Judaism.
No more than Christianity is the KKK.

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But what else is new? That ideology is poison at best.

The only good thing about these people-- and very poor excuses for people they are-- is that they show, through their rhetoric and the steaming heaps of bile they vomit out, who the real problem in the way of peace with the Palestinians and the Lebanese is.

Israel, and pro-Israel "activists" and lobbyists. I've literally never seen one who isn't a pathetic liar or a frothing-at-the-mouth anti-Palestinian conspiracy theorist.

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Dear Sister Jane,

As a Palestinian victim of Zionist ethnic cleansing, let me point out that the Palestinian people love and embrace our righteous Jewish activist brothers and sisters like you and we find your solidarity with us as indispensable to our common struggle for trust, justice and total liberation leading to the establishment of a democratic, secular Palestine for all of us to live in with dignity, equality, justice and honor. For Jewish people like you, you will always have a home and its name is Palestine.

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Some national councils of major U.S. Protestant denominations have joined movements for solidarity with the people of Palestine, such as BDS. There needs to be alert for contrived provocations by incidents from radical Zionists to disparage those Christian denominations in the media !!!

Ali Abunimah

Ali Abunimah's picture

Co-founder of The Electronic Intifada and author of The Battle for Justice in Palestine, now out from Haymarket Books.

Also wrote One Country: A Bold-Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse. Opinions are mine alone.