American Branch of Legal Association to Host BDS Advocates at Annual Conference
The American Branch of the International Law Association (ABILA), an international scholarly legal organization, will host a panel entitled “Racism and the Crime of Apartheid in International Law,” featuring three speakers who hold anti-Zionist views.
The panel will take place on Oct. 22 at ABILA annual conference, held in New York at Fordham University Law School. Top law firms including White & Case LLP will be in attendance along with representatives from The New York City Bar Association.
One panelist, Omar Shakir, a director of Human Rights Watch, is an advocate of the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement. As recently as 2015, he signed a letter calling for “honoring the BDS call.”
Another speaker, Yale University alumna and United Nations expert E. Tendayi Achiume, accused Israel in April of creating “racially segregated settlements” in the West Bank. In 2018, she disputed the legality of Israel’s status as a Jewish homeland, arguing that it “offers a legal basis for the preeminence of Jewish people over non-Jewish citizens” and violates human rights.
Victor Kattan, whose work has denied the legitimacy of the Jewish state, is also a member of the panel. In his 2009 book titled, “From Coexistence to Conquest: International Law and the Origins of the Arab-Israeli Conflict,” he charged that the Jewish state is illegal. “There is nothing in the text of the British Mandate that gave the Jewish people a right to break away and create a Jewish state,” he wrote.
Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting and Analysis senior analyst David M. Litman described the panel as “a one-sided display of hateful propaganda,” noting that its speakers do not represent the entire spectrum of views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“Purveyors of the apartheid canard unsurprisingly seek to avoid debate, given the flimsiness of their claims,” he told The Algemeiner. “What is shocking is that respectable law associations and firms, which should be the first to understand the importance of vigorous debate, would enable it.”
The panel description on ABILA’s website originally accused Israel of practicing apartheid and equating Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians to the Chinese government’s policies towards the Uyghurs.
“From Myanmar’s abuses of Rohingya Muslims in the Rakhine State, to the Israeli authorities’ systematic oppression of Palestinians, to the Chinese government’s actions in Xinxiang against the Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims, human rights organizations, UN bodies, experts, and scholars have concluded that the crime of apartheid is being committed with impunity,” it said.
But ABILA then altered the description, deleting language specifically accusing Israel of apartheid. The event’s description now says: “today, contexts across the world, human rights organizations, U.N. bodies, experts, and scholars have concluded that the crime of apartheid is being committed with impunity.”
ABILA did respond to The Algemeiner’s request for comment.