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Editorial Article

Tel Aviv University - The Terrorist-Financed NGO Gisha run by Tel Aviv U. Law Professors Kenneth Mann and Sari Bashi

Lee Kaplan, www.IsraCampus.Org.il
3/7/2009

It is not desirable to cultivate a respect for law, so much as a respect for right.” - Henry David Thoreau

If you want to get to know Tel Aviv University Law Professors Kenneth Mann and Sari Bashi, you need also to discuss the NGO, Gisha, which they founded and for which they list themselves as legal counsels. As leaders of Gisha, Mann and Bashi are two of the many lawyers in Israel who are working diligently to death and hasten realization of the goals and political agenda of the Palestinian Arabs. In particular, this is manifested in their latest work opposing the Jewish state’s security procedures in Gaza, better known as Hamastan.

Until very recently on leave from Tel Aviv University’s Law School in order to serve as Israel's first Chief Public Defender, Professor Kenneth Mann has also held the positions of distinguished visiting professor at Rutgers Law School and was a senior research associate at Yale Law School. At TAU he has taught criminal procedure, evidence, trial practice, and supervised a legal-aid clinic in criminal law. Part of Mann’s ideological commitment to aid the “Palestinians” may have been gleaned at the University of California at Berkeley, where he earned his BA and, then an M.A. from the Center for the Study of Law and Society at UC Berkeley. He earned his J.D. from Berkeley’s Boalt Law School which includes quite a few radical and anti-Israel faculty members. Sari Bashi is an American-Israeli attorney who teaches currently at TAU’s law school and graduated from Yale Law School in 2006. She co-founded Gisha with Mann shortly after her graduation.

Gisha’s mission, according to Mann and Bashi, is as a legal NGO whose purpose is "litigation and advocacy that aim to help individuals exercise their right to freedom of movement while working for systemic change in military practices and abuses at Israeli border-crossings and checkpoints…exploiting "untapped potential for law reform effectuated through intensive engagement with the military bureaucracy." It has an emphasis on "the Gaza Strip, a severely underserved area whose viability depends on the ability of people and goods to move in and out of its borders." Prior to founding Gisha, while in Israel under a Fellowship grant, Sari Bashi worked at the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, a leftist anti-Israel NGO masquerading as a “human rights organization.” ACRI has even programs to encourage IDF soldiers to desert or refuse to serve. Mann now serves as Gisha’s Legal Adviser and Chairperson of its Advisory Committee.

Gisha uses the Israeli courts to sue the Jewish state for taking security measures. Mann and Bashi feel that the same 1.5 million Arabs who elected and cheer on Hamas and Fatah terrorism are victims of “collective punishment” by the Israeli government, and suffer under “restricted movement.”

The alternative to such “collective punishment” is to sit back passively while thousands of rockets are fired at Israeli civilians. Israel needs to control the Gaza borders and entry points and has a right to do so under international law. Israel deported 8,000 Jews before it left Gaza as a price paid for peace, and what it received in return was Islamofascist terror. Mann and Bashi evidently blame Israel for all that and have filed suit against the Israeli government over security micro-procedures. In other words, people with expertise in law think they have the right to second-guess the military’s own leadership on questions of how to fight terror.

Gisha receives the majority of its funding from Echoing Green, another NGO that also funds such openly pro-terror groups as the International Solidarity Movement. As an indication of their bias, Echoing Green named ISM co-founders and leaders Adam Shapiro and Huwaida Arraf (both of whom have admitted they consider suicide bombings “legitimate resistance” and the latter has openly admitted she works with Hamas, PFLP and Palestinian Islamic Jihad) as among the ten best “social entrepreneurs of the year,” and awarded them a $90,000 grant. Arraf only yesterday was arrested at sea by the IDF Navy while trying to smuggle goods into Gaza for Hamas and to open up a sea-borne weapons smuggling route for Iran. This was Arraf’s seventh voyage and she even received a medal from Hamas for her efforts. Gisha and Sari Bashi received over one million dollars from Echoing Green for Gisha’s project to ease the “movement” of Palestinians, “movement” that so often facilitates terrorist atrocities. Meanwhile. Echoing Green, the source for Gisha’s funding, gets money from Saudi Arabia.

Kenneth Mann gave a law lecture on “Israeli apartheid” for the venomously anti-Israel Alternative Information Center, itself with close ties to the ISM and “anarchist” groups. Bashi obsessively uses the words “apartheid” and “collective punishment” in describing Israeli security procedures. Gisha makes little attempt to hide its political agenda and bias. In an interview with the Jerusalem Post ("One on One: 'Control Creates Responsibility'", Feb. 6, 2008), Gisha Director Bashi, called Israel’s Gaza policy "illegal, dangerous and stupid." Bashi was sharply challenged by Avraham Bell's January 2008 article (International Law and Gaza: The Assault on Israel's Right to Self-Defense, Jan. 2008). In response, Bashi simply repeated standard one-sided claims without providing a serious legal analysis regarding the historical status of Gaza.

Gisha has a highly selective interest in applying international law to the Middle East conflict. On March 2, Gisha issued a statement that called on “both sides of the conflict” to “remove civilians from the cycle of combat.” How nice, except there is no “cycle of conflict” and only the Palestinians cynically use civilians as political pawns to get media points. While noting that “the Hamas organization and militants in Gaza must immediately stop the firing of rockets on towns in southern Israel”, Gisha drew a parallel between these attacks and Israel’s response, condemning Israel's “undifferentiated firing into crowded population centers.” Gisha did not condemn Hamas’ practice of launching rockets from within civilians areas (behind human shields), a practice that is clearly a violation of international law.

Mann frequently drifts into anti-Israel ranting. According to Mann,
 “The Israeli government's definition of a ‘humanitarian crisis’ would require human deaths. Now, there have been deaths -- among the chronically ill, who were not permitted to leave the Gaza Strip for medical care that is not available (or no longer available) there, due to the closure. There have been deaths among those who are trying to bring the necessities of daily life in through the tunnels. And, of course, there were many deaths during Operation Cast Lead -- including an unusual spike in maternal and neo-natal deaths due to lack of care, as the UN has reported. It is not as if nobody knew. Many experts have stated that this policy of collective punishment against an entire civilian population under a belligerent military occupation is illegal under international law.”

A humanitarian crisis among the Palestinians actually consists of a situation in which the terrorists do not having any foreign aid money to steal. Meanwhile Mann laments as part of his “humanitarian crisis” the deaths among those “who are trying to bring the necessities of daily life through the tunnels.” The necessities of life these people bring in are explosives and rocket components. If Mann wants his Palestinians to have easy access to civilian supplies, maybe he should get them to stop shooting rockets and release Gilad Shalit.

For Gisha and its lawyers a one million dollar grant must help alleviate any potential guilt pangs about their serving as apologists for the misbehavior of Palestinians. Sari Bashi mentions that her family in Israel used to yell at her over for what she does, but now they just avoid the subject and invite her over for family gatherings. It would be interesting to learn what they will say about her funding coming indirectly from Saudi Arabia and from groups that want the end of the Jewish state and to excuse the murder of Israelis as “legitimate resistance.”

It’s troubling to think that the next generation of Israeli lawyers responsible for litigating in arenas of international law are being taught by such radicals.

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Op-Ed articles appearing on IsraCampus.Org.il are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the opinion of IsraCampus.Org.il