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DC court dismisses Palestinian lawsuit vs. Jewish donors to Israel

A U.S. federal court has dismissed a $34.5 billion law suit brought by Palestinian activists against 49 American Jewish and Christian donors and businesses who, due to their support of Israel, were accused of supporting Israeli war crimes against Palestinians.

The defendants included casino business tycoon Sheldon Adelson, media proprietor Haim Saban and pro-Israel evangelical leader John Hagee.

The lead plaintiff in the case was Bassem al-Tamimi, a Palestinian who lives in the West Bank. Tamimi travels to America to advocate for BDS on college campuses and who once said that sharing Palestinians’ stories “can start a kind of intifada against Israel in the United States.”

The case, Bassem al-Tamimi et al. v Sheldon Adelson et al., was considered by the U.S. States District Court for the District of Columbia. The lawsuit accused the defendants of conspiring to expel all non-Jews from East Jerusalem and for aiding and abetting war crimes and crimes against humanity, including genocide.

All the plaintiffs are supporters of Israel and some also of the settler movement. Business magnate Adelson, for example, owns Israel Hayom newspaper that has been a staunch supporter of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Saban, founder of Saban Entertainment and producer of children’s program Power Rangers, is a long time donor and supporter of Israel. Hagee is the pastor of a Texas megachurch and founded CUFI (Christians United for Israel), a network of Christians who lobby for and raise money for Israel.

“I am a one issue guy and my issue is Israel,” he has said.

While the Palestinians claimed damages for “immense loss of life, liberty, and property over the last several decades,” Judge Tanya Chutkan wrote in her opinion dismissing the matter that it did not meet the jurisdictional requirements that would enable the court to rule on the matter.

“This issue, both close to the heart of the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict and central to the United States’ foreign policy decision-making in the region, is simply inappropriate for this court to resolve,” Chutkan said, explaining that the court was being asked to rule on the core matter of the lawfulness of Israeli settlements in Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

“Instead, these issues must be decided by the political branches,” the judge said.

The defendants were represented by, among other law firms, the American Center for Law and Justice based in Washington D.C.

“This lawsuit was meant to accomplish in court what the terrorists could never do themselves — eliminate the Jewish state, or at the very least weaken and frighten her supporters into submission,” the ACLJ’s Chief Counsel Jay Sekulow wrote on the center’s website.

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Karen Faulkner
Karen Faulkner recently completed a Master's degree in Human Rights and Transitional Justice at Hebrew University, Jerusalem. She made Aliyah in 2006 and lives in Jerusalem.

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