Brilliant News!! Shurat HaDin, an Israeli based legal group has abandoned its failing case against Sydney academic, Jake Lynch. As I noted in my recent article published by Electronic Intifada, Shurat HaDin's legal case brought against Jake over his support for the Palestinian call for the boycott of Israel suffered a huge setback in April when Federal Court Magistrate, Justice Alan Robertson struck out huge sways of their complaint because they hadn’t established any facts pertinent to the case (ie. establishing that Jake had allegedly breached the Racial Discrimination Act). The case suffered a further set back, when in the wake of the sections being struck out, four of the original five complainants signaled their intention to withdraw. Earlier this week, Jake's lawyers moved to have the case dismissed arguing that there were no "natural person" left in the case, who were allegedly impacted by Jake's support for BDS. Shurat HaDin has now decided to abandon the case.
While Shurat HaDin has sought to spin their defeat, saying that Jake won on a technicality, anyone following the case knows that this is just that - spin. Shurat HaDin's case floundered from the very beginning, failing repeatedly to show that Jake had breached the Racial Discrimination Act.
As Jake has noted this is a very big victory for Palestine activists and the BDS campaign in Australia. It is also a victory for free speech and academic freedom.
I have included below, Jake Lynch's statement on the court victory, as well as The Guardian's article on Shurat HaDin's abandonment of the case.
For more information on the case, here are links to my recent Electronic Intifada article on the case, as well as my articles in Red Flag and Overland.
- Major setback for Israel- backed group's efforst to criminalise BDS in Australia (click here)
- BDS and Zionist lawfare in Australia: Palestine solidarity still under attack (click here)
- BDS and Lawfare in Australia: Shurat HaDin launch spurious case against Palestine activist (click here)
- BDS, Lawfare & Free speech: Growing support for BDS campaigners (click here)
- The Australian newspaper and BDS: A case study in obsession (click here)
JAKE LYNCH'S STATEMENT ON HIS LEGAL VICTORY:
Thursday July 10th, 2014
My lawyer and the lawyer for Shurat HaDin have agreed that the proceeding by Shurat HaDin be dismissed for lack of standing. And they have agreed for the court to make orders that Shurat HaDin pay my costs of the application for dismissal of the case, and my costs of the proceedings that are not otherwise subject to earlier cost orders.
Judge Alan Robertson will make the orders in the Federal Court in Sydney, on Wednesday July 16th at 9.30am.
This comprehensive legal victory represents complete vindication for the principled stance I have taken in fighting off a despicable attack on political freedom in Australia.
It gives the green light for many more Australians to take their own action in solidarity with the Palestinian struggle for rights and freedoms we are lucky enough to be able to take for granted.
Shurat HaDin is a foreign agency, with admitted past links with the Israeli state, which wanted to use the Australian courts to stifle the growing movement of worldwide political activism for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions.
The case began with the smear that BDS advocates are motivated by racism. That was accepted by many of Australia’s leading politicians, to their discredit, when they signed up to the so-called ‘London Declaration on Anti-Semitism’.
But the attempt to make it stick in court proved a bridge too far. Legal process requires evidence, and logical argument. Once exposed to that test, a claim that passed muster in the corridors of Canberra immediately began to crumble.
I have faced claims that I should be held responsible for decisions by performing artists, such as Elvis Costello and Snoop Dogg, not to tour Israel. There was never a shred of proof to back up any of these allegations.
On the narrower issue of the request I received from Professor Dan Avnon, to endorse his application for a Sir Zelman Cowen fellowship, Shurat HaDin managed to persuade neither Avnon himself, nor any other academic, to join their ill-conceived action.
This week’s violence
This week’s renewed wave of indiscriminate Israeli violence against Palestinian civilians shows the urgency of taking political action to promote peace with justice. Israel will not change its routine recourse to militarism and lawlessness without coming under pressure.
The disavowal by the Australian government of the international legal consensus on the occupation of Palestinian territory shows this pressure must come from civil society. That is the rationale for BDS, as a symbolic gesture of solidarity.
This legal victory for me, and thousands of supporters who have stood by me and contributed to my cause, represents both an opportunity and a challenge. Someone has to make a change. If not us, who? If not now, when?
The case has given rise to the creation of two important groups to take up this cause: Australians for BDS: http://australiansforbds.wordpress.com/
And within the University of Sydney, Sydney Staff for BDS: http://sydneystaff4bds.org/
I would like to thank my lawyer, Yves Hazan of Hazan Hollander, for the brilliance with which he conceptualised, developed and argued my case – and also for his patience and consideration in explaining legal principles in our discussions of the issues.
Thanks also to His Honour, Judge Alan Robertson, for the fairness and rigour with which he conducted these proceedings. The Australian public can be proud of its Federal Court.
Lawyers for Lynch said they and a Tel Aviv-based legal centre, Shurat HaDin, reached agreement on Wednesday that a racial discrimination lawsuit against the academic should be summarily dismissed for lack of standing. They said Shurat HaDin would pay most of Lynch’s costs.
Lynch said he welcomed the news that Shurat HaDin had “effectively thrown in the towel”.
“I feel relief, and also determination to now make the most of this, because it removes a possible excuse as to why people should shy away from BDS [boycott, divestments and sanctions] activism. We’ve successfully got the prospect of court action off people’s backs,” he said.
Shurat HaDin, whose mission is to “bankrupt terrorism one lawsuit at a time”, filed the lawsuit against Lynch in October, alleging that he had engaged in unlawful racial discrimination against Jewish people, businesses and organisations by refusing to endorse a fellowship application from a Hebrew University academic, Dan Avnon.
Lynch, who is an advocate of the BDS movement, refused Avnon’s request on the basis that Hebrew University has a campus in the occupied West Bank and had close links to the Israel Defence Force.
The case was billed as major test of the legality of the BDS movement, which seeks to pressure the Israeli government over its continuing occupation of Palestinian territories and advocate for a Palestinian right to return.
But Shurat HaDin suffered a major setback in April when a federal court judge, Alan Robertson, struck out key parts of its original statement of claim against Lynch, which sought to frame the case as a class action on behalf of all Israelis, and included plaintiffs who Lynch had never dealt with. Avnon himself was never a party to the case.
Among the grievances alleged in the original statement of claim was that the BDS movement had deprived some of the plaintiffs of the chance to see the performer Elvis Costello, who cancelled a 2010 tour of Israel in protest at the treatment of Palestinians.
All the original plaintiffs except for Shurat HaDin withdrew from the revised lawsuit, which Lynch said “doomed” the case, because the legal centre was not a natural person and could not demonstrate how it was affected by his actions.
Lynch said the agreement brought to an end “the quixotic attempt by Shurat HaDin to establish that any activism in the cause of [BDS] must perforce be motivated by some kind of anti-Semitism”.
“They were absolutely rock solid certain at the outset, but all their attempts to prove it in court and to amass evidence and argument to back it up have completely crumbled,” Lynch told Guardian Australia.
He accused Shurat HaDin of trying to paint his decision not to support Avron’s application for a fellowship as a denial of employment.
“The proposition put to me [by Avnon] was that I permit him the favour of putting my name on his application for the fellowship,” said Lynch.
“I had no power to grant him or withhold it from him. He needed two signatures out of the academic staff of Sydney uni, which is somewhere north of 3,000.”
A solicitor for Shurat Hadin, Andrew Hamilton, did not respond to requests for comment. The Israel-based head of Shurat HaDin, Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, told The Australian that Lynch had won on a technicality.
“We are absolutely determined that Lynch committed an unlawful breach of Australian anti-discrimination law,” said Nitsana Darshan-Leitner on Thursday.
A judge is expected to make the orders early next week.
Israeli group drops case against Sydney academic Jake Lynch
The Australian July 10, 2014
THE Israeli legal activist group Shurat HaDin has abandoned its landmark racial discrimination case against Sydney academic Jake Lynch over his support for an academic boycott of the Jewish state.
The development was claimed a complete victory by Professor Lynch, who denies his participation in the international boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign was racially motivated against Israeli Jews.
As revealed by The Australian yesterday, Professor Lynch’s lawyers recently argued in the Federal Court that there were no real, live plaintiffs left in the case, and since it was not a natural person, Shurat HaDin could not have standing as an aggrieved individual.
In an admission of defeat for Shurat HaDin in a lawsuit in which it suffered many setbacks, lawyers for it and Professor Lynch have applied to judge Alan Robertson for the case to be summarily dismissed for lack of standing.
While Justice Robertson has yet to issue orders, the Israel-based head of Shurat HaDin, Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, made clear to The Australian that this was the end of the trail.
She insisted her group had been defeated not on the merits of the case, but only on a technicality.
“We are absolutely determined that Lynch committed an unlawful breach of Australian anti-discrimination law,” Ms Darshan-Leitner said.
Professor Lynch, who heads Sydney University’s Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, sparked controversy when he knocked back a request from Hebrew University of Jerusalem political scientist Dan Avnon to sponsor him for a visiting fellowship, citing his centre’s support for BDS.
Professor Lynch described the outcome as a “comprehen-sive legal victory” that “represents complete vindication for the principled stance I have taken in fighting off a despicable attack on political freedom in Australia’’. He said the group had agreed to pay his costs.