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CCR, PSLS, Say Lawsuit Threat Against Academic Association is Legal Bullying

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press@ccrjustice.org

January 10, 2014, New York - Yesterday, Shurat HaDin, an Israeli legal organization, threatened to sue the American Studies Association (ASA) for its December, 2013 endorsement of a resolution to boycott Israeli academic institutions in protest of Israel’s discrimination and human rights abuses against Palestinians.

The Center for Constitutional Rights and Palestine Solidarity Legal Support issued the following statement in response:
 
Shurat HaDin seeks in vain to punish speech that is fully protected by the First Amendment. The resolution to boycott Israeli academic institutions joins a proud history of political and human rights boycotts in the U.S., which have resisted race discrimination and human rights abuses in the U.S. and around the world, and which the United Sates Supreme Court has held are protected speech. The threat to sue the ASA cynically claims that the academic boycott resolution constitutes discrimination under U.S. law, and under the International Convention to End all Forms of Racial Discrimination – a Convention that Israel itself violates in its abuse of Palestinians. It is those violations of Palestinian rights that academic boycott protests. 
 
This threat is the latest in a pattern of legal bullying that has escalated in the U.S. as the movement for Palestinian rights has grown. An academic boycott in fact violates no anti-discrimination laws because it does not target any individual or institution based on their Jewish identity or Israeli citizenship. Rather, it is aimed at institutions with direct relationships to the Israeli government. Shurat HaDin’s attempt to paint this principled action as anti-Semitic and discriminatory against Israelis is not only legally bankrupt, but also trivializes important struggles against anti-Semitism and all other forms of racism.
 
For more information on the legality of academic boycott, please see the Palestinian Solidarity Legal Support’s frequently asked questions
 
Palestine Solidarity Legal Support (PSLS) engages in coordinated and strategic legal advocacy to protect and advance the constitutional rights of Palestinian human rights activists across the U.S.  PSLS is an initiative built in partnership with the Center for Constitutional Rights, and in collaboration with the National Lawyers Guild and other groups.  We aim to build the power of activists to withstand the concerted assault on free speech and continue advocating for Palestinian human rights. PSLS documented over 100 repression incident in 2013 alone, the majority of which targeted academic discussion or political activity on college campuses.

The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change.