The European Legal Support Center (ELSC) contributes to the Pro-Palestinian Lawfare in Europe. The organisation shows remarkable links to both terrorist- and antisemitic organisations. Also ELSC is reflecting a complete lack of transparency and accountability.
NGO Monitor about ELSC:
ELSC does not publish any financial data, donor information, or sources of funding, reflecting a complete lack of transparency and accountability.
According to ELSC’s annual report, “The first year of operation of the ELSC was made possible by individuals who provided generous seed funding because they understand and support our mission.”
The European Legal Support Center (ELSC) was jointly founded by the Rights Forum, the Palestinian NGO Network (PNGO), and European jurists as an initiative aimed at “defending individuals and organizations that face false and defamatory accusations of antisemitism and repression because of their support for Palestinian rights and particularly for BDS measures to achieve these rights.
”PNGO is an umbrella organization comprising 142 Palestinian NGO member organizations, many of which support BDS campaigns and have ties to the PFLP terror group. In January 2020, PNGO vehemently opposed a new clause in European Union grant contracts with Palestinian NGOs that prohibits grantees from working with and funding organizations and individuals designated on the EU’s terror lists. PNGO claimed that Palestinian terrorist organizations are “political parties.
”Multiple PNGO officials have ties to terrorist organizations, and at least five PNGO members have ties to EU-designated terror organizations, including through their employees and/or board members who are directly involved in activities and programs.Walid Hanatsheh (Abu Ras) is listed as a PNGO board member on behalf of a PFLP-linked NGO, Health Work Committees (HWC), and is the HWC finance and administration manager. Hanatsheh was arrested in October 2019 for participating in a terrorist attack in which a 17-year old was murdered. According to an Israeli media report, Hanatsheh bankrolled the bombing.
Shatha Odeh, PNGO’s head of the board and head of PNGO’s Coordinating Committee, also serves as CEO of HWC, an organization with ties to the PFLP.
Mohsen Abu Ramadan, PNGO’s former director in Gaza and former member of PNGO’s General Assembly, is a member of the Palestinian Democratic Assembly, an organization that unites the PFLP and the DFLP terror groups under one umbrella. Abu Ramadan is also referred to as “member of the coordination committee for the right of return marches.”
The Rights Forum lobbies government officials, engages in “fact-finding missions,” sends briefings to the Dutch parliament alleging Israeli violations of human rights, publishes reports, and attempts to influence Dutch and EU policy.
ELSC’s mission and work are “coordinate[d] with Palestine Legal in the US with the aim of complementing each other’s efforts and amplifying impacts.”Palestine Legal is highly active in BDS campaigns, particularly on college and university campuses throughout the United States.
One of ELSC’s goals is “challenging the growing international consensus around the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) antisemitism definition.” According to ELSC, it aims to defend “activists and institutions against false and defamatory accusations of antisemitism… including legal challenges of the validity of the IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism.”The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism, adopted by more than 30 countries and counting, represents the international consensus definition of antisemitism, as well as how to distinguish between legitimate criticism of Israel and antisemitism. An example of the latter includes denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.
ELSC claims to be “developing legal strategies and tools for the defence against de-funding and ‘de-platforming’ together with partner NGOs, lawyers and experts in this field.” It “carries out research to support activists and lawyers in European countries such as The Netherlands, UK, France, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy and Spain.”
ELSC has provided legal research and support to European organizations seeking to prohibit trade with Israeli settlements.
In April 2021, ELSC “assisted” Dutch NGO DocP in a legal campaign to “correctly label products that were made in illegal Israeli settlements and to stop their import and sale in The Netherlands.”
In April 2020, ELSC was a signatory on a letter to International Criminal Court Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, stating it is “Time to Investigate Crimes in Palestine, Time for Justice” and calling for “perpetrators of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Palestine must be held accountable.”
In February 2020, after the European Union introduced a new requirement in grant contracts with Palestinian NGOs that prohibits grantees from working with and funding organizations and individuals designated on the EU’s terror lists, ELSC “provided assistance” to PNGO, which was fighting the requirement, and sent “letter of objection” stating that the EU conditional funding does not apply to Palestinian NGOs.
ELSC hosts “legal workshops” and seminars for “Palestine solidarity committees and student campaigners.”
In May 2022, ELSC was a signatory on a flagrantly antisemitic report submitted to the UN HRC’s Commission of Inquiry which was established to “investigate” crimes allegedly committed by Israel since April 13, 2021. The submission called to “Recognise and Address Zionist Settler Colonialism and Apartheid as the Root Causes of Israel’s Ongoing Violations.” The submission presented a blatantly false historical account that denied Israel’s right to exist, categorized Israel’s very existence as illegal, and labeled Zionism as a form of racism.
In January 2022, ELSC published a press release condemning the decision of the Dutch government to cease funding to the Union of Agricultural Works Committee (UAWC) due to its ties to the PFLP. According to ELSC, “By doing so, the Dutch government neglects its policy of supporting human rights defenders, thus enabling the efforts to repress Palestinian civil society by the Israeli Government and the disinformation groups it works with…it is undisputable that the termination of Dutch funding for UAWC’s projects will have tremendous repercussions on Palestinians. It will encourage Israel’s illegal settlements enterprise and facilitate Israel’s de facto annexation of the Palestinian territory.”UAWC is identified by Fatah as an official PFLP “affiliate,” and by USAIDas the “agricultural arm” of the PFLP. According to academic scholar Glenn E. Robinson, UAWC was founded in 1986 by “agronomists loosely affiliated with the PFLP.” On October 22, 2021, the Israeli Ministry of Defense declared UAWC a “terror organization” because it is part of “a network of organizations” that operates “on behalf of the ‘Popular Front’.” For more information on UAWC’s PFLP ties, read NGO Monitor’s report “Union of Agricultural Work Committees Ties to the PFLP Terror Group.”
In November 2021, ELSC was a signatory on a letter to the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs condemning the decision by the Israeli Ministry to designate six Palestinian NGOs as terrorist organizations. The letter called for the EU to “clearly reject the Israeli allegations and question their legitimacy, publicly renew your confidence in these human rights organisations, which are doing remarkable and indispensable work on the ground… [and] publicly and financially support the action of the ICC including the case for Palestine.”
In September 2021, ELSC participated in a webinar titled “Resisting the IHRA Definition.” The webinar was timed to coincide with the launching of a campaign titled “No to the IHRA definition,” which “aims to give activists and campaigners the information and tools needed to resist or push back against the adoption of the IHRA definition of antisemitism in various settings across the UK, including within universities and local councils.”The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism, adopted by more than 30 countries and counting, represents the international consensus definition of antisemitism, as well as how to distinguish between legitimate criticism of Israel and antisemitism. An example of the latter includes denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.
ELSC work to provide assistance to individuals and organizations “that face false and defamatory accusations of antisemitism and repression because of their support for Palestinian rights and particularly for BDS measures to achieve these rights.“
In September 2021, ELSC participated in a campaign titled “Don’t Buy into Occupation Coalition.” As part of the campaign, the coalition of NGOs published a report alleging to “investigate and expose the financial relationships between businesses involved in the illegal Israeli settlement enterprise in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) and European Financial Institutions (FIs).” The report called for European governments to “prohibit the import of illegal settlement products and services from entering European markets, and ban trade with and economic support for illegal Israeli settlements.”Other pro-BDS NGOs involved in the campaign include Al-Haq, Association France Palestine Solidarité (AFPS), Trocaire, International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA), and The Rights Forum.
In August 2021, ELSC signed a letter to the States Parties to the Arms Trade Treaty calling to “put an end to Israel’s notorious use of arms and military equipment…by immediately imposing a comprehensive two-way arms embargo on Israel.” According to the letter, “This systematic brutality, perpetrated throughout the past seven decades of Israel’s colonialism, apartheid, pro-longed illegal belligerent occupation, persecution, and closure, is only possible because of the complicity of some governments and corporations around the world.”
In 2019, ELSC was active in German courts arguing that “denial of public spaces, based on motions that condemn the BDS movement as antisemitic, violates the constitutional rights to equality and freedom of expression and assembly.”In March 2019, ELSC submitted a legal memo to the Higher Administrative Court of Lower Saxony against the “denial of public space by the City of Oldenburg for public debates during the Palestine solidarity movement’s 2019 Israeli Apartheid Week.”
In September 2019, ELSC fought against a ruling in the Administrative Court of Cologne that “sought to exclude the German-Palestinian Women’s Association, the Palestinian Community-Bonn and the German Palestinian Society from the City’s annual cultural festival because of affiliation with the BDS movement.”
In December 2019, ELSC assisted in a case in Spain that aimed to “defend the right of the City of Cadiz to endorse the BDS movement’s ‘Apartheid Free Zones Campaign’.”
A Spanish court had previously ruled that Cadiz’s cancellation of an Israeli film festival because of BDS violated the country’s constitution.
In 2019, following the European Court of Justice’s decision to apply a discriminatory labelling regime on products originating in Israeli settlements, ELSC prepared a legal memo on “investigating ways for improving consumer information about the illegality of the Israeli settlements and for extending the labelling obligation beyond goods to services, including advertisement of tourism offers in illegal settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory.”
In 2019, ELSC initiated research for the “exclusion of Egged Group and its subsidiaries from public transport tendering in The Netherlands under international, EU and Dutch law” due to Egged’s alleged involvement in “Israel’s illegal settlements and human rights abuses.”
In 2018, Giovanni Fassina, ELSC coordinator, wrote an article for Al-Marsad on “Israeli Oil Exploration in the Occupied Syrian Golan.”
Ingrid Jaradat (PNGO) is a member of ELSC’s steering committee. Jaradat is the former director of BADIL and a major BDS activist. In a July 2013 article on “How to Make International Law Work for Palestinians,” Jaradat rejects “peace diplomacy based on the Oslo framework,” the “so-called land for peace formula,” and existing international law, claiming that they “cover up the ongoing Israeli colonization, confiscation and annexation of Palestinian land and oppression of the Palestinian people” and force Palestinians “to recognize the status quo Israel has created in the part of Palestine it conquered in 1948.”
Members of ELSC’s Advisory board include:Valentina Azarova is the legal advisor to the Global Legal Action Network (GLAN), an Irish pro-BDS organization. GLAN “led” the “drafting process” of the Irish “Control of Economic Activity (Occupied territories)” bill, which would make it illegal for Irish citizens and residents to import or sell “settlement goods” or to provide or attempt to provide “settlement services.”
Liesbeth Zegveld is an attorney and Rights Forum board member. In June 2017, attempted to file a civil lawsuit in a Dutch court against former Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Benny Gantz and Israel Air Force Commander Amir Eshel, accusing them of war crimes.
Fanny Michaela Reisin is the former President of the international League for Human Rights (FIDH). FIDH engages in “lawfare,” supports BDS campaigns, and abuses its reputation as a human rights organization to condemn Israel in a variety of international forums.
Karma Nabulsi is a Former Adviser to the PLO.
Norman Paech is a Former Member of the German Parliament from the far-left Die Linke party.
ELSC partners with Dutch NGOs A Different Jewish Voice (EAJG) and The Public Interest Litigation Project (PILP), “a project by the Dutch section of the International Commission of Jurists (NJCM).”