Israel Using Chicago Law Firm to Combat BDS

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Israel Using Chicago Law Firm to Combat BDS

by Stephen Lendman (stephenlendman.org – Home – Stephen Lendman)

BDS activism is vital. Resisting tyranny is a universal right. BDS aims to hold Israel accountable for its high crimes against Palestinians.

Israel wants criticism of its rogue policies silenced. It’s using underhanded tactics to combat BDS effectiveness.

Chicago-based Sidley Austin is one of America’s largest law firms with offices in 20 cities worldwide, a staff of 1,900 attorneys, and annual revenues of nearly $2 billion.

According to Haaretz, Israel hired the firm to combat BDS in Europe, North America and elsewhere, including preparing legal opinions and handling court proceedings.

Israel’s (in)justice ministry is closed-mouthed about what it calls “diplomatically extremely sensitive.”

Netanyahu’s security cabinet charged the strategic affairs ministry with “coordinating the fight against ‘delegitimization’ and earmarked major resources for these efforts,” said Haaretz.

Its activities haven’t been publicly disclosed. Its director general Sima Vaknin told Knesset members it’s involved in “gathering intelligence and attacking.”

Documents show the state prosecutor’s special-tasks department cooperated with the strategic affairs ministry in soliciting bids from international law firms last year.

It was done for “preparing documents and legal opinions, handling legal proceedings (suits or representation) to the extent needed battling the BDS phenomenon in particular concerning calls and initiatives to impose boycotts and sanctions against Israeli companies and businesses, as well as against foreign companies that have business operations in Israel,” the ministry said.

Details on a document prepared on attacking BDS were redacted when published because of possible “damage to the country’s foreign relations and damage to the ability of these bodies to provide the requested service,” it added.

Contractual relations with Sidley Austin for $1.1 million in services were approved, their details kept secret because of likely lawsuits against BDS activists – perhaps more to harass than win.

In America and Western Europe, speech and other forms of public expression are legal rights. Opinions can be expressed freely, though efforts challenging dissent threatens speech, media and academic freedoms. Censorship in the West is a growing threat.

According to attorney Eitay Mack, “(t)here is the danger of a slippery slope in the secrecy shrouding Israeli anti-BDS activity in the world.”

“It is deeply worrying that the military terminology used by senior officials in the Strategic Affairs Ministry is being used in the fight against civilians abroad who criticize the State of Israel.”

“Just like it’s difficult for Israel’s to sell the occupation, the regime in South Africa had trouble selling Apartheid.”

“Pretoria launched a secret operation of disinformation and persecution of anti-apartheid activists whose exposure led to the dismissal of the prime minister and the opening of a criminal investigation and civil proceedings in the US. We hope…Israel does not exploit secrecy to cross criminal lines.”

Sidley Austin hasn’t acknowledged it’s working for Israel – let alone doing underhanded anti-BDS work.

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Stephen Lendman
Stephen Lendman
Stephen Lendman was born in 1934 in Boston, MA. In 1956, he received a BA from Harvard University. Two years of US Army service followed, then an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania in 1960. After working seven years as a marketing research analyst, he joined the Lendman Group family business in 1967. He remained there until retiring at year end 1999. Writing on major world and national issues began in summer 2005. In early 2007, radio hosting followed. Lendman now hosts the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network three times weekly. Distinguished guests are featured. Listen live or archived. Major world and national issues are discussed. Lendman is a 2008 Project Censored winner and 2011 Mexican Journalists Club international journalism award recipient.