Expert: Israel “Testing Ground” for Lawfare

Washington, Mar. 7- Israel is a major target for activists who abuse the Western legal system for  political ends, human rights attorney Brooke Goldstein said Wednesday.

“Israel is the number one victim of this kind of lawfare attack,” Goldstein said. Lawfare is the term increasingly used to describe the strategic manipulation of legal systems for political or military ends.

In a conference call sponsored by The Israel Project, Goldstein discussed how activists around use lawfare to delegitimize Israel and silence who speak out against radical Islam.

Goldstein is the director of The Lawfare Project, which raises awareness and facilitates a response to lawfare.

Israel is singled out in an overwhelming number of UN human rights resolutions and Israeli officials abroad have been targeted by activists for arrest in a practice known as “universal jurisdiction,” a practice Goldstein says is widely abused.

“The people who use it don’t understand the purposes of it,” Goldstein said, and urged Israel “to go on the offense, asserting its right in international courts of law.”

Current defense minister Ehud Barak and current Kadima Party Leader Tzipi Livni have both been the target of attempted prosecutions during visits to the United Kingdom by Palestinian activists using universal jurisdiction in recent years. Both

Israel’s harassment in Western judicial systems has inspired those want to spread the phenomenon of lawfare in other political arenas, Goldstein said.

“It’d be a great shame to think this doesn’t have other consequences,” Goldstein said. “Israel is merely a legal testing ground.”

The Palestinian Authority, which last fall made a unilateral bid for statehood recognition at the United Nations, has threatened to use legal bodies like the International Criminal Court to prosecute Israel for military actions in the Palestinian territories. In October, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, despite pressure from Israel and the United States, accepted Palestine as a member. Many commentators saw the admission of the PA as a gateway for the Palestinians to other world bodies, including the ICC.

Goldstein also pointed to the questionable legality behind the Goldstone Report as an example of lawfare, which singled out Israel for criticism rather than the terrorist group Hamas for the Israeli military’s actions in Gaza in late 2008 and 2009. The namesake and lead author, Justice Richard Goldstone, later said in aWashington Post Op-Ed that he regretted the final document.

Most troubling about lawfare, however, is the legal cover it provides to terrorists, Goldstein said.

“We send a green light to these types of terrorists, they’re going to keep doing what they’re doing because we’re not going against them,” she said.


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