'A federal judge in Washington, DC, on Monday dismissed a lawsuit against the American Studies Association over its decision to support the boycott of Israeli academic institutions.
The ruling is a significant blow to efforts by Israel lobby groups to use courts to harass, intimidate and silence supporters of Palestinian rights in US universities – a tactic known as lawfare.
In April 2016, several current and former members of the ASA filed the lawsuit against the group over its 2013 resolution backing the academic boycott.
In his 20-page ruling, US District Judge Rudolph Contreras wrote that the plaintiffs had no standing to file a lawsuit seeking damages on behalf of the ASA, and that their individual damage claims came nowhere near the $75,000 minimum required for them to seek relief in federal court.
At most, the individual plaintiffs could seek damages of a few hundred dollars to cover membership dues they allege were misappropriated, but they would have to find some other venue to pursue their claims, the judge found.
“The court basically said, in no uncertain words, that the plaintiffs suing ASA lied when they claimed to have ‘suffered significant economic and reputational damage.’” Radhika Sainath, senior attorney with the civil rights group Palestine Legal, told The Electronic Intifada. “But, as the court explained, ‘nowhere’ in the lawsuit could the plaintiffs explain what that damage was. It didn’t pass the smell test.”
“I’m thrilled that this baseless case has been dismissed. It served no purpose other than persecuting those who dare to criticize Israeli policy and seek to end the occupation through peaceful means,” Steven Salaita, one of the defendants, told The Electronic Intifada.
“Our victory further illustrates that it’s important to stand firm against attempts to silence those devoted to the cause of justice.”'
Read more: US court throws out lawsuit against academic boycott of Israel
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