Lawyers are pitching in against Israel
VEXATIOUS ALLEGATIONS are part of an increasingly successful “lawfare” strategy by which anti-israel activists are turning to the legal system to undermine Israel and its defenders.
The main manifestation saw Israeli politicians refusing to disembark at Heathrow Airport for fear of arrest for alleged war crimes.
Then there were the anti-israel activists who caused £180,000 damage to the EDO arms factory in Brighton during Operation Cast Lead but who were acquitted after successfully arguing in their defence that they were trying to prevent Israeli war crimes in Gaza.
During their trial for aggravated trespass, four activists who stormed Ahava in Covent Garden, forcing its closure for three hours, unsuccessfully argued that they were trying to prevent Ahava aiding and/or abetting war crimes in selling products from an illegal settlement.
Approval for this anti-israel activ- ism is coming from the top of the legal profession. In November 2010, Michael Mansfield QC, addressing an audience at Amnesty International, said that, if individuals are prosecuted for entering factories, shops or offices their defence is “yes, there is damage, but the damage was done out of necessity to prevent a greater evil being caused”. Two barristers from Mansfield’s chambers represented the anti-ahava activists.
With anti-israel sentiment infiltrating the legal arena, it is crucial for organisations like UK Lawyers For Israel to be able to advise when Israel’s interests are threatened in this way.
Few expected an acquittal in the “SOAS biter” case in which the defendant had left teeth marks on the cheek of a pro-israel activist. Few expected acquittals in the EDO case where the judge was reprimanded afterwards for comparing Gaza to scenes caused by the Nazis. And the judge who convicted the anti-ahava activists found Ahava’s shop to be “trading lawfully” but said he reached this conclusion with “considerable hesitancy”.
Richard Millett is a pro-israel blogger