Anti-boycott lawsuit against food co-op is dismissed


A lawsuit seeking to overturn a Washington state food co-op’s boycott of Israeli goods was dismissed in state Superior Court.

Thurston County Superior Court Judge Thomas McPhee on Monday rejected the lawsuit that was filed last September by five members of the Olympia Food Co-Op.

McPhee said the lawsuit runs afoul of a 2010 Washington anti-SLAPP, or strategic lawsuit against public participation, law meant to prevent lawsuits that seek to punish public speech. The law requires plaintiffs to prove that the suit does not attempt to silence free speech, otherwise the plaintiffs must pay the defendants’ legal fees and could be required to pay $10,000 to each of the 16 current or former co-op members named in the suit.

The plaintiffs’ attorney, Bob Sulkin, told The Olympian newspaper that he would appeal the ruling.

The co-op’s board voted 9 to 1 last July to not sell products made in Israel. It continues to sell Peace Oil, an Israeli-Palestinian fair trade olive oil.

“This ruling has huge implications for justice,” said Rochelle Gause, a board member and defendant in the lawsuit. “With growing awareness around this issue, the bullying and intimidation employed by those who defend Israeli human rights abuses at all costs is becoming less and less viable. Hopefully this judgment will open up the door for more businesses and organizations to heed the call and join this movement for human dignity.”

Maria LaHood, a senior staff attorney with the Center for Constitutional Rights, said the ruling sends a message to those trying to silence support of Palestinian human rights to think twice before they bring a lawsuit.”

Olympia is the hometown of Rachel Corrie, an American peace activist who was run over and killed by an Israeli army bulldozer in Gaza in 2003 as she attempted to prevent a Palestinian home from being demolished.

European Union expresses concern over Israel’s boycott law


The European Union put out a carefully worded but clearly critical statement on the new Israeli boycott law on Wednesday, saying it intended to “discuss this matter and raise our concerns with the Israeli authorities.”

“The EU recognizes Israel’s sovereignty in the legislative process.

Furthermore, the EU does not advocate boycotts,” a spokesperson for foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said in a statement.

“However, as part of such fundamental values as free expression and speech that the EU cherishes and shares with Israel, we are concerned about the effect that this legislation may have on the freedom of Israeli citizens and organizations to express non-violent political opinions.”

Read more at Haaretz.com.

Netanyahu defends anti-boycott law


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defended Israel’s new anti-boycott law from criticisms that it damages Israel’s image and is anti-democratic.

“What stains (Israel’s) image are those savage and irresponsible attacks on a democracy’s attempt to draw a line between what is acceptable and what is not,” he told the Knesset Wednesday, according to Haaretz.

The law allows for monetary sanctions against those who encourage boycotts against Israel or areas it controls, such as West Bank settlements. The bill would allow those damaged by boycotts to sue those who advocate such measures.

Netanyahu, who was absent Monday night when the Knesset approved the law by a vote of 45 to 38, expressed his firm support for the law.

“Don’t be confused – I authorized the bill. If I hadn’t authorized it, it wouldn’t have gotten here,” Netanyahu said, according to The Jerusalem Post. “I am opposed to boycotts against Israel and boycotts against groups within Israel. I oppose boycotts of Arabs, of haredi people, and of any citizens of Israel.”

The leader of the opposition Kadima Party, Tzipi Livni, blasted Netanyahu during the Knesset session, which was called by her party. “You are leading Isreal into the abyss,” she said, according to Haaretz.

A variety of left-wing NGOs and civil rights groups are pursuing efforts to get the Israeli Supreme Court to overturn the anti-boycott law. Leaders of a number of American Jewish groups, including the Anti-Defamation League, have also criticized the law as an abridgement of freedom of expression.

A spokesperson for the European Union’s foreign policy chief also raised concerns about the new law on Wednesday.

“The EU recognizes Israel’s sovereignty in the legislative process. Furthermore, the EU does not advocate boycotts,” the spokesperson for Catherine Ashton, the foreign policy chief, said in a statement. “However, as part of such fundamental values as free expression and speech that the EU cherishes and shares with Israel, we are concerned about the effect that this legislation may have on the freedom of Israeli citizens and organizations to express non-violent political opinions.”

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