IslamNews – A US judge has dismissed a lawsuit that aimed to link a Washington-based Palestinian rights advocacy group to “international terrorism”, in a decision that activists hailed as a victory for free speech.
In a ruling released on Monday, federal judge Richard Leon rejected a claim that the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights (USCPR) is liable for militant attacks against Israelis because of its support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement and Gaza’s Great March of Return.
The lawsuit was led by the Israeli government-aligned Jewish National Fund and group of US citizens living in Israel.
They argued that the USPCR aided and abetted acts of “international terrorism” by supporting the Great March of Return and the BDS National Committee (BNC). The plaintiffs sought a jury trial demanding compensation under the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA), a US law that allows victims of terrorism to sue accomplices in militant attacks for damages.
Leon tossed the lawsuit, rebuffing the attempt to equate support for BDS with material support for Hamas, which is designated as a terrorist organisation by Washington.
He also said the plaintiffs failed to establish a direct link between the US-based group’s activities and actual attacks against Americans.
“While the plaintiffs make broad allegations that the US campaign provided financial assistance to Hamas, they fail to plead factual allegations sufficient to support these claims. The more specific factual allegations involving the BNC and other groups are simply too removed from a terrorist act or organization to state a claim under the ATA,” the judge wrote in his ruling.
“Plaintiffs’ argument to the contrary are, to say the least, not convincing.”
USPCR executive director Ahmad Abuznaid lauded the ruling. He said the lawsuit reflected Israeli efforts to collectively punish Palestinians for their activism, even those living abroad.
“This reinforces that not only is justice on our side, but also affirms our constitutional rights and ability to continue to fight for the freedom of the Palestinian people,” Abuznaid told MEE.
The Great March of Return started in 2018 as a peaceful protest campaign along the fence separating the Gaza Strip from Israel.
It demanded an end to the blockade on the Palestinian territory and emphasised the right of return for Palestinian refugees who were displaced from their homes in what is today Israel. Gaza is home to 1.9 million Palestinians who are mostly refugees.
Israeli forces killed more than 200 Palestinians, including medics and journalists, during the Great March, which lasted for more than a year.