The Israeli government earlier this year released an alarming report, “Terrorists in Suits,” on the campaign to boycott, divest from and sanction Israel, known as the BDS movement. The report documents the movement’s significant and widespread connections to designated terrorist organizations, and demonstrates that rather than the feel-good civil rights campaign described as such by its founders and decision-makers, BDS is actually a front for terror.
As the report indicates, the primary goal of BDS, along with the terrorist groups that supply them directly with financial resources and personnel, is the end of Israel as a Jewish state.
For anyone still deciding whether to support a boycott of Israel, understanding the incestuous relationships between terrorist organizations and BDS may give you cause to reconsider the motivations of this movement.
A terrorist connection also opens the door for the federal government to take legal action against this discriminatory organization forcing its foreign policy on America.
Twenty-six states already have anti-BDS legislation on the books, distancing themselves from commercial relationships with those that advocate for an anti-Israel boycott. This is a defensive tactic — a way to publicly oppose doing business with a movement that brazenly violates anti-discrimination principles. However, anti-BDS laws do not target the source of BDS, those that hide in the background, providing the financing and ultimately calling the shots.
With the exposure of the relationship between BDS and designated terror organizations, a new legal strategy is possible to hit the movement where it really hurts.
That is, using the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) to penalize BDS movement founders with ties to terrorism.
RICO was enacted to target mafia bosses, offering the U.S. government a way to hold organized criminal kingpins responsible for crimes committed by their underlings but initiated by the leader’s instructions.
In the ensuing years, RICO has been used not only against organized criminals, but also against a variety of organizations in which the leadership keeps a distance from those in their enterprises that are committing illegal acts.
The BDS movement is an ideal structure for using RICO prosecution, as laid out in a scholarly legal article: “The BDS Movement: That Which We Call a Foreign Boycott, by Any Other Name, Is Still Illegal” (pages 95-120).
RICO enables the government to hold accountable the BDS leaders that are managing the movement. These individuals and groups with associations to terrorist organizations would otherwise be free from legal responsibility, since rather than participating directly in criminal activity, they are directing others to perform their bidding. They are a bridge between terrorism and those on the ground in the U.S. and other countries spouting anti-Israel hate.
In the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, Islamic terror attacks against the United States, RICO was amended to broaden its scope significantly and to provide the government with a wide-ranging weapon against global terrorist organizations.
RICO enables criminal prosecutions initiated by either the federal government or states, with penalties including prison time and/or significant monetary fines. In addition, RICO civil cases can be brought by the government or a private party (company/individual) redressing losses due to BDS-advocated actions.
The Zachor Legal Institute (where I am COO) has submitted a detailed legal analysis and evidentiary support to the Department of Justice on this very topic. The request outlines the RICO case against BDS, along with detailing BDS ties to terrorism, and asks the Department of Justice to open an investigation. Only with the full weight of the government can all those truly responsible for BDS be held criminally liable.
In the meantime, because many states have RICO laws similar to those of the federal government, I expect that a state will soon decide to initiate RICO criminal proceedings against a BDS organization with terrorist ties in their state. In addition, companies that have experienced financial loss due to BDS can be expected to bring civil RICO cases against terror-associated BDS affiliates responsible for that loss.
With the support of the public and their representatives in government, I believe that before the end of 2019, we will see the first case of a BDS organization with ties to terrorism in court, having to answer for promoting terror and hate in the United States. Certainly governments and organizations supporting BDS will financially reward convicted supporters of terror, as is their normal mode of operation, but let’s see how these terrorist financiers and leaders hold up in jail. I have doubts whether terrorists in suits will transition well into prison garb.
• Ron Machol is the chief operating officer of the Zachor Legal Institute, a legal think tank.