Palestine Legal Resources Canada

Mission

Our mission is to bolster the Palestine solidarity movement across the country by challenging efforts to threaten, harass and legally bully activists into silence and inaction.

What We Do

We provide legal advice, Know Your Rights trainings, advocacy support to students, grassroots activists and affected communities who stand for justice in Palestine. Just Peace Advocates also monitors incidents of suppression to expose trends in tactics to silence Palestine activism.

Palestine Legal Resources Canada is an initiative of Just Peace Advocates.  Just Peace Advocates is an independent organization dedicated to protecting the civil and charter rights of people in Canada who speak out for Palestinian freedom.  Our attorney network includes people from Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, and other places, and our work spans all provinces and territories. We work closely with several organizations to provide legal support to activists around the country.

Just Peace Advocates is a registered Canadian not-for-profit.  In the USA, Just Peace Advocates is a fiscally sponsored project of the Non-Violence International in the USA, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. 

The Issue

The movement for Palestinian rights continues to grow in the Canada – from the mushrooming of campus groups like Students for Justice in Palestine, to the rise in boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaigns, to everyday people moved to change the status quo for Palestine.

As support for Palestinian rights has grown, so too have attempts by groups that uncritically support Israeli state policies to silence advocates for change. Through a variety of tactics, these groups pressure government actors, universities and other private institutions to investigate, censor and punish individuals and groups who criticize Israel or support Palestinian rights.

On campuses, students have faced disciplined for peaceful protests and professors forced to defend their research projects related to Palestine. Events at public venues have been canceled in response to pressure campaigns. Local, provincial and national government actors have introduced bylaws, motions and legislation targeting BDS campaigns.

Outright censorship of those who contemplate critically discussing this issue — as well as self-censorship to avoid backlash — is pervasive.

Untold numbers of other instances of students, academics, activists and ordinary people all over the country go unreported, with many electing to keep quiet out of fear of losing their job or facing increased scrutiny for their views.

We work to confront this widespread suppression of Palestine advocacy by representing, advising and providing legal education to activists and communities who stand up for justice in Palestine.

How is speech in support of Palestine being silenced?  

False and Inflammatory Accusations of Anti-Semitism and Support for Terrorism: While anti-Semitism exists and must be confronted and condemned, the conflation of criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism is a harmful distortion of and distraction from real anti-Semitism, and from the human rights issues that advocates for Palestinian rights raise. Unfortunately, many people are labeled anti-Semitic for criticizing Israel’s policies. Activists supporting Palestinian human rights are also frequently falsely accused of supporting terrorism. This can have severe consequences, often bringing undue law enforcement scrutiny upon individuals and groups.

Official Denunciation: Institutional actors, often in response to outside pressure, pronounce official disproval of views supporting Palestinian rights, frequently by mischaracterizing Palestine activism, particularly support for BDS, as uncivil, divisive or improperly “delegitimizing” Israel.

Bureaucratic Barriers: Universities increasingly resort to various bureaucratic measures that hinder students organizing for Palestinian rights. When students have difficulties reserving rooms, getting their events approved, are required to pay for or accept extensive security measures at their events, or are called in to discuss the details of their events with administrators, it forces them to expend resources defending their activities rather than organizing.

Cancellations and Alterations of Academic and Cultural Events: Institutions respond to pressure to cancel or alter academic and cultural programs from Israel advocacy groups.

Administrative Sanctions: Universities often respond to complaints by Israel advocacy groups by disproportionally investigating and punishing students and student groups for speech supporting Palestinian rights.  Student groups have been denied standing in their universities.  Students wishing to do internships in Palestine have been denied doing so by their university administration.

Threats to Academic Freedom: Academics perceived to be critical of Israeli policies or sympathetic to Palestinian human rights are frequently targeted by Israel advocacy groups. Campaigns against faculty sully reputations and have even led to termination of employment.

Lawsuits and Legal Threats: Lawsuits, administrative civil rights complaints and threats of lawsuits against groups engaged in boycott campaigns or speech critical of Israel have largely been unsuccessful. They nevertheless exact a significant emotional and financial toll.

Legislation: In the United States since 2015, twenty-five states have enacted laws aimed at restricting and chilling support for Palestinian rights. Most of these laws prohibit state governments from entering into contracts with individuals, organizations, and/or companies that support boycotts for Palestinian rights. There was an attempt to introduce similar legislation in Ontario in 2016.  In the same year the Federal Government and Government of Ontario passed Motions that condemned BDS, as did at least one municipality.   Currently three city governments have defeated the implementation of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition, however in Ontario this legislation is currently moving through the decision-making process.  This definition if passed could lead to further violations of Charter-protected rights to freedom of expression.

Get Help - Intake

Just Peace Advocates works with a network of organizations, attorneys and advocacy groups to respond to requests for legal and advocacy assistance, and to document incidents of suppression. We will coordinate with this network to provide you with the best possible pro-bono (free) legal advice, representation or referral, when it is within our Scope of Services. We reserve the right to refuse services based on our Refusal of Service Policy.

Contact us if you:

  • Face attempts to shut down, smear or hamper your activism
  • Believe your Charter rights to organize and protest have been violated
  • Need legal advice about BDS or other campaigns
  • Experience verbal or physical intimidation
  • Experience different treatment than other student groups on campus
  • Have questions about your rights to organize solidarity actions

Scope of Services

We provide limited legal services to Palestine solidarity activists and academics, including advocacy support, representation, and legal resources.  Because our capacity is limited, we try to refer activists to experienced attorneys when possible.

Refusal of Service Policy

Just Peace Advocates and its partners are not obligated to represent all prospective clients.  We may decline to provide services if:

  • The identity of a prospective client is uncertain (for example, if a prospective client refuses to identify herself, fails to provide enough detail confirming their identity, or the attorney suspects that the prospective client is not who she purports to be).
  • A prospective client genuinely promotes hatred against Jews and/or other identifiable groups.
  • A prospective client does not contact us themselves, but through a third-party purporting to represent the client.
  • A prospective client requests services that conflict with or exceed our scope of work or mission.
  • A prospective client has a conflict of interest with former, current, or other prospective clients of Just Peace Advocates and affiliated attorneys.
  • For any other reason, Just Peace Advocates and affiliated attorneys are unable to offer legal services.

Report an Incident

If you have experienced any of these or other actions against you or organizations you are involved you are invited to share this information with us.

Thank you to Palestine Legal USA for allowing Just Peace Advocates to use their information in regard to Palestine Legal Resources Canada resources.

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