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Israeli university, arms company hold hasbara hackathon in Haifa

MEMO | August 16, 2016

An Israeli university has hosted a hasbara hackathon, which saw students gather to create ways to improve Israel’s image and undermine the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign.

The ‘iHack’ event, held at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, is the latest example of Israeli students and institutions of higher education enlisting themselves in Israel’s global PR offensive.

According to organisers, the event sought to “bring together a community of creative, technical and passionate individuals to work together in teams to create media, content, campaigns, and apps for Israel advocacy.”

The goal was “developing products to promote” three objectives: “making Israel advocacy more accessible to the public”; “countering the BDS movement”; and “positively branding Israel.”

The Technion students behind the project are all part of the ‘Israel Fellowship’ scheme run by Israel advocacy organisation StandWithUs.

The hackathon was run with the help of think-tank the Reut Institute. According to Reut, “the aim is to enhance and develop tools which can be used by activists and organizations fighting against the BDS Campaign and Israel’s delegitimization across the world.”

According to a report in The Jerusalem Post, the Technion-hosted event was also held in collaboration with arms company Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, as well as “the Student Union and the Entrepreneurship Centre of the Technion.”

The director of public diplomacy at Israel’s Strategic Affairs and Public Diplomacy Ministry was also in attendance.

Rafael provided 20 employees as “mentors”, along with “other experts in the fields of software and engineering, political science, marketing and graphic design.”

Under the direction of Rafael employee ‘Ezra’ (“whose last name was withheld”), one group created a “diplomatic Iron Dome.” According to the paper, “the team envisioned anti-Israel expression as the missile, and their app as the Iron Dome that must intercept it.”

August 16, 2016 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , | Leave a comment

Judge throws out Israel-backed lawsuit against Olympia Food Co-op, upholds right to boycott

By Ali Abunimah – The Electronic Intifada – 02/27/2012

In a major setback for Israeli efforts to suppress the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement in the United States, a judge in Olympia, Washington today dismissed a lawsuit designed to force the Olympia Food Co-op to rescind its boycott of Israeli goods.

The judge ruled that the lawsuit, brought by opponents of the boycott, violated a Washington State law designed to prevent abusive lawsuits aimed at suppressing lawful public participation. The court said it would award the defendants attorneys’ fees, costs, and levy sanctions against the plaintiffs.

While the lawsuit was brought by several individuals against present and former members of the Olympia Food Co-op Board, it was planned in collusion with StandWithUs, a national anti-Palestinian organization, working with the Israeli government, an Electronic Intifada investigation revealed last September.

“SLAPP” lawsuit designed to chill free speech

The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), whose lawyers acted for the Olympia Food Co-op argued that the lawsuit was an example of “SLAPP” – Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation. In a statement this afternoon, CCR explained:

SLAPPs are lawsuits that target the constitutional rights of free speech and petition in connection with an issue of public concern  Although many cases that qualify as SLAPPs are without legal merit, they can nonetheless effectively achieve their primary purpose: to chill public debate on specific issues. Defending against a SLAPP requires substantial money, time, and legal resources, and can divert attention away from the public issue and intimidate and silence other speakers. Washington State’s Anti-SLAPP statute was enacted in 2010 to deter such lawsuits.

Today, Thurston County Superior Court Judge Thomas McPhee told a packed courtroom he agreed with that analysis and dismissed the lawsuit, ordering the StandWithUs-backed plaintiffs to pay court costs and legal fees.

The judge also also upheld the constitutionality of Washington’s anti-SLAPP law, which the plaintiffs had challenged, CCR noted. Each of the defendants in the case could be entitled to receive up to $10,000 from the plaintiffs in addition to legal fees.

“We are pleased the Court found this case to be what it is – an attempt to chill free speech on a matter of public concern.  This sends a message to those trying to silence support of Palestinian human rights to think twice before they bring a lawsuit,” CCR quoted Maria LaHood, a senior staff attorney as saying.

BDS is a national movement, judge finds

In attempting to overturn the Olympia Food Co-op’s boycott of Israeli goods, the plaintiffs had argued that the Co-op could only observe “nationally-recognized” boycotts, and that BDS did not fit that description.

According to live tweets of the judge’s statement by Anna-Marie Murano, on behalf of the Palestine Freedom Project the judge found that BDS was “nationally recognized.”

CCR Statement in full

February 27, 2012 Posted by | Solidarity and Activism, Timeless or most popular | , , , | 2 Comments