Sunday, 13 April 2014

Olympia Co-op lawfare case backfires as court fines anti-boycott plaintiffs


Anti-boycott campaigners in Washington state were dealt a significant — and expensive — court defeat yesterday.

The Washington State Court of Appeals upheld a 2012 ruling that affirmed the dismissal of a frivolous lawsuit against board members of the Olympia Food Co-op for their 2011 decision to boycott Israeli goods and products. The co-op was the first US grocery store to adopt and implement a consumer boycott of Israeli goods.

The lawsuit, filed by individuals in collusion with national anti-Palestinian organization StandWithUs, attempted to force co-op board members into rescinding their decision to implement the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel.

They are now mandated to pay $160,000 in statutory damages — $10,000 to each of the 16 co-op board members — as well as other legal fees.

“Those who would try to intimidate concerned citizens speaking out on behalf of Palestinian human rights should take note,” said Maria LaHood, senior staff attorney with the Center for Constitutional Rights, in a press release.

“The law and history are on the side of peaceful boycotts for social change, and today’s ruling reaffirms that this time-honored tradition is protected by the First Amendment. Instead of trying to suppress speech calling for Palestinian human rights, opponents should address such speech on the merits,” she added. more