Sharon and US defense
By Barbara Ferguson,
Arab News Correspondent
21 July 2002
A Washington-based human rights group filed a lawsuit this week
against Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, President George Bush,
Secretary of State Colin Powell and United States defense contractors
as well as some Christian and Jewish organizations that are financially
supporting the development of an illegal settlements in the Palestinian
The suit was filed for punitive damages and injunctive relief specifically
demanding that the president and the secretary of state "cease
providing military assistance to Israel until they have reported
to Congress the misuse of American military assistance by Israel,"
as required under the Arms Export Control Act of 1976 on behalf
of 21 Palestinians, most of them United States citizens.
"These plaintiffs are not militants even by Israels
definition. None committed any crimes, before their houses were
destroyed, killed, or assaulted.... ," said Attorney Stanley
Cohen, who filed the lawsuit this week for Solidarity International
for Human Rights, a non-profit Palestinian-American organization
based in Washington.
The suit claims that "the state of Israel and its allies have
engaged in genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, extra
judicial killings, torture, arbitrary arrest and detention, wrongful
death, battery, assault, false imprisonment, intentional infliction
of emotional distress, negligence per se, trespass, and conversion
during the massacres of Sabra and Shatila refugee camps from Sept.
16-18, 1982 until what is occurring to the present day."
Cohen, head of Solidaritys team of lawyers, said the state
of Israel has continued its assault against the Palestinian people
and is the leading "sponsor of terrorism" in the world
In addition, he added, "the plaintiffs have suffered significant
losses of life (of loved ones), limb, family, or property as a result
of the continuing illegal acts of Israel and its armed forces or
settler populations in the Occupied Territories, and in Sabra-Shatila
twenty years earlier."
Cohen, who filed the a 140-page complaint in the United States
District Court for the District of Columbia, said the significance
of the lawsuit "is that it challenges the notion that the Western
world always lives by the rule of law even while it has remained
silent regarding the atrocities against the Palestinians."
The suit is not a class action, but Solidarity and Cohen say they
plan to soon seek class action status on behalf of all the plaintiffs
next month. The current plaintiffs are individual United States
citizens or resident aliens, all of whom are Palestinian-Americans.
According to Solidarity, the plaintiffs claims arise out of torture,
killing, and destruction of property by and with the support of
the Israeli and United States governments, named leaders of these
governments, named military corporations, named organizations, including
one Israeli settlement and one Christian church, and named individual
Among the defendants are the state of Israel, Ariel Sharon, Natan
Sharanski, Shimon Peres, George Bush, Colin Powell, the Boeing Company,
McDonnell Douglas Helicopter Systems, the Halamish/Neve Settlement,
Christ Lutheran Church, Central Fund for Israel, Rabbi Yosef Adler,
Arnon Hiller, Joav Merrick, Ruth Kohn, Jay Marcus (the last eight
of which are designated collectively as the "Settler Defendants").
In response to the expected filing, the Israeli Knesset passed
a bill this week to protect Israel, its leaders and citizens from
being subject to legal penalties based on any actions related to
the Palestinians. They defined military actions as wide enough to
encompass any activity in Palestinian areas including home demolitions,
building roads, confiscating lands, bulldozing trees, and injuring
or killing civilians (regardless of circumstances).
"Israels response is interesting for two reasons,"
Cohen told Arab News yesterday in a telephone interview. "First,
they have always deemed themselves above the law when it comes to
the rights of Palestinians, and immune from suit by Palestinians
for damages in the Occupied Territories.
"As a matter of law, it is interesting, because prior to this
bill, the existing law pretty much gave them carte blanche to do
what they wanted," said Cohen. "Finally, it really doesnt
matter what they do in term of their protection in Israel, that
law doesnt apply in the US. The fact that they say that they
are immune from suit against Palestinians, relative to the Intifada,
may apply in Israel, but it doesnt stop a US court from finding,
to the contrary."
The plaintiffs are being allowed to file under pseudonyms, Cohen
said. "The judge has granted the motion, which means that he
met our burden of proof that these people, if named, could have
faced retaliation by the IDF in the territories."
Cohen said they also plan on bringing an action asking the court
to freeze the weapons delivered from the US to Israel. "Their
helicopters, their jets, their F-16s. We think we have the
law on our side."
The suit has been filed and to that end I will attach our most
recent press release.While the current media response has been not
been great we have received lots of support in lots of places. We
will have a web site up and running in about ten days or so which
will permit you to get copies of all our pleadings and info on how
to help. In the meanwhile just spreading the word will help much.
Thanks for your interest and support,
Stanley L. Cohen
Law Offices of Stanley L. Cohen
Fax (212) 995-5574
COURT GRANTS PALESTINIAN PLAINTIFFS IN LAWSUIT AGAINST
ISRAEL AND THE UNITED STATES THEIR FIRST VICTORY: THEY CAN PROCEED
WITH THE SUIT ANONYMOUSLY.
A federal judge in Washington, D.C. decided today that Palestinian-Americans
who are suing Israel, Ariel Sharon and others can proceed with the
lawsuit by using pseudonyms instead of their real names.
Lead counsel, Stanley Cohen, had argued successfully that the plaintiffs
and their witnesses had a well founded fear of retaliation including
injury and death by the IDF if Israel learned the identity of the
persons bringing the suit.
In a statement issued earlier today Mr. Cohen said that he was
pleased that the Court "recognized that the plight of Palestinians
in the Occupied Territories was so difficult and their lives so
vulnerable at the hands of the IDF that their identities needed
to be protected in order to pursue their rights in a U.S. Court."
The lawsuit was brought several days ago on behalf of a class of
Palestinian Americans against some three defendants including Israel
and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, President George Bush and Secretary
of State Colin Powell, several arms manufacturers in the United
States and a number of U.S. based churches and synagogues that have
supported settlements in the West Bank.
In this suit the plaintiffs seek damages and injunctive relief
for, among other things, genocide, crimes against humanity, war
crimes and racketeering dating back as far as the massacre at Sabra
and Shatila in Lebanon through the current Intifada.
The plaintiffs include Palestinian Americans who have been killed,
injured, and tortured; who have been denied medical treatment; whose
businesses and homes have been destroyed and whose homes and lands
have been taken to establish illegal settlements in Palestine.
For further information contact the Law Offices of Stanley Cohen.