The Lawfare Project (LP) is a legal think tank that facilitates litigation and other legal actions to protect the civil and human rights of the pro-human rights and counterterrorism communities, halt the funding of terrorism, and combat the persistent abuses of U.S. and international legal systems by those who oppose democracy and freedom. Since its inception in 2010, LP has operated akin to a public interest law firm to combat lawfare—the abuse of the law as a weapon of war against Western democracy. In addition to hosting educational events for the press and public, publishing analysis, and ensuring the lawfare threat receives broad media exposure, LP continues to provide a wide range of free legal services to the community, fund counter-lawfare cases, and secure legal counsel for lawfare victims. We lead collaborative initiatives to combat lawfare and fight for human and civil rights around the globe.
LP has had many significant accomplishments over the past five years, a small sampling of which is listed below:
Combatting International Commercial Discrimination:
- The Lawfare Project secured an enormous victory in the fight against commercial discrimination and bigotry by forcing Kuwait Airways to choose between enormous revenue losses, or stopping their worldwide national origin discrimination. We drafted a comprehensive analysis of the potential liability of Kuwait Airways Corporation (KAC) and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey due to KAC’s discrimination against Israeli passport holders at United States airports, including JFK International Airport in New York. KAC is violating a host of state and federal anti-discrimination and anti-boycott laws in refusing to sell tickets to Israeli nationals on the basis of their national origin and/or ethnicity, and the Port Authority may be held liable as KAC’s landlord. We sent a letter attaching our legal analysis to Anthony Foxx, United States Secretary of Transportation, and based on this communication, Secretary Foxx determined that KAC is, in fact, violating U.S. law. His analysis and conclusions mirrored those made in our letter and memo. The Port Authority then called on Kuwait Airways to abide by federal discrimination laws or risk a termination of the lease. In response, Kuwait Airways cancelled its JFK—LHR flight, losing millions of dollars in revenue.
Preempting Corporate BDS in the U.S. and E.U.:
- The LP updates and distributes the most comprehensive analysis of state, federal and EU laws and regulations that prohibit boycotts and other commercial practices that discriminate based on ethnicity and national origin. Corporate counsel of multinational businesses being pressured to implement discriminatory BDS practices have used this analysis to deter BDS advocacy and resolutions and protect the corporation from associated liability.
- The LP commissioned an esteemed attorney in Brussels to provide us with analysis of applicable European Union laws enacted to punish and prohibit discriminatory boycotts and divestment as advocated by the BDS Movement. Incorporated into our U.S. memo, this document is the go-to guide for international corporations and other business interests facing discriminatory BDS pressure.
- The LP provides pro bono counsel to small and large corporations with regard to the legal liabilities they would face under state and federal law if they engaged in BDS activity. Our counsel has successfully stopped pro-BDS votes at numerous corporations. LP Director of Research Benjamin Ryberg was the first person to apply New York’s Human Rights Law, which prohibits boycotts and other discriminatory business conduct based on the target’s national origin, in the BDS context.
- The LP wrote an open letter to the leadership of a labor union that adopted a resolution endorsing the BDS movement and its hateful and discriminatory goals and activities. We thought it critical that we respond publicly with the truth about BDS and call attention to the hypocrisy of any labor association taking a pro-BDS position. We will continue to combat BDS wherever it manifests, and to remind any organization and/or association considering BDS advocacy of the potential legal consequences of such action.
Production of Pro-Human Rights Materials: We create and produce original content for distribution, including educational videos and handbooks. Our “Save Speech” video received more than 30,000 hits. Our documentary, “Camp Jihad,” was played for Secretary of State John Kerry by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Camp Jihad documents the radicalization and incitement of children at schools and camps administered by UNRWA (United Nations Relief Works Agency).
Shutting Down Terror TV: The LP discovered that two U.S.-based companies, Al Manar and Al Aqsa TV, were unlawfully broadcasting Hamas and Hezbollah TV in the U.S. We delivered a legal memo to law enforcement analyzing the potential criminal liability of these companies. A criminal investigation ensued and both networks were banned from broadcasting.
Defeating Terror Sponsors: After a warning by the LP of liability that would ensue under federal laws prohibiting the provision of material support to terrorism, Rutgers University ceased the funding of pro-flotilla groups US2GAZA, Baka and Code Pink, which the LP demonstrated to be connected to Hamas. The school then withheld the funds.
Submissions to U.S. Supreme Court: The Lawfare Project filed an amicus curiae brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of MBZ v. Clinton (“Jerusalem Passport case”) arguing to uphold the right of an Israeli-born American citizen to list “Jerusalem, Israel” on his passport as his place of birth.
Defunding Hate Education: The LP briefed members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on violations of U.S. law stemming from unbridled funding of United Nations Relief Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), including calling for the inclusion of an audit requirement in UNRWA funding legislation—which was subsequently added.
War Crimes: The United Nations Independent Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 Gaza Conflict requested submissions relevant to its mandate of investigating violations of the laws of armed conflict. Further to this request, The Lawfare Project submitted its investigative report “Hamas’s Violations of International Law,” detailing specific instances of violations relevant to the Commission’s efforts. Our report was groundbreaking in that its key were based on the application of Customary International Humanitarian Law (CIHL), which is distinct from treaty law in that it can be applied to non-state actors and non-signatories like Hamas. CIHL is universally applicable, and our unique approach to the analysis of laws of war violations has received significant praise from legal experts, organizations, and members of government. The Lawfare Project received communication from the Secretariat of the Commission of Inquiry confirming that the report was received and would be considered in the Commission’s analysis.
Media and Public Education: We publish widely, hold numerous events to educate the public on the lawfare threat, and appear frequently on major media networks to discuss pressing issues of national security, terrorism, and Israel. You can view a full list of publications and appearances here and here.