By Ray Hanania
Over the years, the relatives of Americans killed in protests against Israel’s confiscation of Palestinian land to build illegal Jewish settlements have filed dozens of wrongful death lawsuits against the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Palestine Authority in an effort to secure hundreds of millions of dollars in damages for the families and punish the Palestinian leadership.
The incidents included a bombing in a mall at the illegal Jewish settlement of Karni Shomron in 2002 in whichtwo teenagers died, and the killing of the radical settler activist Ari Yoel Fuld from the Efrat settlement outside Bethlehem in September 2018.
The lawsuits received much pro-Israel media coverage, especially when juries sympathetic to the one-sided pro-Israel narrative issued huge judgments in amounts running to hundreds of millions of dollars.
But each time these jury verdicts were challenged, they were thrown out by higher courts. Why? Because they failed to meet the minimum requirements of the rule of law. The plaintiffs’ lawyers simply assume that in America, where most news media is pro-Israel and has nurtured a sympathy for Israelis based on falsehoods and lies, juries would rule in their favor.
Arabs, and especially Palestinians, are routinely vilified in false news media reports, in false and one-sided statements by politicians, and in false and misleading lawsuits, not one of which deserved to make it to a jury trial.
Of course, Israel does not live by the rule of law, or by any of the many treaties and international covenants that protect civilians from government violence and which other democracies embrace, such as the Fourth Geneva Convention.
No. Israel’s government has its own rules — one for Jews and another for non-Jews.
These lawsuits would have been thrown out in every jurisdiction except the US, where pro-Israel propaganda has the mainstream news media, politicians and even many judges in a political headlock, bullied by exaggerated and false claims of anti-Semitism.
One reason the lawsuits were dismissed had to do with the absence of facts. While certainly the victims were all killed as a result of violent attacks, those attacks often came in a larger context of Israeli violence, Israeli oppression, and the deaths of Palestinians, circumstances never addressed in the lawsuits.
Lawyers for the victims also had a problem forcing the defendants, the Palestinians, to accept that they were responsible. The PLO and PNA have argued there were not directly responsible for the actions of individuals who were provoked to violence by Israel’s own violence and brutality from the occupation.
The US Congress passed a law introduced by former President Donald Trump, which applied only to lawsuits against Palestinians, and declared that the “defendant shall be deemed to have consented to personal jurisdiction.” In other words, Congress set aside the rule of law and the US Constitution, and automatically made any Palestinian entity or group responsible for random acts of violence committed by individuals.
Fortunately, some American judges do uphold the rule of law and the US Constitution. One judge, overturning a jury verdict against the PLO over the death of a Jewish settler, observed: “A defendant’s knowing and voluntary consent is a valid basis to subject it to the jurisdiction of a court, but Congress cannot simply declare anything it wants to be consent. To hold otherwise would let fiction get the better of fact and make a mockery of due process.”
When faced with a biased campaign to demonize the Palestinian people and their just claims against the government of Israel, which encourages Jews from around the world to come to occupied Palestine and settle on stolen land, the rule of law always has the last word.