A federal lawsuit filed in Washington, DC, last week by 13 Palestinian and American activists accuses US President Donald Trump and his Middle East adviser Jared Kushner of violating Palestinian civil and human rights.
Also named in the suit are Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu; New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo; Miriam Adelson, the wife of billionaire settler financier Sheldon Adelson; Israeli lobby group the The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC); and 13 others.
Attorney Martin McMahon said the action targets Trump’s “Deal of the Century,” along with laws introduced in 28 American states that illegally deny Americans the right to boycott Israel.
Filed on behalf of 13 plaintiffs, including Palestinians living in America and in occupied Palestine, the lawsuit argues they were stripped of their legal and civil rights not only Israel but by American officials and activists empowered by a biased media and political system.
“I know the system in this country is biased against Palestinian rights, but I also know that the rule of law defends those rights,” McMahon told Arab News. “With the power of the rule of law, we will prevail.”
McMahon’s lawsuit was filed during African American heritage month, which recognizes the civil rights struggles of black Americans who were enslaved and segregated under illegal laws and policies that stripped them of land rights, denied them citizenship and treated them as second-class citizens. These are all crimes that Palestinians are subjected to inside and outside of Israel as a result of American financial and political support.
“The Palestinian cause is very similar to the legal fight by African Americans and by Native Americans,” said McMahon.
“The Nuremberg Trials of 1945 defined that war crimes were illegal, and that wanton destruction of property, extrajudicial killings, collective punishment and land theft are war crimes that fall under the umbrage of the Alien Tort Statute, which is what we use to defend these victims. There is no statute of limitations on these kinds of crimes.”
The Alien Tort Statute is a US Federal law, adopted in 1789, that gives the federal courts jurisdiction to hear lawsuits filed by non-US citizens relating to actions committed in violation of international law.
McMahon confirmed that his 13 clients include American citizens and non-citizens who are living or lived under Israeli occupation. Among them are three members of the Dawabsheh family, including an infant, who were murdered in a July 2015 arson attack in Hebron by Israeli settlers. Several other family members were seriously injured.
Although the three Israeli Jewish arsonists were arrested, their actions were enabled by Israel’s government, the lawsuit argues.
The plaintiffs also include Palestinian activists Ahed Al-Tamimi, her father Bassim Al-Tamimi and their extended family, who have been harassed, beaten and jailed by Israeli forces in the village of Nabi Salih for protesting against Israel’s illegal policies. Their family lands were illegally confiscated by Israel.
Others are relatives of Abdul Rahman Barghouthi, who was murdered in Dec. 2016 by Israeli soldiers as he returned to his village, Aboud, near the Israeli settlement of Halamish. The Israeli media claimed Barghouthi attacked and injured an Israeli soldier but witnesses said he was killed in cold blood as a result of long-standing tensions between the village and the armed settlers.
McMahon explained that the lawsuit is based on four main principles.
“Since 1948, (the) defendants have denationalized and dehumanized the Palestinian population, discriminating against them and denying them their legal rights,” he said. “Individuals who contribute money or political support to this illegal system are accomplices. We are suing all of the Americans who have aided and abetted the denationalization of the Palestinian people.”
The second principle, he said, is that Americans have a right to choose to boycott Israel over its apartheid practices that violate international law. The third seeks to declare Netanyahu, who has been Israel’s prime minister for a total of 16 years, a war criminal based on his policies in Gaza and the West Bank.
The fourth principle, McMahon said, involves the illegality of the Trump administration’s “Deal of the Century,” which seeks to give Israel personal property and lands owned by Palestinians and occupied in conflict.
“That is illegal under both international law and American law,” he said. “And because Americans are engaged in this with Israelis, it makes them liable for these actions.”
McMahon said that despite the difficulty of challenging Israel in the pro-Israel American judicial system, he has had some success; most recently in a lawsuit filed in 2016 that also involves the Al-Tamimi family, American officials, and individuals and companies that have financed or support Israel’s illegal settlements.
“That lawsuit also addresses an injustice against the Palestinians, and it was initially thrown out by the Federal Court,” McMahon said. “But it was reinstated by the US Federal Appeals Court because we have the weight of the law on our side.”
McMahon said Jewish Americans have filed many lawsuits against Palestinian organizations and individuals asserting terrorism, violence and loss of property rights, but the time in which US courts only entertain pro-Israel lawsuits has ended.
“My law firm won’t sit back,” he said. “We will defend the legal rights of Palestinians or Americans. Anyone who feels they have been denied their rights should contact my office and I will include them in the lawsuit.”
The other 13 defendants in the lawsuit are AIPAC officials Brian Shankman and Howard Kohr, international attorney Gustaff Cardelius, US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, housing investor Daniel Gilbert, former Senate Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, Trump legal adviser and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Trump adviser Jason Greenblatt, New York City Council member Donald Hikind, former Arkansas Governor Michael Huckabee, Israel Defense Forces activist Susan Levin-Abir, former Palestinian terrorist and now celebrated pro-Israel advocate Walid Shoebat, and University of Haifa Chairman Dov Weissglas.
Copyright: Arab News © 2021 All rights reserved.