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Campaign Urges Three Law Firms to Withdraw Sponsorship of Conference Awarding Navi Pillay

Updated: Sep 27, 2023

(New York, NY - September 26, 2023) -- StandWithUs International, in cooperation with a coalition of dozens of organizations that play a leadership role in the American Jewish and legal communities (listed below), has launched a major effort calling on three law firms – Debevoise & Plimpton LLP; Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, and White & Case - to withdraw their financial sponsorship of the American Branch of the International Law Association’s “International Law Weekend” (October 19-21, 2023) which will honor Navi Pillay with their top Outstanding Achievement Award.

Navi Pillay is the head of the United Nations Commission of Inquiry (COI) on Israel and the former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and has used her platform to advance a focused agenda against the Jewish people and the State of Israel. On September 26, the coalition sent a letter to each of the three law firms urging that they withdraw their sponsorship of International Law Weekend. StandWithUs is also appealing to its network of lawyers and members of the public to call on these firms to remove their sponsorship.

CEO of StandWithUs, Roz Rothstein, stated, “It is outrageous that Navi Pillay is being honored in the first place given her clear obsession and well documented double standards against the world’s only Jewish state. It’s also inexcusable that Pillay has completely minimized the impact of Palestinian terrorism and the role it has played in the conflict. These firms ought to know that by financially supporting International Law Weekend, they will appear as though they are tacitly legitimizing Pillay’s legacy, which has also excused antisemitism and anti-Israel sentiment in the halls of the UN.”

Eighteen countries, including the United States, have condemned Pillay and the UN Commission of Inquiry (COI)–which she chairs–for its anti-Israel bias and for the “overtly antisemitic comments” made by one of its commissioners, whom Pillay defended. Fellow commissioner, Miloon Kothari, accused the “Jewish Lobby” of controlling social media and questioned Israel’s membership in the UN. Commissioner Kothari later apologized for his remarks. Pillay did not. On the contrary, when speaking before the press at UN Headquarters in New York in October 2022, Pillay was asked about the antisemitism associated with her Inquiry and responded, “this [antisemitism] is always raised as a diversion.” Likewise, Pillay has operated her COI in a manner that denies the fundamentals of any just legal system, starting with due process for Israel and for other individual and NGO interlocutors she casts as at odds with her highly politicized campaign. Prior to her COI’s June 2023 report, Pillay’s Inquiry issued calls for submissions and then admitted that the report considered and relied on only 21 of them. Her Inquiry entirely disregarded the hundreds of thousands of submissions that had been sent from significant research and human rights organizations, but which she labeled and dismissed as “pro-Israel.” Despite the COI’s enormous mandate about “root causes” of the conflict since “time immemorial,” its reports have included little to no analysis or condemnation of the harm inflicted by Palestinian terrorists against Israelis or innocent Palestinians who they put in harm’s way. On the contrary, none of them identify Palestinian groups like Hamas as what they are: internationally recognized terrorist organizations. The message this broadcasts globally is dangerously incompatible with the protection of the most basic of human rights and conflicts with American law that unambiguously designates Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and others as terrorist organizations. Notably, the announcement for the ABILA International Law Weekend omits Pillay’s current role as Chair of the COI, a role which she has controversially held for over two years. In light of the breadth of the ABILA’s “outstanding achievement” award, it is vital to be aware of her history of using inaccurate sources and material to demonize Israel. The COI is not the first anti-Israel UN initiative that Pillay has led. Pillay also helped spearhead the United Nations’ Goldstone Report, which accused the Israeli Defense Forces of the heinous crime of deliberately targeting civilians. This slander was exposed and rejected as false. While the report’s main author, Richard Goldstone, later retracted the allegation, Pillay refused to do the same. Furthermore, Pillay championed the UN “Durban” conferences, characterized by notoriously antisemitic spectacles. She has also defended systemic discrimination at the UN Human Rights Council, which has a permanent agenda item singling out Israel for condemnation. StandWithUs International thanks the following organizational partners for co-sponsoring this effort: World Jewish Congress - North America, B'nai Brith International, American Jewish Congress, Simon Wiesenthal Center, Hadassah, the Women's Zionist Organization of America, Israeli-American Coalition for Action, Shurat Hadin, Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting and Analysis, Lawfare Project, NGO Monitor, American Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists, Center for Combating Antisemitism, Combating Antisemitism Movement, Club Z, Deborah Project, Eagles’ Wings Ministries, Endowment for Middle East Truth, Hasbara Fellowships, Human Rights Voices, Institute of Black Solidarity with Israel, International Council of Jewish Women, International Legal Forum, Israel Christian Nexus, Jew Belong, National Jewish Advocacy Center, Proclaiming Justice to the Nations, Saidoff Legal Department, South African Friends of Israel, South African Zionist Federation, Students Supporting Israel, UK Lawyers For Israel, Women's International Zionist Organization, Zachor Legal Institute, Zionist Organization of America and Scholars for Peace in the Middle East.

About StandWithUs StandWithUs (SWU) is an international, nonprofit and non-partisan Israel education organization that works to inspire and educate people of all ages about Israel, as well as challenge misinformation and fight against antisemitism. Through university fellowships, high school internships, middle school curricula, conferences, materials, social media, educational films and missions to Israel, StandWithUs supports people around the world who want to educate their schools and communities about Israel. Founded in 2001 and headquartered in Los Angeles, the organization has chapters and programs on six continents, including throughout the U.S., in Israel, the UK, Canada, Australia, South Africa, Brazil and the Netherlands. For the last eleven years, SWU has consistently received the highest possible ratings from Charity Navigator and Guidestar, two charity watchdog groups that assess hundreds of thousands of charities in the United States. and and and


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