The New York City Bar Association
ATTN: Senior Lawyers Committee, Barry Bloom, Chair
New York, NY 10036
RE: A Conversation with Ambassador Dani Dayan, Consul General of Israel in New York: Public Affairs Luncheon
Dear Senior Lawyers Committee of the NYC Bar Association:
We write to express our grave dismay about your plans to host Dani Dayan as a guest speaker on April 17, 2018. By providing Dayan a platform, you are contradicting your mission which states that your organization is committed to “uphold[ing] the rule of law and access to justice in support of a fair society and the public interest in our community, our nation and throughout the world.”
It is particularly shocking that Dayan is hosted by your organization at a time when the Israeli military is shooting at unarmed civilians peacefully protesting in Gaza, killing over 30 young Palestinians, maiming and seriously injuring thousands more- in violation of the most basic tenets of international human rights and humanitarian law.
Moreover, you are lending your name, space, and legitimacy to an individual who himself may face charges for criminal violations of international law.
Dayan was a key leader of the Yesha settler coalition -himself a settler- and a vocal advocate of settlements and population transfers. Dayan has stated that the “settlements of Judea and Samaria are…part of the solution.” 1 Unabashed in his call for population transfers, in a January 2015 interview, Dayan boasted of settlement growth under his tenure and of his success in undermining President Obama’s efforts to freeze settlement construction. 2
The Fourth Geneva Convention prohibits an Occupying Power from deporting or transferring parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies. Under international law, therefore, these settlements are illegal. In fact, Israeli settlements were specifically determined to be illegal in the International Court of Justice (ICJ) Advisory Opinion on The Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. This finding had been previously articulated, and reaffirmed, in numerous General Assembly Resolutions and in UN Security Council (UNSC) resolutions issued consistently from 1967 through 2017. Thus, by enabling and engaging in such population transfers, Dayan is implicated in crimes under the Fourth Geneva Convention and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.
In 2015, Brazil rejected Dayan’s appointment as Ambassador of Israel to Brazil and refused to recognize his credentials; as a result, he was assigned to the post of Consul General in New York. In their rejection of his credentials, Brazil Government officials cited his history of illegal and criminal activity in the settler movement.
Dayan regularly professes his casually flagrant disregard for the basic, internationally recognized, legal right to equality and self-determination enshrined in the UN Charter. Dayan publicly states that “there can be no sovereignty for Palestinians west of the Jordan,” calling for the priority of Jewish settler claims over Palestinian claims. 3
Worse yet, in a 2013 interview, Dayan proposed that Palestinians could not have their own state, but “would be governed in a kind of political system ‘whose like we have not seen,’ not independent but not occupied, not as one unit, but in disparate groups between the Israeli settlements,”3 much like what was instituted under the South African Apartheid government.
Articles 8 and 47 of the Fourth Geneva Convention maintain that an Occupying State shall be regarded only as administrator of occupied territories and shall not acquire sovereignty over occupied territory. The Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid labeled apartheid as a crime against humanity and defined Apartheid as instituted policies and practices of racial segregation and discrimination for the purpose of establishing and maintaining domination by one racial group. In 2002, South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu wrote “I have been to the Occupied Palestinian Territory, and I have witnessed the racially segregated roads and housing that reminded me so much of the conditions we experienced in South Africa under the racist system of Apartheid.”4
If all that were not enough, Dayan displayed his contempt for free speech and called New York City students who challenged his statements “terrorists” during his lecture at the City College of New York. Palestine Legal, in collaboration with the Center for Constitutional Rights, wrote in its letter to CCNY that, Dayan said, “when you get used to terrorism, you don’t make a difference between verbal terrorism and actual terrorism,” apparently equating the critical questioning and follow-up clarifications by SJP members to violent attacks on civilian populations. During the Q&A, it appears that Dayan avoided calling on students who looked Muslim, Arab, or South Asian. He did, however, call on Undergraduate Student Government Vice President of Finance Radwa Ahmed to ask the final question, referring to Ahmed dismissively as “the girl in the keffiyeh.”5
Given the foregoing, all of which is in the public record, we are appalled that you would host Dayan and provide him a platform to promote his racist and illegal policies. We thus call on you to immediately rescind the invitation and cancel the event planned for April 17, 2018.
Center for Constitutional Rights
National Lawyers Guild, International Committee
National Lawyers Guild, Palestine Subcommittee
Global Justice and Human Rights Law Network
Jews for Palestinian Right of Return
Within Our Lifetime-United for Palestine
The New School Students for Justice in Palestine
Hunter Students for Justice in Palestine
Doctoral Students Council Labor for Palestine
Abdeen Jabara, Former Board Member, Center for Constitutional Rights, Past President of the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee
Lamis Deek, Human Rights Attorney
Huwaida Arraf, Civil Rights Attorney, National Lawyers Guild, Palestine Subcommittee Co-chair
Suzanne Adely, National Lawyers Guild International Committee Co-Chair
Audrey Bomse, Human Rights Attorney, National Lawyers Guild, Palestine Subcommittee Co-chair
Jeanne Mirer, President of International Association of Democratic Lawyers
Michael Letwin, Labor for Palestine; Former President, Association of Legal Aid Attorneys/UAW 2325; New York City
Jim Lafferty, Director, National Lawyers Guild/Los Angeles; Fellow, Institute for the Humanities, University of Southern California; Chair, Office of the Americas
Noora Barakat, NYC Bar Association Member
Ahmad Abuznaid, Civil Rights Attorney
Bill Goodman, Civil Rights Attorney, Former Legal Director of Center for Constitutional Rights Noura Erakat, Human Rights Attorney
Mary Nazzal-Batayneh, International Human Rights Attorney
Lucy Herschel, Member of 1199/SEIU at Legal Aid Society (for identification only)
Rebecca Kurti, Member of 1199/SEIU at Legal Aid Society (for identification only)
Azalia Torres, Esq., Member of the Association of Legal Aid Attorneys/UAW 2325
Steve Terry, Member of the Association of Legal Aid Attorneys/UAW 2325
Richard Blum, Member of the Association of Legal Aid Attorneys/UAW 2325
Imtiaz Hossain, Member of the Association of Legal Aid Attorneys/UAW 2325
Marlen S. Bodden, Esq., Member of the Association of Legal Aid Attorneys/UAW 2325
Ying-Ying Ma, Member of the Association of Legal Aid Attorneys/UAW 2325
Patricia Ann Lavelle, Member of the Association of Legal Aid Attorneys/UAW 2325
Steven Wasserman, NYC Bar Association Member, Member of the Association of Legal Aid Attorneys/UAW 2325
Mimi Rosenberg, Esq., Producer WBAI Radio
Alexi Shalom, Within Our Lifetime-United for Palestine
Andrew Dalack, Esq.
Noha Arafa, Esq.
Mark Doss, Esq.
Caitlin Steinke, Esq.
Christina Elhaddad, Esq.
Mai Elsadany, Esq.
Sayel Kayed– AMP NJ
David Letwin, Jews for Palestinian Right of Return Nerdeen Kiswani, Within Our Lifetime-United for Palestine
Noura Kiridly, President of the New School Students for Justice in Palestine Amith Gupta, National Lawyers Guild
5 https://static1.squarespace.com/static/548748b1e4b083fc03ebf70e/t/5943f3a31b631ba4db1b1c6d/1497625508 381/Palestine+Legal+Letter+to+CCNY+6.16.pdf