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Bahbah: US Federal Court Reinstates Charges Against Adelson, and 30 Other Pro-Israel Groups for War Crimes, Crimes Against Humanity, and Genocide

posted on: Apr 17, 2019

By: Bishara A. Bahbah/Arab America Featured Columnist

All fair-minded individuals should be grateful for the increasingly just and honorable legal system of the United States.

Although Palestinians have been thoroughly wronged for decades by US politicians especially under the current US President, justice might finally come for Palestinians from another branch of the US government –the judiciary branch.

In 2016, and thanks to the dedication of legal experts led by Martin F. McMahon and his associates who filed a lawsuit on behalf of the Tamimi family of Nabi Saleh in the West Bank along with 60 other Palestinian and Palestinian American plaintiffs.

According to a recent press release by Advocate Martin F. McMahon, the lawsuit was first filed in the US District Court in Washington, DC in 2016. It charged wealthy American Jewish defendants, nonprofit pro-Israel organizations along with some Israeli and international institutions and corporations with:

  • Aiding and abetting genocide and other crimes
  • Funneling millions of dollars through defendant tax-exempt entities and banks to Israeli villages called “settlements”
  • Armed with this financial assistance, the settlement leaders hired full-time security coordinators who trained a militia of Israeli settlers to kill Palestinians and confiscate their property.

The Palestinians who are the plaintiffs, in this case, demanded $1 billion in damages from the list of defendants for enabling war crimes, including genocide, extra-territorial killings, and ethnic cleansing –to rid the Palestinian Occupied Territories of its rightful inhabitants.

The Individual Defendants Include Sheldon Adelson, Norman Braman, Lawrence Ellison, Daniel Gilbert, John Hagee, Lev Leviev, Irving Moskowitz, and Haim Saban–some of the wealthiest American Jews active in supporting pro-Israel causes.

The US Tax-Exempt Entities Include:

  • American Friends of Ariel, American Friends of Bet El Yeshiva, American Friends of Har Homa, American Friends of Ulpana Ofran, Christian Friends of Israeli Communities, Efrat Development Foundation, Falic Family Foundation, Friends of Defense Forces, Gush Etzion Foundation, Honenu National Legal Defense Organization, Karnei Shomron Foundation, The Hebron Fund and The Jewish National Fund.
  • The Banks Include Bank Leumi Le-Israel and Bank Hapoalim.
  • The Construction and Support Firms Include G4S, RE/MAX, Africa Israel Investments, Veolia Environmental Services, Volvo, Hewlett-Packard, Motorola Solutions and Orbital ATK.
  • Elliott Abrams: Former US Deputy National Security Advisor.

The defendants built and supported firms which confiscated property belonging to the plaintiff Palestinians and developed housing for settlers and built shopping malls, temples, museums, restaurants, etc.

To no one’s surprise, the defendants hired some of the best legal talents in the United States and successfully had the case dismissed by the US District Court in Washington, DC, in 2017.

The Palestinians’ legal team appealed to the DC Circuit Court of Appeals. After a year-long review of the appeal, and on February 19, 2019, the Appeals Court ordered with a unanimous vote (i.e., no dissenting judges) that the District Court erred by dismissing the case.

In an order filed on April 5, 2019, the DC Circuit Court of Appeals revived the case of “Al Tamimi, v. Adelson, et. al.” In its ruling, the DC Circuit Court of Appeals stated that: “From what we can tell…the court could rule in the plaintiffs’ favor on at least Counts I, II and III …”

As detailed in the Amended Complaint:

1. Count I is a claim for civil conspiracy to expel all non-Jews from the occupied territories;

2. Count II is a claim for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide in violation of the Law of Nations;

3. Count III is a claim for aiding and abetting the commission of war crimes by defendants; and

4. Count IV is a claim of aggravated trespass.

By its own ruling, the DC Circuit Court of Appeals is essentially instructing the lower US District Court that it not only erred in its earlier decision to dismiss the case, but its own findings find the defendants possibly guilty of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes.

In no uncertain terms, this is a landmark case and a tremendous and unprecedented victory to Palestinians who are victims of an oppressive Israeli occupation and those who assist them including a belligerent settler movement.

Of course, Adelson and company can and will drag this case for years in US courts and will take the case up to the US Supreme Court, if necessary. However, the fact that the US Circuit Court has already indicated that they would have ruled in favor of heinous crimes committed by these individuals could encourage Palestinians and their supporters worldwide to take these individuals and institutions to court in various jurisdictions based on the ruling of the US Court of Appeals. These people’s movements might be restricted out of fear of arrest or seizure of assets or, even, imprisonment.

Politically, it could mean that the inviolability of those who support Israel has its legal limits. And, Israel and its supporters cannot be the outlaws that get away with violating and raping Palestinian rights with impunity. No longer will laws protect them including US laws.



Prof. Bishara Bahbah was the editor-in-chief of the Jerusalem based “Al-Fajr” newspaper between 1983-84. He was a member of the Palestinian delegation to the Peace Talks on Arms Control and Regional Security.  He taught at Harvard and was the associate director of its Kennedy School’s Institute for Social and Economic Policy in the Middle East.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of Arab America.