US court tosses Palestinian suit against businessmen supporting IDF, settlements
$1 billion lawsuit targeted individuals, organizations and institutions that provide services to the IDF or otherwise support Israeli ventures in the West Bank, including Sheldon Adelson, Haim Saban, Bank Leumi, and Motorola.
A US court has thrown out a billion-dollar lawsuit aimed at slashing funding to Israeli charities and institutions in the West Bank, ruling these organizations comply with Treasury Department regulations for non-profit status and noting the attempt to block funding was a political question that is outside the jurisdiction of the courts.
The suit, Al-Tamimi v. Adelson, charged 49 defendants—including philanthropist Sheldon Adelson, Texas Pastor John Hagee, media mogul Haim Saban, non-profits such as the Hebron Fund and corporate entities such as Bank Leumi, Motorola and other companies that provide services to the IDF—with violating both international law and US policy by supporting Israeli ventures in the West Bank.
The plaintiffs originally sought some $35 billion in damages, which was subsequently scaled down to $1 billion.
While not addressing the details of the case—accusations that financial support to Israeli projects in the West Bank violated American and international law by supporting the “genocide” of Palestinians—Judge Tanya Chutkan ruled that the acts detailed in the suit involved “political questions” which were outside the purview of the judicial branch.
Attorney Marc Zell, who represented several of the charities named in Al-Tamimi v. Adelson, told TPS the case was an important victory for Israel in the fight against Palestinian attempts to “change the narrative” about Israel and the Palestinians in the court of public opinion.
“I don’t even think the plaintiffs expected this case to survive judicial scrutiny,” said Zell, who also serves as chairman of the Israel branch of Republicans Overseas. “That was never really the point. It was ‘lawfare’—the attempt to reshape the narrative of what is going on here between Israel and the Palestinians.”
The ruling was the second defeat for Palestinian supporters in the US courts in recent months. In June, the United States District Court for the District of Columbia knocked back a request by Palestinian-American author Susan Abulhawa to force the US Treasury to invalidate the tax-exempt status granted to charities which support humanitarian activities in Jewish communities in the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem.
The plaintiffs had asked the court to order the Treasury Department to initiate an investigation into the tax-exempt charities and, based on the investigation, to revoke the exemption granted to such entities.
However, in June Washington, DC District Court Judge Randolph Moss determined that none of the plaintiffs had constitutional standing to bring the suit in federal court. Notably, Abulhawa has appealed to the Circuit Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit, but the appeal is still pending.