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Appeals court upholds dismissal of anti-BDS lawsuit against Olympia Food Co-op

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Olympia Food Co-op members showing their support for the Co-op in the face of the anti-BDS lawsuit, August 2013. (Justin Mauger)

Yesterday the Washington State Court of Appeals upheld the dismissal of the anti-BDS lawsuit against the Olympia Food Co-op. The suit had been filed by five Co-op members in 2011 to force the Co-op to rescind its boycott of Israeli goods. Aside from determining additional attorney fees, the appellate court decision may conclude the legal track of anti-BDS efforts against the 15,000-member food cooperative.

The Olympia Food Co-op, based in Olympia, Washington, was the first US grocery store to publicly honor the Palestinian boycott call in 2010. A year later, the resultant legal attack became the first anti-BDS lawsuit. In Feb. 2012, the lawsuit was dismissed as a violation of  Washington State’s anti-SLAPP legislation, which prohibited lawsuits strategically designed to inhibit free speech—a ruling now affirmed in the court of appeals.

Although the five plaintiffs still have the right to appeal to the state supreme court, it is unlikely to produce a different result, as the supreme court had already refused to hear the case prior to the court of appeals decision.

For the duration of the court case—in which the plaintiffs claimed that the lawsuit was not a defense of Israel but a procedural challenge—several pro-Israel interests became involved, ranging from the multimillion-dollar Israel advocacy group StandWithUs, to the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and most recently the Lawfare Project.

StandWithUs and Israeli government involvement finally acknowledged

In the past, both StandWithUs and the plaintiffs have downplayed the involvement of the Israeli government and StandWithUs in the lawsuit. This no longer appears to be the case, as an “emergency response” page on the StandWithUs website is surprisingly candid:

In 2011, StandWithUs filed a lawsuit against the Olympia Food Co-op in Olympia, Washington, to nullify its boycott of Israeli-made products. The lawsuit was the byproduct of the partnership between StandWithUs and the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, spearheaded by Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon, and brought against the Olympia Food Co-op and its board for violating their own policies.

This statement contradicts prior assertions made by StandWithUs to the Forward and Electronic Intifada, as well as claims made in signed declarations filed by the plaintiffs in court. However, thanks to StandWithUs meeting notes accidentally posted online, activists learned about these connections before the lawsuit was even filed.

The Lawfare Project gets involved

A new addition to the Israel lobby’s participation in the lawsuit, however, is the Lawfare Project, a relatively small anti-BDS outfit based in New York. On Jan. 27, 2014, the Lawfare Project submitted an amicus curiae brief to the appeals court that sided with the plaintiffs’ claim that the anti-SLAPP statute had been incorrectly applied.

In order to make the case, the Lawfare Project presented itself to the court as an organization with a deep interest in SLAPP laws, while concealing its Israel-apologist agenda.

Yet a closer examination of the Lawfare Project’s workings make this agenda clear:

The Lawfare Project was registered as a nonprofit in 2010, receiving startup money from the foundation of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations. In fact, the Lawfare Project is housed in the same building floor as the Conference of Presidents—a floor also shared with the World Zionist Organization and the American Zionist Federation.

The Lawfare Project also receives donations from the Jewish Communal Fund (a donor advised fund) and the MZ Foundation, headed by Myron Zimmerman, sugar daddy for several Israel advocacy organizations such as StandWithUs and the Zionist Organization of America.

Myron Zimmerman (left), who funds both the Lawfare Project and StandWithUs, is pictured here with StandWithUs founders Esther Renzer and Roz Rothstein (second and fourth from left), along with Elon Gold and Bret Stephens. (StandWithUs fundraising gala, 2013)

Myron Zimmerman (left), who funds both the Lawfare Project and StandWithUs, is pictured here with StandWithUs founders Esther Renzer and Roz Rothstein (second and fourth from left), along with Elon Gold and Bret Stephens. (StandWithUs fundraising gala, 2013)

The Lawfare Project claims its interest in the Co-op lawsuit is due to

an egregious example of the misuse of [Washington’s anti-SLAPP law] to bar the access to justice, which also constitutes an unconstitutional legislative infringement on the separation of powers.

However, the only three references to anti-SLAPP legislation on the Lawfare Project’s website are all favorable. Furthermore, a Lawfare Project book, Lawfare: The War Against Free Speech: A First Amendment Guide for Reporting in an Age of Islamist Lawfare, has a chapter that praises the value of anti-SLAPP laws.

Yet when it comes to the Co-op lawsuit, the Lawfare Project sides with appellants who were arguing that the Washington State anti-SLAPP law was unconstitutional.

Outside of anti-SLAPP laws, the Lawfare Project’s advocacy gets more interesting. Its website features an article suggesting that groups boycotting Israel could be sued. It has also contributed to a complaint calling on the IRS to revoke the tax-exempt status of the American Studies Association for boycotting Israel and takes credit for the 2012 rejection of a Park Slope Food Coop BDS initiative.

As far back as June 2013, it was reported that Benjamin Ryberg, director of research at the Lawfare Project, was working on an amicus brief for the Olympia Food Co-op case. However, the brief that was eventually filed with the appeals court on behalf of the Lawfare Project was submitted not by Ryberg but by Seattle real estate attorney Rob Spitzer.

Rob Spitzer

Rob Spitzer

Like the plaintiffs’ lead attorney Bob Sulkin, Spitzer is a prominent figure in the Greater Seattle Jewish community. His father, Jack Spitzer, was the president of B’nai B’rith International. Rob Spitzer himself is a former president of the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle and now ex officio board member. As president of the Spitzer Foundation, he has provided grants to Hope for Heroism, an organization that assists disabled Israeli soldiers and that was co-founded by Bob Sulkin.

And like Sulkin, Spitzer has ties to StandWithUs Northwest, the pro-Israel organization chapter that helped file the lawsuit. Previously I had reported that Bob Sulkin and his wife were at one point “row hosts” for a StandWithUs fundraiser, as indicated in a since-deleted StandWithUs web page. That same web page indicated that Rob Spitzer and his wife were also designated StandWithUs row hosts.

Plaintiffs’ lead attorney Bob Sulkin and amicus brief author Rob Spitzer both appear in a now-deleted web page as row hosts for a StandWithUs Northwest fundraiser.

Plaintiffs’ lead attorney Bob Sulkin and amicus brief author Rob Spitzer both appear in a now-deleted web page as row hosts for a StandWithUs Northwest fundraiser.

In 2006, Sulkin and Spitzer traveled to Israel together as part of a five-man delegation expressing solidarity with Israel during its bombing of Lebanon.

Thus the Lawfare Project portrays itself as a third-party “friend of the court” with an interest in anti-SLAPP legislation in order to conceal an agenda that would compromise its argument. Indeed, with the amicus author’s connections to StandWithUs and to the plaintiffs’ lead attorney, such disclosures would have compromised the Lawfare Project’s claim to be a third party interested in SLAPP laws and whatnot.

Oh, and in a  peculiar typo, the Lawfare Project misidentified itself as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU):

A peculiar typo in the appellants’ brief.

A peculiar typo in the appellants’ brief.

Ultimately, the appeals court was not moved by the Lawfare Project’s brief—the court opinion makes no reference to it at all.

False and contradictory statements made in sworn declarations

In its appeal brief, the plaintiffs contended that the trial court had inappropriately discounted their declarations as hearsay. In fact, I would contend that referring to the declarations as hearsay would be generous. Declarations submitted by or for the plaintiffs were replete with falsehoods and contradictions of other statements.

Prior to suing the Co-op, three of the five plaintiffs ran for board of directors in the 2010 Co-op election. All three lost by a landslide. In order to explain their lack of popularity, boycott opponents accused BDS activists of cheating. Such a claim was made by one of the plaintiffs’ “expert” witnesses, Massachusetts blogger Jon Haber, who wrote on his “Divest This!” website, months before the lawsuit was filed:

pro-boycott forces decided to play it safe by simply changing the rules (again), making it possible for the first time for people (i.e., Evergreen students) to join the Co-op without physically visiting the store. With that rule change in place, it was a simple matter to recruit students to simultaneously become members then vote in a pro-boycott slate for an organization they will probably never visit.

Yet this claim never appeared anywhere in the lawsuit—not even in Haber’s declaration in support of the plaintiffs. Instead an alternate claim was made by four of the five plaintiffs:

“Voter turnout” for the Co-op’s Board elections in November 2010 was greater for the five candidates endorsed by BDS because BDS activists at the Evergreen State College campus had recruited then carpooled students to the Co-op to become members for the express purpose of endorsing the Israel Boycott and Divestment resolution/policies.

Not only are these two claims baseless, they contradict each other. The latter claim was made by plaintiffs in sworn statements “declare[d] under penalty of perjury” as being “true and correct and based on personal knowledge”—that is, they claim to have witnessed events that had never happened.

In the end, the appeals court found that the declarations were not necessary to make a SLAPP determination in the case. However, had the lawsuit proceeded and the plaintiffs’ declarations been scrutinized, they may have been held liable for committing perjury.

Another declaration on behalf of the plaintiffs was filed by Co-op member Nancy Koppelman. Koppelman’s declaration alleged that the Co-op’s boycott was “improper and unlawful.” Yet a year earlier she had criticized the Co-op board for following the bylaws too closely in implementing the boycott, declaring that “the letter of the law was wrong” and comparing the board to “slave traders who followed the letter of [the] law [to] justify their actions.”

And though Koppelman’s declaration stated that she “no longer shop[ped] at the Co-op,” she nevertheless ran for the Co-op board in 2013, running on a platform that made gratuitous reference to Omar Barghouti. Unsurprisingly, she lost.

What’s next for Olympia

Although this might be the end of the lawsuit, it is not the end to the attacks against the Olympia Food Co-op. BDS opponents have waged a multi-track strategy against the Co-op. At the extreme has been the lawsuit, but opponents have also continued to write letters against the Co-op in local media and complain to the Co-op board that they are oppressed by the Co-op’s boycott.

The loss of the legal track only means a ramping up of other avenues of attack.

And absolutely no one will take responsibility for having supported the lawsuit. Even the most prominent and influential rabbi in Olympia expressed support for the plaintiffs and accused the Co-op defendants of “decid[ing] to use punitive action in making a SLAPP claim against its own members.” In other words, the rabbi criticized the defendants for defending themselves with the most obvious and sensible defense available, the state’s anti-SLAPP legislation—and he did so on the basis that such a defense would harm the plaintiffs—the very plaintiffs who had threatened the defendants with a “complicated, burdensome, and expensive” process.


Appendix: Chronology of developments in the Co-op lawsuit

July 15, 2010: The Olympia Food Co-op board of directors approves a request by a working member to honor the Palestinian civil society call for an Israeli boycott—becoming the first US grocery store to publicly do so. Opponents of the boycott will utilize every means possible to overturn the boycott except for a member-initiated ballot, which they fear would lose.

August 11, 2010: Future plaintiff Kent Davis joins the Olympia Food Co-op after the boycott is in place. Along with his fellow plaintiffs, he will eventually sue the Co-op for “irreparable injury” sustained by the Co-op’s refusal to stock Israeli products.

Fall 2010: Several boycott opponents run for the Co-op board of directors, every one of them losing by a landslide to pro-boycott candidates. Three of the losing candidates, will later become plaintiffs in the anti-BDS lawsuit.

March 11, 2011: The future plaintiffs of the lawsuit hold a private meeting in Olympia with Seattle attorney Avi Lipman (who will represent the plaintiffs in the lawsuit), Seattle representatives of StandWithUs, and Israeli Consul General Akiva Tor. According to StandWithUs meeting notes, a “presentation of legal case” is given. Subsequent notes will refer to the Olympia Food Co-op lawsuit as a StandWithUs “project.”

Later that day, Akiva Tor is confronted by an Olympia activist who accuses Tor of being in Olympia to help quash BDS. Tor denies this, although the anti-BDS meeting is later confirmed by other attendees, who claim the content of the meeting is protected under attorney-client privilege.

May 31, 2011: The future plaintiffs issue a letter to sixteen current and former Co-op board members and staff, threatening them with a “complicated, burdensome, and expensive” lawsuit unless the current board rescinds the Israel boycott. The board does not submit to the threat.

June 2011: StandWithUs releases an overdramatic anti-BDS video featuring four of the five future plaintiffs, who claim that BDS destroys communities and encourage anti-Semitism.

September 2, 2011: The plaintiffs, five members of the Olympia Food Co-op, file their lawsuit in Washington State Superior Court (Davis et al. v. Cox et al).

Mid-September 2011: Following reports by Electronic Intifada and Richard Silverstein about the involvement of StandWithUs and the Israeli government in the Co-op lawsuit, Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon responds to Israeli news queries by stating that

It is very important to make use of every means at our disposal, mainly legal means … And it’s true, we are using this organization, StandWithUs, to amplify our power.

February 27, 2012: Judge Thomas McPhee dismisses the Co-op lawsuit as a violation of the state’s anti-SLAPP law, with penalties levied against the plaintiffs to be determined later.

July 12, 2012: Judge McPhee rejects the plaintiffs’ claim that since they had sued the Co-op on behalf of the Co-op membership, it was the Co-op that should pay the fines. Instead, he awards each of the sixteen defendants $10,000, plus attorney’s fees. The defense attorneys, who were working on behalf of the Center for Constitutional Rights and the law firm of Davis Wright Tremaine, had taken the case pro bono, to be compensated only upon prevailing. Altogether, fines and attorneys’ fees add up to $221,846.75, owed by the plaintiffs.

August 10, 2012: The plaintiffs file a notice of appeal to the Washington State Supreme Court.

August 6, 2013: The supreme court refuses to hear the appeal and transfers the case to the state court of appeals.

January 27, 2014: The Lawfare Project submits an amicus curiae brief to the court of appeals in order to support the appellants’ claim that the anti-SLAPP statute did not apply.

April 7, 2014: Washington State Court of Appeals Division I upholds the trial court’s dismissal and rejects the appellants’ claims on all pertinent grounds. The opinion is authored by Judge Stephen J. Dwyer with judges Michael S. Spearman and Ann Schindler concurring. Additional attorneys’ fees are to be determined later.

Further information on the Olympia Food Co-op lawsuit can also be found in my previous articles: “Who’s who behind the Olympia Food Co-op lawsuit” and “Excerpts from the Olympia Food Co-op lawsuit dismissal.”

 

Phan Nguyen
About Phan Nguyen

Phan Nguyen lives in New York and has a Twitter account: @Phan_N

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30 Responses

  1. chuckcarlos
    chuckcarlos on April 8, 2014, 7:44 pm

    Freedom of Speech is almost sacrosanct in the USA…

    fail to see how any educated person can misunderstand what that means…

    Political Free Speech is almost boundless…as is evidenced by Jerry Falwell screwing god…”one nation under god”…and the Supreme Court found against Falwell…

    Boycott of goods would seem to be the most American thing one can do….

    That’s why we all live here…Guns, Speech, Religion and Property…American as John Brown and Kansas…Richard Pryor…Cesar Chavez….

    This is one jew who gets “it”

    • Krauss
      Krauss on April 9, 2014, 12:24 am

      You can never have enough old Western songs. Apparently?

    • Anti-BDS
      Anti-BDS on April 9, 2014, 10:22 am

      Israel has every right to appeal a decision that boycotts their country. Any country has the right to appeal and even contest boycotts. Whether they win or lose, are right or wrong is a different matter but their right must be upheld. I can see you already geared up ready to go on a rant about they can forget about their rights due to their treatment of the Palestinians blah blah, but I remind you all that we do not lose our legal and national status simply because of your racist, double standard arguments.

      • talknic
        talknic on April 9, 2014, 11:50 am

        Anti-BDS ” I can see you already geared up ready to go on a rant about they can forget about their rights due to their treatment of the Palestinians blah blah”

        Cute. Speculation can be fun. You can say whatever bullsh*t you want

        “but I remind you all that we do not lose our legal and national status ..”

        No one is asking Israel to give up its legal and national status. They’re attempting to have Israel abide by the law.

      • DaBakr
        DaBakr on April 9, 2014, 1:11 pm

        “No one is asking Israel to give up its legal and national status. They’re attempting to have Israel abide by the law.”

        That lie has been put to the fire many times and always burns. BDS calls for all lands including east Jerusalem to be turned over as well as having all refugees and their progeny return to Israel which in effect and actuality negates the sovereignty of Jews over their own small nation which was the reason Israel was returned to the Jews in the first place. It creates two Palestines which is something the founder here at mw freely advocates. There is not one ‘Muslim’ nation in the region or in the world that doesn’t treat Jews with some form of second class status -or- dhimmitude and so, it should not be surprising that in a tiny nation with almost 20% Muslims there is not some bristling at the notion that Muslims should have to live ‘under’ Jewish sovereignty. Without such bristling and had the Arab population of Israel been less hostile[yes, i know they consider their land ‘stolen’] I doubt the class status between Jew and Muslim would be nearly as pronounced as it is now. And the class distinctions are improving every year in Israel due to many factors-both internal and external. Of course Muslims have long accepted Christian sovereignty but have simply not been able to get over the fact that these Jews should ANY type of sovereign power that trumps their natural superiority as Muslims.

      • talknic
        talknic on April 10, 2014, 1:10 am

        @DaBakr

        “That lie has been put to the fire many times and always burns.”

        Your lies and propaganda don’t burn anything buddy

        “BDS calls for all lands including east Jerusalem to be turned over”

        “all lands”? You lie (Lying is against the basic tenets of Judaism on behalf of the Jewish state? Really weird that so many apologists for Israel lie!) and;

        East Jerusalem is not Israeli. Since being proclaimed BY THE ISRAELI GOVERNMENT as ” an independent republic within frontiers approved by the General Assembly of the United Nations in its Resolution of November 29, 1947″ http://www.trumanlibrary.org/whistlestop/study_collections/israel/large/documents/newPDF/49.pdf Israel has never legally acquired ANY territory via legal annexation by agreement and;
        The acquisition of territory by war, ANY war, has been illegal since at least 1933 http://pages.citebite.com/y1f0t4q1v4son

        ” as well as having all refugees and their progeny return to Israel”

        “all refugees” again you lie!

        “all the refugees and their progeny” do not have RoR to Israel. Far more refugees have a right to return to non-Israeli territory illegally acquired by Israel by war by 1949/50 and ’67 . That’s the threat Israel fears.

        The Palestinian claim to return to Israel is via UNGA res 194 (1948). UNRWA didn’t exist until 1949, it’s irrelevant to UNGA res 194 (1948)

        ” which in effect and actuality negates the sovereignty of Jews over their own small nation”

        Only if one believes the lies you’ve told above Pajero. Under scrutiny your strawman falls over. Pity, it was so cute

      • amigo
        amigo on April 9, 2014, 12:29 pm

        Another newbee from hasbara central.

        A hasbarat who moved from blight-y to the blight unto nations.

        Some muvvers do ave em.

      • Anti-BDS
        Anti-BDS on April 9, 2014, 12:52 pm

        Yes Amigo, You got me, I am the Hasbara newbie, I am sitting here in Jerusalem with my horns sticking out the side of my head, drinking Palestinian children s blood whilst I work out how many international laws to break because I am evil…. What a ridiculous statement you make!

      • talknic
        talknic on April 10, 2014, 11:48 am

        @ Anti-BDS

        “.. I am sitting here in Jerusalem with my horns sticking out the side of my head, drinking Palestinian children s blood whilst I work out how many international laws to break because I am evil…. “

        If you say so, no one else has… Have you anything else but a legless little strawman?

        “What a ridiculous statement you make!”

        Uh? That was your statement

      • eljay
        eljay on April 10, 2014, 1:20 pm

        >> … I am the Hasbara newbie, I am sitting here in Jerusalem with my horns sticking out the side of my head, drinking Palestinian children s blood whilst I work out how many international laws to break because I am evil…. What a ridiculous statement you make!

        Not nearly as ridiculous as yours. You don’t have to have horns or drink the blood of children to be a hateful and immoral Zio-supremacist justifies and/or advocates terrorism, ethnic cleansing, land theft, occupation, colonialism, destruction, torture and murder.

      • DaBakr
        DaBakr on April 9, 2014, 1:17 pm

        whats ‘hasbara central”? anybody who disagrees with you? i guess you like to play in your own sandbox. and fyi: what you do is Palestinian hasbara no different then any other ‘hasbara’ unless you think attaching a modern hebrew word to the act of PR, propaganda and or narrative telling makes it particularly ‘Jewish’ which of course would be bigoted and racist which O am sure you are not…

      • talknic
        talknic on April 10, 2014, 12:08 pm

        @ DaBakr “whats ‘hasbara central”?”

        Where Hasbarristers go to get their Hasbarrows filled with wholly holey mouldy old Hasbara. They’re all the same. Same tactics. Same arguments. Same disappear from a thread when they can’t answer a question. Same reappear and ignore what they avoided. Same derailing, same pointing elsewhere, same never admitting. Same false accusations, same smear tactics. Same lies

        “anybody who disagrees with you?”

        No. Peddlers of easily dis-proven nonsense.

        “i guess you like to play in your own sandbox.”

        Heck no. It’s better fun showing how some sand boxes have only sand.

        ” what you do is Palestinian hasbara no different then any other ‘hasbara’ “

        Uh? It’s Jewish Agency and Israeli Government statements from 1948 that show the lies they perpetuate now. http://talknic.wordpress.com/

        “unless you think attaching a modern hebrew word to the act of PR”

        Uh? Justification isn’t PR and when the justification is nothing more than easily disproven bullsh*t and nonsense, it’s propaganda.

      • seanmcbride
        seanmcbride on April 10, 2014, 1:05 pm

        DaBakr:

        whats ‘hasbara central”?

        FYI:

        [Sourcewatch: Hasbara http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Hasbara ]

        Hasbara refers to the propaganda efforts to improve Israel’s image abroad, to justify its actions, and defend it in world opinion. It is a public diplomacy effort undertaken by Israeli government officers, or individuals in target countries (public or private efforts; group or individual efforts). Israel portrays itself as fighting on two fronts: against the Palestinians/Arabs and world opinion. The latter is dealt with hasbara. The premise of hasbara is that Israel’s problems are a matter of better propaganda, and not one of an underlying unjust situation.

        And:

        Hasbara Campus Manual

        A Hasbara manual for students to use on US university campuses is now available online. A summary of the techniques is provided from page 31 onwards:

        Propaganda is used by those who want to communicate in ways that engage the emotions and downplay rationality, in an attempt to promote a certain message.

        The manual goes on to describe seven propaganda techniques:

        1. Name calling: through the careful use of words, then name calling technique links a person or an idea to a negative symbol.

        2. Glittering generality: Simply put, glittering generality is name calling in reverse. Instead of trying to attach negative meanings to ideas or people, glittering generalities use positive phrases, which the audience are attached to, in order to lend positive image to things. Words such as “freedom”, “civilization”,…

        3. Transfer: Transfer involves taking some of the prestige and authority of one concept and applying it to another. For example, a speaker might decide to speak in front of a United Nations flag, in an attempt to gain legitimacy for himself or his idea.

        4. Testimonial: Testimonial means enlisting the support of somebody admired or famous to endorse and ideal or campaign.

        5. Plain folks: The plain folks technique attempts to convince the listener that the speaker is a ‘regular guy’, who is trust-worthy because the are like ‘you or me’.

        6. Fear: Stressing that ignoring the message will likely lead to war, terrorism

        7. Bandwagon: Suggest that the stated position is mainstream and use polls to suggest this.

      • seanmcbride
        seanmcbride on April 10, 2014, 1:13 pm

        Some synonyms for “hasbara”:

        1. propaganda
        2. spin
        3. public relations
        4. pilpul
        5. Talmudic meanderings
        6. ethnic nationalist groupthink
        7. sophistry
        8. casuistry
        9. obfuscation
        10. nonsense
        11. lies
        12. bullshit

        Definition of sophistry: the use of fallacious arguments, esp. with the intention of deceiving.

      • annie
        annie on April 10, 2014, 5:55 pm

        whats ‘hasbara central”? anybody who disagrees with you?

        not really. many of us operate with the assumption this site is targeted

        “Covert online students hasbara units directed out of Israeli PM Netanyau’s office”

        http://mondoweiss.net/2013/08/covert-online-students-hasbara-units-directed-out-of-israeli-pm-netanyaus-office.html

        plus, we’ve intercepted hasbrat commenters using i.p. addresses directly from that location in the past. ask yourself, why wouldn’t they be commenting here?

  2. Les
    Les on April 8, 2014, 8:21 pm

    Israel can thank US taxpayers for its deep pockets that make it affordable to fund such anti-Palestinian lobbyists as these.

    • puppies
      puppies on April 10, 2014, 7:32 pm

      @Annie – In fact, we shouldn’t be using their own term, “hasbara”. What they are doing is Propaganda, entirely in its Goebbelsian meaning –new and improved. But I suppose that “hasbara” will generally have that connotation in a little while.

  3. oldgeezer
    oldgeezer on April 8, 2014, 9:33 pm

    It is very important to make use of every means at our disposal, mainly legal means …

    Begs the question as to what illegal means were/are being considered.

  4. Krauss
    Krauss on April 9, 2014, 12:27 am

    Phan’s been doing yeoman’s work on this issue. So my heartfelt thanks out to you for having the energy and stamina for following this story through and giving us unprecedented details. In many ways, reading you reminds me of the best quality journalism on this issue, typically from folks like Max Blumenthal and you too of course.

    As for the resolvement of the Olympia Co-Op BDS case… this is an important victory, not just in the narrow, immediate sense but also as a precedent for similar cases.

    If there will be intimidation campaigns against similar pro-BDS initiatives – and there will – then courts will have something to learn from as they make their call.

    • Krauss
      Krauss on April 9, 2014, 12:30 am

      P.S.

      Note the sociology of this. The pro-Israeli side is dependent upon donations from rich moguls while the BDS crowd can get lawyers working for them on a pro-bono basis; idealism.

      That really tells it all, who has the grassroots support and who is forced to rely on astroturfing. A tellsign of the future.

    • on April 9, 2014, 8:32 am

      Didn’t the plaintiffs repeatedly perjure themselves? Should they not be penalized for this?

  5. Kay24
    Kay24 on April 9, 2014, 1:13 am

    I see one of the media favorites of the zionists, Bret Stephens in that picture too.
    When it comes to Israel and it’s crime he is far from fair, and mostly unbalanced.
    Loyalty to the mother ship over his host nation, typical of these so called “American” journalists.
    BDS is a movement that is gaining steam, and Israel, it’s minions like zionist media, nor hasbara can stop it. The majority in the world (minus the US) know full well, that a rogue state is deceiving the world with tales of being victim, while victimizing, and stealing from, it’s neighbors.

  6. DICKERSON3870
    DICKERSON3870 on April 9, 2014, 3:15 am

    RE: “Ultimately, the appeals court was not moved by the Lawfare Project’s brief—the court opinion makes no reference to it at all.” ~ Phan Nguyen

    MY COMMENT: Ouch! ! ! That appeals court really knows how to hurt a guy!

  7. LeaNder
    LeaNder on April 9, 2014, 6:40 am

    Phan, or anybody else who knows. I don’t want to dive too deeply into this.

    Where do I find a link to the initial, dismissed charges. I understand filed by Avi J. Lipman, but yes that is a cursory fast check. And ideally the dismissal, opinion, judgment or whatever you call that. Anyway what the appeal’s court opinion (by ?J. Dwyer?) refers to.

    OK, I’ll fast check the older reports meanwhile. Maybe I find it there.

    :I can’t backpedal now, or make this comment disappear. I think if it was available it would be here or there

    • LeaNder
      LeaNder on April 9, 2014, 6:52 am

      Ok, got it. Maybe. The transcript is also judge Thomas McPhee’s opinion. That one I haven’t read yet.

      This is great anyway. Congratulations Phan, great reports on the issue.

  8. DaveS
    DaveS on April 9, 2014, 8:34 am

    As usual, Phan provides a very comprehensive and well-researched analysis of a very significant event. I would add only that the Lawfare Project, which filed the amicus brief, is a truly nefarious organization that sets new standards in hypocrisy. It generally characterizes Lawfare as an evil to be combatted, but essentially it is in favor of any use of the law to further a right-wing Israeli agenda (e.g., the settlements are legal) and opposes any use of the law to promote Palestinian rights. LP’s general support of anti-SLAPP laws, while arguing that the Washington statute in this case was unconstitutional, is par for its course.

    As for the curious typo, it appears that LP acquired a brief submitted by ACLU on some other case that included similar case law and/or arguments (no doubt in a very different factual context), and used it as a template for LP’s amicus brief here. They weren’t careful enough to make all the necessary changes from the original. As a lawyer, I sometimes use other briefs as a template (almost always one of my own in a different case) and have been known to do the same thing. It’s a bit embarrassing and a tell-tale sign.

    • LeaNder
      LeaNder on April 9, 2014, 12:31 pm

      As for the curious typo, it appears that LP acquired a brief submitted by ACLU on some other case that included similar case law and/or arguments (no doubt in a very different factual context), and used it as a template for LP’s amicus brief here.

      Wonderful, thanks David. When I started to read your reply I immediately mentally put you into the law department.

      We call that Textbausteine, by the way. No doubt the paralegal/secretary makes ample use of these tools, necessarily, it spite of the fact that they seem to be by far the fasted typists in the world. Big bow! The one that had to sign was too preoccupied with checking if “valid” and “ultra vires” juxtaposing each other had been correctly italicized. ;)

      I have to admit that I found it fascinating at least what I saw of it so far. To use a shortcut and don’t start with Shakespeare:

      MR. SULKIN: Sure, Your Honor. Ultimately, ultimately, we have two separate questions, I think, not three. And I’m sure I was the one that’s at
      fault for creating this misimpression. I think on the question of discovery, all right, the question of discovery, obviously I believe there’s a clear separation of powers problem. If congress —
      THE COURT: I understand that.

      For whatever reason I cannot open any link to the Washington Appellate Court today. I don’t understand that. I am suppose there must be an audio-file I would like to listen to, at least it says so in the end here.

      Fascinating absolutely fascinating … how power weaves itself in and out of this tale occasionally masquerading as democracy. …

  9. LeaNder
    LeaNder on April 10, 2014, 11:36 am

    Asking for help / or a link check. Anyone?

    Context:

    Phan: September 2, 2011: The plaintiffs, five members of the Olympia Food Co-op, file their lawsuit in Washington State Superior Court (Davis et al. v. Cox et al).

    Link:
    Center for Constitutional Rights – Davis, et al. v. Cox, et al.

    There specifically:

    February 24, 2014: The case was argued before the Washington State Court of Appeals. Click here for audio recording of the oral argument.

    Link to audio document:

    audio file

    For whatever reason, I cannot even access the Court of Appeals in Seattle, Washington. If I ping the address, it says it is down.

  10. puppies
    puppies on April 10, 2014, 7:36 pm

    “This statement contradicts prior assertions made by StandWithUs to… as well as claims made in signed declarations filed by the plaintiffs in court.”

    So what is the penalty for filing knowingly false declarations with the court, and are we getting an update on that?

  11. piotr
    piotr on April 11, 2014, 8:57 am

    I think that “Hasbara Central” is a misnomer, because in Israel itself there are numerous mutually independent hasbara outfits. Off the bat, it includes activities of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and a separate ministry for Diaspora relations, and the office of prime minister, and IDF. Then there are Israeli think tanks like Shalem Institute, Reit etc.

    But in USA, having own hasbara outfit is a precious tchotchke for a business person, so there are quite a few of those as well. But indeed, poor foot soldiers are equipped by manuals, tapes, lectures and so on. That said, selecting “anti-BDS” as a tag suggest an amateur troll. Trolling may have a professional purpose, like provoking comments that can be used to document “anti-semitism” and “extemism”, of the site , so feeding trolls should be done carefully.

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