On November 3, Minneapolis activists protested a University of Minnesota Law School event featuring Moshe Halbertal, co-author of the Israel Defense Force’s Code of Ethics.
Palestine Legal has been following developments related to this protest, especially regarding several troubling reports that: 1) the law school relied on forceful police intervention to suppress the non-violent protests; 2) law school staff and police arbitrarily singled out for removal people of color who were not disrupting the event; 3) the police used disproportionate force in removing protesters perceived to be Palestinian and other protesters of color; and 4) the police arrested a lawyer filming the police.
Recently, the criminal case brought against the lawyer revealed that the far-right Israel advocacy organization StandWithUs has contacted prosecutors urging that all three individuals be “prosecuted to the full extent of the law.”
It is telling that at a time when communities across the country are rising up to hold law enforcement and elected officials accountable, StandWithUs is encouraging police force and prosecution in incidents involving peaceful speech activities.
As a legal organization, we are particularly alarmed that StandWithUs is demanding the prosecution of Jordan Kushner, the lawyer who was arrested for exercising his First Amendment right to film the protest and subsequent police response. Such action is likely to cause him professional damage, and create a chilling effect that deters others from openly supporting Palestinian rights.
Palestine Legal has documented further examples of the “Palestine Exception to Free Speech” by Israel’s fiercest defenders, including StandWithUs, in a report we released in September. StandWithUs was also the subject of an Amicus Brief we filed in the baseless case against the Olympia Food Co-op, which revealed StandWithUs’ deep involvement in the case and in other efforts to silence, intimidate and threaten individuals and groups who advocate for Palestinian rights.