Category Archives: Press Releases

Rocket Attacks On Israel

U.S. Department of State

U.S. Department of State

The United States strongly condemns the ongoing barrage of rocket attacks by Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad from Gaza upon innocent civilians and their communities across Israel. We call on those responsible for the violence to cease this aggression immediately. We stand with Israel and fully support its right to self-defense against these abhorrent attacks.

As noted in the State Department Travel Advisory, U.S. citizens should exercise caution and remain alert to emergency situations.

Hearing Takes Place At European Court Of Justice In Landmark Case Against Discriminatory Labeling Of Israeli Products

The Lawfare Project

The Lawfare Project

A hearing took place yesterday at the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in a landmark case against the discriminatory labeling of Israeli products. The case was referred to the ECJ by the French Conseil d’État. It was brought by Psâgot Winery Ltd, an Israeli wine producer and exporter, together with The Lawfare Project, a U.S.-based think tank and litigation fund that files cases against anti-Semitic discrimination around the world.

Psâgot and The Lawfare Project, represented by French Supreme Court law firm Cabinet Briard, challenged an opinion published by the French Minister of Economics and Finance in November 2016. The Minister’s opinion stated that products from the Golan Heights or West Bank have to be labeled as coming from Israeli settlements (“colonies Israéliennes”) or equivalent terms.

At yesterday’s hearing, counsel for Psâgot—François-Henri Briard, Supreme Court Attorney of France—strongly argued that the insistence on applying the label of “colonies Israéliennes” goes beyond the law. The law was not designed for such political labeling but to provide fair and clear information for consumers. Polling carried out last year among French consumers revealed that they had very little interest in the politicized labeling of products.

Furthermore, argued Briard, applying the law in such a way would open a “Pandora’s Box,” requiring extremely complex labeling for products from over 100 different territories around the world where there are territorial disputes.

The three-hour hearing was presided over by President of the European Court, Koen Lenaerts, who also heard from representatives of Sweden, Ireland, and France. These three countries’ governments argued strongly in favor of discriminatory labeling, falsely implying that Israel does not exercise authority over these territories in the context of trade.

The ECJ Advocate General will publish his opinion on June 14, 2019. A decision from the Court is expected a few weeks after that, which would interpret EU law on the issue for all EU member states, including France, which referred the case. As a result, the Court’s decision will have landmark implications across the EU regarding the discriminatory labeling of Israeli products.

Brooke Goldstein, Executive Director of The Lawfare Project, said:

Of the hundreds of territorial disputes around the world, it is Israeli businesses alone that find themselves targeted by these unnecessary and politicized labeling requirements. The importance of the Court’s decision shouldn’t be overstated: it will either end this double standard against Israel or legitimize it across Europe. I hope the Court grasps this opportunity to end the double standard.

François-Henri Briard, attorney before the French Supreme Courts and counsel for Psâgot, said:

I am confident that the ECJ will be very careful to keep its interpretation of EU law within a legal framework, without making foreign policy. The purpose of the EU rules is to protect health for consumers and to provide fair information on food products; they have nothing to do with political geography. The attempts of the European Commission to justify the use of the word “colony,” using an argument based on social and ethical consumer information, goes beyond EU text and looks like an awkward legal framework; I do not think the ECJ will follow such poor and political argument.

About The Lawfare Project: Headquartered in New York, The Lawfare Project, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, is a legal think tank and litigation fund committed to protecting the civil and human rights of Jewish communities around the world. To learn more, please visit www.thelawfareproject.org.

California State University (CSU) Agrees To Landmark Settlement With The Lawfare Project And Winston & Strawn LLP To Safeguard Jewish Students’ Rights

University will acknowledge Zionism as an important part of Jewish identity and implement wide-ranging measures to protect Jewish students

The Lawfare Project

The Lawfare Project

The Lawfare Project and Winston & Strawn LLP today reached a landmark settlement in their lawsuits against the California State University (CSU) public university system.

The settlement in Volk v. Board of Trustees comes ahead of this month’s scheduled trial for a lawsuit brought by two Jewish students who allege that San Francisco State University (SFSU) and the Board of Trustees of CSU discriminated against them.

As part of the settlement, SFSU agreed to:

  • Public statement: Issue a statement affirming that
    “it understands that, for many Jews, Zionism is an important part of their identity”;
  • Coordinator of Jewish Student Life: “Hire a Coordinator of Jewish Student Life within the Division of Equity & Community Inclusion” and dedicate suitable office space for this position;
  • External review of policies: “Retain an independent, external consultant to assess SFSU’s procedures for enforcement of applicable CSU system-wide anti-discrimination policies and student code of conduct”;
  • Independent investigation of additional complaints: “SFSU will, for a period of 24 months, assign all complaints of religious discrimination under either E.O. 1096 or E.O. 1097 to an independent, outside investigator for investigation”;
  • Funding viewpoint diversity: “SFSU will allocate an additional $200,000 to support educational outreach efforts to promote viewpoint diversity (including but not limited to pro-Israel or Zionist viewpoints) and inclusion and equity on the basis of religious identity (including but not limited to Jewish religious identity)”; and
  • Campus mural: Engage in the SFSU process to allocate “space on the SFSU campus for a mural to be installed under the oversight of the Division of Equity & Community Inclusion, paid for by the University, that will be designed by student groups of differing viewpoints on the issues that are the subject of this litigation to be agreed by the parties (including but not limited to Jewish, pro-Israel, and/or Zionist student groups, should such student groups elect to participate in the process).”
“California State University’s public recognition that Zionism is an integral part of Jewish identity represents a major victory for Jewish students at SFSU and across the country. Today, we have ensured that SFSU will put in place important protections for Jewish and Zionist students to prevent continued discrimination. We are confident that this will change the campus climate for the better,” said Brooke Goldstein, Executive Director of The Lawfare Project. “The Lawfare Project was proud to play a role in securing justice for Jewish and Zionist students at SFSU. We commend the student plaintiffs who showed the courage to stand up and advocate for their civil rights.”

“We are incredibly happy with this result,” said Ross M. Kramer of Winston & Strawn LLP. “Our clients’ goal was to bring about meaningful, lasting change at San Francisco State University and throughout the California State University system, and to make sure that the rights of all Jewish students are safeguarded now and into the future. That’s what this settlement achieves.”

About The Lawfare Project: Headquartered in New York, The Lawfare Project, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, is a legal think tank and litigation fund committed to protecting the civil and human rights of Jewish communities around the world. To learn more, please visit www.thelawfareproject.org.

About Winston & Strawn LLP: For more than 160 years, Winston & Strawn LLP has served as a trusted adviser and advocate for clients across virtually every industry. In that time, through careful growth and thoughtful fiscal management, we have built a law practice with tremendous breadth and a global reach. We are proud of the many accolades we have received over the years—a tribute to our lawyers’ creativity, flexibility, depth of experience, and commitment. The most meaningful accolade to us, though, is the continued trust and confidence of our clients. To learn more, please visit www.winston.com.

Secretary Pompeo’s Travel To Beirut, Jerusalem, And Kuwait City

U.S. Department of State

U.S. Department of State

Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo will travel to Beirut, Jerusalem, and Kuwait City March 19-23.

In Beirut, the Secretary will meet with Lebanese leaders to discuss the political, security, economic, and humanitarian challenges facing Lebanon. The Secretary’s visit will underscore U.S. support for the Lebanese people and Lebanon’s legitimate state institutions.

In Jerusalem, the Secretary will meet with Israeli officials to engage on critical regional issues, including countering the Iranian regime’s malign influence and reaffirming the United States’ unwavering commitment to Israel’s security. The Secretary will also discuss the Administration’s dedication to monitoring and combatting anti-Semitism. While in Jerusalem, the Secretary will also participate in a meeting with Israeli, Cypriot, and Greek leaders to discuss key energy and security issues facing the Eastern Mediterranean region.

In Kuwait City, the Secretary will lead the U.S. delegation at the third U.S.-Kuwait Strategic Dialogue. The dialogue will focus on many areas of growing U.S.-Kuwait bilateral cooperation, including defense, counterterrorism, cybersecurity, strengthening trade and investment ties, and education. The Secretary will also meet with Kuwaiti leaders to discuss important regional issues, such as Yemen and Syria, as well as progress on the Middle East Strategic Alliance and the need for GCC unity in order to confront the region’s challenges and advance prosperity, security, and stability.

Leading Lawyers Submit Evidence To ICC, Questioning Its Jurisdiction In Israeli Settlements Cases

The Lawfare Project

The Lawfare Project

Top lawyers specializing in cases before the International Criminal Court (ICC) have filed a submission questioning the admissibility of cases regarding Israeli settlements. Steven Kay QC and Joshua Kern of 9 Bedford Row chambers in London made the submission with support from The Lawfare Project and UK Lawyers for Israel (UKLFI). An article regarding the submission is available here.

The submission emphasizes that the Israeli Supreme Court (sitting as the High Court of Justice) plays an active role ruling on matters relating to Israeli settlements. Because Israel’s own courts already rule on the issue and have issued several landmark rulings on settlements in the past, such cases are not admissible before the ICC. That is because—according to the core principle of “complementarity” under the Rome Statute, which governs the ICC—the ICC is not supposed to rule on issues where there are genuine proceedings before national courts.

The submission by 9 Bedford Row, with support from The Lawfare Project and UKLFI, comes after the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) of the ICC published its annual report on preliminary examinations in December 2018. The report discloses that the OTP intends to complete its examination of “the Situation in Palestine” as early possible and is now at “Phase 3”, which is the stage in the process when it considers the admissibility of the situation. At this point, therefore, the OTP needs to consider both the gravity and the complementarity of the situation.

Should the OTP decide to prosecute an Israeli settlements case, it could violate the complementarity principle.

Stephen Kay QC of 9 Bedford Row, who filed the submission, said:

“Israel has a functioning, independent, institutional framework which permits investigation of conduct that would be covered by potential settlements cases at the ICC. Under the core ICC principle of complementarity, prosecutors should accept the validity of decisions taken by Israel’s national courts. If they are not prepared to do that, then the burden of proof will be on them to say why.”

Brooke Goldstein, Executive Director of The Lawfare Project, which supported the submission, said:

“An ICC case on ‘settlements’ would totally ignore the fact that Israel’s courts have frequently ruled and continue to rule on these issues. It would be yet another attempt at applying double standards to Israel. Double standards inspire a lack of trust in the international legal system and undermine the sanctity of international law. The Lawfare Project is proud to support this fresh legal approach to challenging lawfare attempts at circumventing the rule of law.”

Jonathan Turner, Chief Executive of UK Lawyers for Israel, said:

“This excellent submission unpicks a number of basic fallacies in claims made by some NGOs in relation to Israel. Further work needs to be done to counter other serious misconceptions.”

A more detailed explanation of the points below.

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