US court upholds dismissal of suit against Palestinian group accused of supporting terrorism
A US court has upheld the dismissal of a lawsuit alleging that a Palestinian rights group had provided "material support" for terrorism.
This took place at the District of Columbia (Washington, DC) Court of Appeals on Tuesday, following a lawsuit brought by the Jewish National Fund and 12 other plaintiffs (US citizens living in Israel) targeting the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights and its support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.
The plaintiffs point to the USCPR's alleged relationship with the Boycott National Committee and support for the Great Return March, a movement that in 2018 saw thousands of Palestinians in Gaza protest for their legal right to return to their ancestral homes taken by Israel during its creation in 1948.
The lawsuit claims that these activities violate the Antiterrorism Act, which prohibits "material support" for terrorism. Hamas was designated as a "foreign terrorist organisation" by the US in 1997.
According to a USCPR press release, the court found that "[a]dvocating and coordinating a boycott of Israel — 'economically, academically[,] and diplomatically,' is not unlawful."
Though this suit was previously dismissed in January, the move to uphold the dismissal is nonetheless a relief for the USCPR, though they are still expecting another appeal sometime in the coming months.
"They're going to ask the court to reconsider, but we believe the court will stand firm in its decision," Ahmad Abuzneid, USCPR executive director, told The New Arab.
"What we've seen is the application of the law that has affirmed our rights. If they want to make these baseless accusations, we will stay committed to our vision. The suit is just meant to take up our resources," he said.
Though he doesn't expect the suit to go anywhere, he said, "There's a chilling effect. Even if lawsuits are thrown out, every advocate for Palestinian human rights has their family and career in mind. But what we've found is the more they attempt to silence us, the more the movement grows."
In March 2021, a lower court dismissed the suit, describing the arguments as unpersuasive. In January, the USCPR asked the DC Circuit Court of Appeals to uphold a federal district court's dismissal of the lawsuit.