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Revived lawsuit puts Palestine advocacy in crosshairs

<<< Earlier issue of this journal ^ This issue of this journal (2 other articles) Later issue of this journal >>>

Article/book #: 365539
Title: Revived lawsuit puts Palestine advocacy in crosshairs
By: Charlotte Silver  
Published in: Electronic Intifada
Date of issue: Monday, 10 July 2017
Topic(s) addressed: People/entities mentioned in this item:


»The case of a youth killed more than two decades ago – whose death prompted a tide of anti-terrorism litigation in the US – has returned to court. In 1996, 17-year-old David Boim was standing at a bus stop in the Israeli settlement Beit El, near Ramallah in the occupied West Bank, when he was shot dead in a drive-by attack. Eleven years earlier, David’s parents, Stanley and Joyce Boim, had moved to Jerusalem from New York. The whole family maintained dual American-Israeli citizenship.
In 2000, the Boims became the first US citizens to use federal anti-terrorism laws to accuse Islamic charities in the US of being fronts for a designated terrorist group (in this case, Hamas) in order to hold the organizations liable for the murder of their son. Their civil lawsuit, which resulted in a $156 million award in damages in 2004, also helped the government bankrupt several of the country’s Islamic charities, including the largest such organization at the time, the Holy Land Foundation, and criminally prosecute its leaders.
Now the Boims are suing American Muslims for Palestine, a national advocacy group, and the affiliated Americans for Justice in Palestine Educational Foundation, arguing they are reincarnations of the defunct charities. The Boims’ first lawsuit stretched over eight years and was full of holes that have yet to be filled. Their new lawsuit, filed last month in Chicago, suggests their goal is not to hinder terrorism, but to criminalize Palestine advocacy groups.«

»In the eight years between the start and end of the Boims’ case, the US “War on Terror” turned the courts into a front line in the fight against terrorism by supposedly attacking its revenue streams in the US. “The practical effect of the Boim decision was to open American courtrooms to an entirely new class of litigants by explicitly recognizing a cause of action under the [Anti-Terrorism Act] for ‘aiding and abetting’ terrorism, even in cases where the defendant had no specific knowledge of the actual terrorist activity,” attorney Shipman explained in the North Carolina Law Review. In the decade after the Boim case, several lawsuits were filed. Many were related to Palestine, targeting the Arab Bank, the Palestinian Authority and the Palestine Liberation Organization for alleged acts of terrorism committed by people or groups loosely affiliated with them. Palestine, however, was not the only issue being litigated under the various anti-terrorism laws passed in the 1990s. The decade of litigation culminated in 2010, when the Obama administration took the Humanitarian Law Project, an organization dedicated to peacefully resolving conflicts, to the Supreme Court. Then-Attorney General Eric Holder argued it was illegal for a group to advise a designated terrorist organization – in this case the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in Turkey – on how to reject violence and pursue its goals through lawful means.«

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