Brooke Goldstein Upholds the Civil Rights of Jews – Jewish Journal

Posted By on December 7, 2019

When Brooke Goldstein was in her third year at Yeshiva Universitys Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in New York City, her graduation was almost delayed because she had to skip so many classes.

At the time, she was in the midst of filming a documentary on terrorist groups that recruit children for suicide bombings. Ironically, while the professor of a class called Human Rights and Genocide Clinic wanted to delay her credits, Goldstein was working to expose a human rights issue.

Goldstein told the Journal that filming the 2006 documentary The Making of a Martyr was an eye-opening experience for me. I used to think that the so-called Israeli-Palestinian conflict was very black and white; that there were good guys and bad guys and that was the end of it. But when I spent time with 6-year-old Muslim children who were repeating to me terrorist slogans like We have nowhere to go but up [blow up], I realized theres a complexity to the situation, and I became extraordinarily empathetic to these innocent children.

I decided to dedicate my life to exposing human rights violations, and not just against these children. These children, like children anywhere in the world, deserve their right to life. How tragic is it that they are being continually abused and, frankly, murdered for political gains?

With Goldstein, theres no equivocating, no relativizing, no virtue signaling. She simply is a proud Jewess, speaking the truth about our history, Israel and the threats of our various enemies.

Inspired by her experience exposing human rights violations and using facts and the law as her weapons Goldstein has transformed how the Jewish community defends itself. In 2010, she created The Lawfare Project (TLP), an international pro-Israel litigation fund that has facilitated nearly 80 lawsuits around the globe. It maintains an international network of more than 400 attorneys dedicated to defending and upholding the civil and human rights of the Jewish community.

There is this very liberal, democratic tradition in our country: using the courts to engage in litigation to uphold the basic rights of minorities, Goldstein said. Yet, while Jews have always been at the forefront of advocating for other minorities Rabbi [Abraham Joshua] Heschel marching with Martin Luther King [Jr.], for example we have never ourselves, as a minority community, really taken advantage of our rights to equal protection under the law, by strategically using the legal system to fight against anti-Semitic discrimination.

Throughout most of our Diaspora history, the reigning governments typically used the law against Jews. There often were two sets of laws: one for Jews and one for everyone else. In 1913, Bnai Brith founded the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). The ADLs original mission statement was to stop, by appeals to reason and conscience and, if necessary, by appeals to law, the defamation of the Jewish people.But it rarely went the legal route.

If we dont fight to enforce our rights, why should we expect anyone to respect them?

Brooke Goldstein

The big changes of the mid-20th century, such as removing quotas for Jews at universities and ending exclusions at restaurants and country clubs, largely were results of cultural shifts after the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Groups including the National Jewish Commission on Law and Public Affairs (COLPA) and Agudath Israel of America did use litigation, but mostly to help Orthodox Jews obey Jewish law while maintaining employment.

Born and raised in Toronto, Goldstein first practiced entertainment law after graduating from Cardozo. However, the release of The Making of a Martyr moved her in a different direction. Exposing the state-sponsored indoctrination and recruitment of innocent Muslim children was eye-opening, she said. This hate education is the root cause of terrorism.

Goldstein began working as in-house counsel for Daniel Pipes Middle East Forum (MEF) and also ran MEFs legal fund, which provided pro-bono counsel and financial support to members of the counterterrorist community and moderate Muslims speaking out against Islamist terrorism.

She then came up with the idea of creating a legal defense fund for Jews using the law to defend and enforce the basic civil rights of Jews just as it is used to defend the rights of every other minority group.

TLP stands on its own, outside the realm of hasbara, leaflets and protests. Goldstein stated, We file groundbreaking cases around the world to tackle the major issues facing the Jewish people from BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) to national origin or religious discrimination to state-sponsored discrimination.We are like the pro-Israel ACLU.

Not everyone, though, saw Goldsteins use of litigation as a positive.

When I first proposed a Jewish civil rights litigation fund there was backlash from some of the traditional Jewish leadership, Goldstein said. Thats too aggressive, they said. This is not how we do things.

As a civil rights attorney, aggressively asserting the rights ofmy clients to be free from unlawful discrimination is a compliment. That means youre a good lawyer. Can you imagine the NAACP (The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) being accused by the black community of too aggressively advocating for black civil rights? If we dont stand up for ourselves, who will? And if we dont fight to enforce our rights, why should we expect anyone to respect them?

Goldstein believes many Jews in the Diaspora have a problem with Jewish pride. We should be able to stand up like every other minority group in this country and say we deserve justice and say it loudly. We have every right to avail ourselves of the legal system, to equal protection under the law.

The community spends so much money on so-called pro-Israel advocacy,and its not moving the needle. Dollars are being spent educating Jewish students how to defend themselves, handing out pamphlets and leaflets for them to memorize, as though its the job of a Jewish student to defend Israel. The change you can make with one lawsuit or even one legal letter is enormous, she said. Not only can you ensure that the rights of your clients are respected and protected, and that similar unlawful behavior is deterred, but you go from defense to offense. And when one minority community enforces the law, all minority communities benefit.

Nine years after its launch, TLP successfully has litigated or helped litigate 79 cases in 17 jurisdictions around the world. TLPs website points to these cases as the most significant thus far:

San Francisco State University (SFSU)

SFSU has earned a reputation as one of the most anti-Semitic campuses in the country, after more than three decades of discrimination and abuse of Jewish students by peers, professors and administrators.

With Winston & Strawn LLP, TLP represented five SFSU students and two non-student San Francisco residents. They filed two lawsuits against the California State University (CSU) public university system, one in federal and one in state court, alleging violations of the First Amendment, 14th Amendment (Equal Protection Clause), Title VI of the Civil Rights Act and the California Unruh Civil Rights Act.

In March 2019, TLP and Winston & Strawn reached a landmark settlement against CSU, which ensured that CSU recognize Zionism as an integral part of Jewish identity.

We have never ourselves, as a minority community, really taken advantage of our rights to equal protection under the law, by strategically using the legal system to fight against anti-Semitic discrimination. Brooke Goldstein

National Lawyers Guild (NLG)

NLG, a public interest association of legal professionals, refused to sell advertisement space in its annual gala journal to an Israeli company. According to an email the NLG national office sent, the guilds refusal was based on an official resolution barring [NLG] from accepting funds from Israeli organizations.

TLP is lead counsel representing Bibliotechnical Athenaeum, the Israeli organization whose ad NLG rejected. TLP argued that New York City and state human rights and anti-discrimination laws prohibit an entity from engaging in BDS-related discriminatory conduct based on national origin and/or citizenship.

The NLGs second motion to dismiss the case most recently was rejected on March 2, 2018.

Kuwait Airways Corp. (KAC); Saudi Arabia Airlines (Saudia)

KAC refuses to recognize Israeli nationals passports or fly them on any of its flights. After alerting the U.S. Department of Transportation of KACs discriminatory behavior in 2017, TLP took steps to force the airline to choose between complying with federal and international law or face the termination of its lease at JFK International Airport. KAC canceled its JFK-London route, resulting in millions of dollars in pecuniary loss.

At the same time, TLP brought a suit against KAC in Switzerland, which resulted in KAC shutting down all its inter-European flights. TLP now is litigating in Frankfurt, Germany, to force KAC to comply with German anti-discrimination law on its flights to non-Arab League destinations with transfers in Kuwait. More than half of all KAC flight paths have been canceled because of TLPs anti-discrimination actions.


Numerous city councils throughout Spain have adopted discriminatory resolutions and other official policies of refusing to enter into any agreements or contracts (political, commercial, cultural) with Israeli entities and non-Israeli entities that cooperate or do business with Israeli companies.

TLP initiated legal action in various Spanish courts to invalidate the discriminatory council decisions. To date, its Spanish counsel successfully has nullified 65 city council and local resolutions, and paved the way for criminal action against government officials and city councils that continue to adopt BDS-related policies.

As a result of legal action taken last year by Spanish Jews represented by TLP, Google LLC reached an understanding with TLPs lawyers to block defamatory content, including material promoting Nazi ideology and Holocaust denial. The settlement came about when TLP filed several take-down notices with Google LLC, identifying content in its search results that included extreme and defamatory racism against the Jewish people. Googles lawyers examined the complaints and subsequently, various examples of anti-Semitic content identified in the notices were blocked from appearing in Google searches in Spain. This is the first time Google blocked illegal content against the Jewish people based on defamation complaints.

Leila Khaled

Khaled, a notorious plane hijacker and member of the designated terrorist group the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), has been traveling throughout Europe with impunity and giving speeches glorifying terrorism, including at the European Parliament.

TLP submitted a criminal complaint to the National Court of Spain against Khaled, charging her with public exaltation of terror financing, while applying for a European arrest warrant and lobbying for Khaleds inclusion on EU and Interpol databases.

In coordination with its Italian counsel from the Solomon Project, TLP engaged in a media and legal campaign that successfully resulted in Italys Interior Ministry barring the entry of Khaled into the country.

Hamas and Hezbollah TV

TV channels run by terrorist groups such as Al-Aqsa TV (Hamas) and Al-Manar (Hezbollah) regularly air programming targeting children that incites violence against Jews and promotes acts of terrorism.

TLP, upon discovering that a U.S.-based Internet Protocol TV (IPTV) provider was giving customers access to the two channels, drafted a memorandum of law analyzing potential criminal and civil liabilities to which the provider was exposed. After sharing the memorandum with law enforcement, an investigation was launched into the IPTV provider and the broadcast was shut down.

Correcting the Narrative

While TLP is tackling BDS in the courts, Goldstein believes there is an urgent need to change the underlying ideological narrative.

If you cant articulate why Jews, a minority community, deserve the right to sovereignty, then you have already ceded that space to the Jew-haters who are invading the left, and who seek to move the left toward a place that denies the right of Israel to exist, she said.

Im reminded of M.J. Nurenbergers The Scared and the Doomed, Goldstein said. During our peoples darkest hour, as Hitlers war machine kicked into high gear, much of the Diaspora establishment eschewed collective action to save European Jewry. These cosmopolitan, assimilated Jews did not want to risk their hard-earned place in American society by speaking out of turn.They wanted to be a part of the prevailing culture, not disturb it.

Goldstein said that in 2019, the price of anti-Semitism in the U.S. is plummeting. And its only going to get cheaper if American Jews avoid demanding respect and asserting their Jewish Zionist pride. Its time for the Jewish community as a whole to reject the anti-Semitic regressive left, not empower it, she said.

Some progressives have tried to tarnish Goldstein with the right-wing brush because she appears on Fox News and commends President Donald Trump for supporting Israel. Asked what she calls herself, she laughed and said Im Canadian.

She added, Dont expect any civil rights movement to respect you if you dont respect yourself. We are strong when we lead by example, not when we bow to radicalism or partisanship.

Whats next for TLP? We will continue to do what we do best, Goldstein said. Advocate against Jew-hatred and file groundbreaking civil rights cases to ensure our clients achieve the respect they deserve.

On the front burner is responding to a November ruling by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU). The court declared that European Union law now requires labels to be placed on products imported from disputed Israeli territories (West Bank, East Jerusalem, the Golan Heights). They have effectively mandated discrimination, Goldstein said. The law now treats Jewish-owned and Muslim-owned businesses differently, even if they operate in the same geographic location.

Moreover, the CJEU added that any consumers ethical considerations whether political, social, economic or environmental also necessitates labeling. Europe has opened up a Pandoras box of politicized product labeling and unleashed unintended consequences that could wreak havoc on international trade, Goldstein said.

How will TLP fight it? We will argue, on the basis of anti-discrimination law, against applying the requirements exclusively to Israel, Goldstein said. We are committed to challenging enforcement in every country and every locality that attempts to discriminate on the basis of ethnicity or religion.

At the same time, Goldstein said shell work toward creating an intelligent, forceful Jewish pridemovement Jews have always supported other minority pride movements. Now its time for ours.

Karen Lehrman Bloch is an author and cultural critic living in New York City.

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Brooke Goldstein Upholds the Civil Rights of Jews - Jewish Journal

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