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ELSC Newsletter: November

Dear friend,
 
This month we share with you important updates on challenging Israel’s attack on Palestinian civil society and the repression of Palestinian rights advocacy in Europe including in the Netherlands and the UK, a webinar, op-eds, and other news and resources.  
 
On the 29th of November, which marked the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, we shared our solidarity statement reaffirming the need to stand and defend Palestinian rights (advocates) every day.

ELSC NEWS

We released a new leaflet addressing 10 situations in which our team can defend the right to advocate for Palestinian rights as to empower advocates and help them to challenge repression through legal avenues.

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UPDATES FROM THE UK

The ELSC has recently intervened at an event on Combatting the Chilling Effect on Academic Freedom and Palestine advocacy on UK campuses organised by the UCU (University and College Union) inWarwick University and open to staff and students.

On-campus repression of Palestinian rights advocacy continues in the UK, as LSE students were heavily smeared for protesting against the participation of the Israeli ambassador in the UK Tzipi Hotovely in a debate on Middle East Peace. We have stood in firm support to the LSE students who have the full right to protest against apartheid regimes and their representatives, and we have urged the university to ensure the provision of a safe space for dissenting opinions.

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Such illegitimate repression is met with resilient efforts to amplify Palestinian rights advocacy. Queens Mary Students have voted to revoke the adoption of the IHRA definition of antisemitism, as to reclaim the unprotected rights of students and academics to advocate for Palestinian rights on-campus.

On the same topic, Larissa Kennedy – the President of the National Union of Students in the UK – signed an op-ed titled “After BLM, Palestine solidarity is the litmus test for UK campus freedom of expression” where she asserts the rights of the student movement to protest and continue the struggle for justice and liberation.

CHALLENGING REPRESSION OF PALESTINIAN RIGHTS ADVOCACY

An investigation released by +972 and The Intercept showed that the “evidence” claimed by the Israeli government to designate six Palestinian prominent human rights organisations as “terrorist” was flawed. Despite that, the responses from EU States and institutions to the unfounded designation remained relatively weak. Therefore, we joined more than 100 organisations, human rights groups, unions, and parties to call upon the EU to take strong actions against this serious attack on Palestinian civil society.

Read the letter

With our partners Al Haq, PAX, SOMO and the Rights Forum, we held a webinar on challenging the repression of Palestinian rights advocacy in Palestine as well as the attempts to silence advocates in the Netherlands. The webinar featured Wesam Ahmad from Al Haq, who focused on the implications of the designation and the expected actions from third state parties including the Netherlands. Giovanni Fassina (ELSC) and Lydia De Leeuw (SOMO) also addressed the responsibilities of the Dutch government in protecting civic space for Palestinian rights advocates in the Netherlands.

UPDATES FROM THE NETHERLANDS

Our op-ed “How Palestine advocacy is silenced in the Netherlands” has been published by Middle East Eye. The ELSC’s Director, Giovanni Fassina, covers the main findings of our report on “The Attempt to Chill Palestinian Rights Advocacy in the Netherlands”, which reveals a pattern of deliberate attempts by Israel-advocacy groups and other actors to intimidate, smear and silence those who legitimately stand up and advocate for Palestinian rights.

Read the full report

The outspoken academics Karin Arts and Jeff Handmaker also published their op-ed “The Netherlands must speak out against Israel’s attack on Palestinian organisations” urging the Dutch government and the European Union to stand up for the Palestinian NGOs under an illegitimate attack deliberately aimed at silencing voices for Palestinian freedom and human rights.

In further response to Israel’s attack on the six NGOs, directors of Palestinian NGOs were in the Netherlands to meet with Dutch officials. Read this article for an analysis by Shawan Jabarin, the director of Al Haq, who reiterated that they won’t be intimidated by such an attack.

RESOURCES & NEWS FROM AROUND EUROPE AND PALESTINE

In a recent report, Front Line Defenders reveals that six Palestinian human rights defenders, including three members of the groundlessly designated organisations, got hacked with NSO Group’s Pegasus Spyware. The hackings were confirmed just before the designation. Front Line Defenders asserts that counter-terrorism legislation must never be instrumentalised to repress legitimate human rights.

In response, a joint letter signed by a number of international CSOs and independent experts including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International has urged the EU to adopt targeted sanctions against NSO Group.

Additionally, Apple is suing NSO Group to hold it accountable for the abuse of state-sponsored spyware, surveillance and targeting of Apple users.

Importantly, on the 12th of November, the OECD UK National Contact Point found UK company JCB in breach of its human rights obligations due to the use of its products to illegally demolish Palestinian homes. Read the analysis of Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights on the case.

A few days later, Amnesty UK issued a new report exposing the responsibilities of JCB in war crimes being committed in the occupied Palestinian Territories.


If you have faced repression for Palestinian rights advocacy whether at university, work, or during a protest in a public space or online, make sure to fill out our incident report form. This information enables us to track how Palestinian advocacy is attacked and silenced, helping us to better defend activists in times of need and push back against shrinking civic space.

REPORT AN INCIDENT

You can join our movement to ensure that defenders of Palestinian rights receive free legal advice and support by making a one time or monthly donation to the ELSC. Any donation would empower our fight for Palestinian rights in Europe. If it is not possible to make a donation at this time, you could follow us on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter, share our posts and spread the word about repression of civic spaces for advocates of Palestinian rights.

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