An anti-Israel demonstration. (AP/Michel Euler) (AP/Michel Euler)
anti-Israel demonstration

The National Lawyers Guild is being sued for discriminating against an Israeli organization purely on the basis of nationality, in breach of New York law.

By: United with Israel Staff

A lawsuit against the National Lawyers Guild (NLG), alleging that the organization discriminated against an Israeli organization purely on the basis of nationality, is currently making its way through the New York Supreme Court.

The groundbreaking suit is the first to argue that New York State’s Human Rights Law, specifically its anti-boycott provision, prohibits BDS-motivated (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) commercial discrimination.

In June 2016, the NLG refused a $200 offer from the Bibliotechnical Athenaeum to place an advertisement in their Annual Banquet dinner journal on the grounds that they “have a resolution barring us from accepting funds from Israeli organizations,” the Jewish Journal reported.

The Israeli organization countered by filing suit against the NLG, arguing that the refusal amounted to discrimination in public accommodation.

The NLG’s subsequent motion to dismiss the lawsuit was denied, but the plaintiff nonetheless filed an amended complaint, adding claims based on New York City and State prohibitions against discriminatory boycotts.

The Lawfare Project, a legal think tank and defender of civil rights, is representing the plaintiff, and is collaborating in this matter with attorney David Abrams of the Zionist Advocacy Center.

“It is appalling that an organization like the National Lawyers Guild, which claims to support individuals who are being deprived of their civil rights or liberties, would deny anyone the ability to place a congratulatory ad purely on the grounds of nationality, or any other innate characteristic,” said The Lawfare Project’s Chief Operating Officer and counsel for the plaintiff, Benjamin Ryberg.

Hypocritical Act of Discrimination

“This hypocritical act of discrimination is a clear violation of New York City and State human rights laws. This case sends a powerful message that bigotry has no place in the great State of New York,” Ryberg added.

Brooke Goldstein, Executive Director of The Lawfare Project, said that “if the NLG had similarly said, ‘Unfortunately, it is our policy not to do business with Chinese organizations,’ or ‘We have a resolution against accepting funds from African organizations,’ we would rightly be outraged. Where is the same outrage when it comes to unlawful commercial discrimination against Israelis and Jews?”

The National Lawyers Guild, which calls itself the progressive alternative to the American Bar Association (ABA), has thousands of members in chapters across the country. Founded in 1937, the Guild is the oldest and largest progressive bar association, with a network of public interest and human rights lawyers, jurists, and activists around the country.

It also has a well-documented history of singling out Israel in national resolutions and supporting anti-Israel activities. In May of 2017, two members of the NLG chapter at University of California Irvine attended an anti-Israel protest as purportedly neutral “legal observers” but apparently failed to report the anti-Semitic shouts of demonstrators, as recounted by witnesses to the incident.

The NLG has a “Palestine Subcommittee” which “advocates for justice in Palestine, organizes delegations, provides legal support to BDS movements, works to support Palestinian political prisoners, and works to implement Palestinian rights.”

In 2014, the NLG called for the Obama administration to face charges of war crimes for funding Israel’s Iron Dome.

Alan Dershowitz criticized the NLG in September 2014 as being “the sworn enemy of Israel and the legal arm of Palestinian terrorism since the early 1970s following the Soviet Union’s switch from supporting Israel to opposing it.”

“The National Lawyers Guild has lost most of its lawyers since that time and has instead filled its membership roles with paralegals, amateur investigators and other assorted ‘legal workers,’” wrote Dershowitz.  “It has no credibility in the legal profession and even some of its anti-Zionist members have recently quit, calling its policies regarding Israel ‘crazy,’ ‘irresponsible,’ and ‘bigoted.’”