US judge dismisses lawsuit against Steven Salaita's BDS endorsement

US judge dismisses lawsuit against Steven Salaita's BDS endorsement
A US federal judge dismisses lawsuit targeting Palestinian-American academic Steven Salaita over the academic boycott of Israel.
3 min read
06 February, 2019
BDS is a nonviolent movement [Getty]

A US federal judge dismissed a lawsuit against prominent academic Steven Salaita over his support for the boycott of Israeli academic institutions, amid a growing tendency in America to criminalise criticism of Israel.

“Last night, a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit filed against Dr. Steven Salaita over the American Studies Association’s (ASA) resolution to endorse the call to boycott Israeli academic institutions as part of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement”, the Center for Constitutional Rights said in a press release.

“I'm thrilled that this baseless case has been dismissed. It served no purpose other than persecuting those who dare to criticise Israeli policy and seek to end the occupation through peaceful means,” Salaita said.

“Our victory further illustrates that it's important to stand firm against attempts to silence those devoted to the cause of justice.”

In April 2016, a lawsuit was filed by members of the ASA over a 2013 resolution that called for the academic boycott of Israel.

The dismissal comes amid a growing inclination in the US to criminalise criticism and boycott of the Israeli state.

On Tuesday, the US Senate passed a measure that would criminalise politically motivated boycotts of Israel across the US, saying that such a law violates the constitution.

The Middle East security bill, which among other things aims to combat the global BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) movement that denounces Israel's occupation of Palestinian territories and pressures companies that do business with the Jewish state, passed in the senate by 77 votes to 23.

Republican Senator Marco Rubio, the measure's sponsor, said he is pushing back against what he described as a "campaign of discriminatory economic warfare against Israel."

The law would allow a state or local government "to divest from entities that engage in" BDS activities targeting Israel or persons or companies doing business in Israel.

And according to Palestine Legal, 24 US states currently have anti-BDS legislation enacted, with 11 more with similar rulings pending.

The nonviolent BDS movement says it is inspired by the campaign that targeted South Africa's apartheid regime and is seeking an end to Israel's brutal occupation of the West Bank.

Israel sees BDS as a strategic threat and accuses it of anti-Semitism – a claim activists firmly deny, calling it an attempt to discredit them.

But the movement, which adheres to peaceful resistance, aims to pressure Israel to adhere to international law and human rights by lobbying various states, institutions and personas to understand its oppression of Palestinians and take action as a result.

BDS operates by pressuring corporations, artists and academic institutions to sever ties with Israel with supporters saying activities are aimed at promoting a Palestinian statehood.

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