Judge dismisses suit against American Muslims for Palestine
BY: MAUREEN CLARE MURPHY
SOURCE: THE ELECTRONIC INTIFADA
A lawsuit against two Palestine advocacy groups and three individuals involved with them was dismissed by a US federal judge in Chicago on Friday, the Muslim Legal Fund of America announced this week.
The parents of David Boim, a 17-year-old American killed by a Hamas gunman in the occupied West Bank in 1996, filed the lawsuit in May.
The suit claims that American Muslims for Palestine and the affiliated Americans for Justice in Palestine Educational Foundation are reincarnations of Islamic charities bankrupted and shut down following a 2000 lawsuit which argued that the charities provided material support to Hamas.
In late 2004 a jury awarded the Boims $52 million in damages that was automatically trebled to $156 million according to federal anti-terrorism laws.
The suit filed in May attempted to collect the $156 million judgment originally awarded against the now defunct groups. The Boims claim in their suit that they received only a small fraction of the damages they were awarded.
The suit argues that Rafeeq Jaber, Abdelbasset Hamayel and Osama Abu Irshaid established American Muslims for Palestine, and a nonprofit funding arm, Americans for Justice in Palestine Educational Foundation, to replace the groups found liable for supporting Hamas in 2004.
The Boims’ new suit claims that American Muslims for Palestine, which was founded in Chicago in 2006, has the “identical” agenda of their supposed predecessors.
“AMP claims on its website that it is ‘all about educating people about Palestine,’ thus continuing the purported purposes” of the groups targeted in the first suit, the complaint states.
Attorneys from the Constitutional Law Center for Muslims in America, a nonprofit law firm sponsored by the Muslim Legal Fund of America, submitted a motion to dismiss the suit on behalf of its defendants in June.
“Overly broad strokes”
In her motion for dismissal on Friday, District Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman states that in their effort to collect the damages they were awarded, “and to prevent their previous victory from being a pyrrhic one, plaintiffs are painting with overly broad strokes.”
The motion adds that the court is wary of “potentially permitting the funding of a terrorist organization and cutting off a source of a significant judgment” but is “equally cautious of branding any organization and its members that support humanitarian interests for the people of Palestine as having an unlawful motive.”
Khalil Meek, executive director of the Muslim Legal Fund of America, welcomed the ruling as “a huge win for free speech in America.”
American Muslims for Palestine chair Dr. Hatem Bazian stated that the judge’s decision “vindicates” his group.
“Our hearts go out to the Boim family for the tragic loss of their son, but we’re gratified to see the judge recognizes it’s not legitimate to hold all Palestinian and Muslim organizations in the United States accountable for actions overseas,” Bazian said in a press release.