Lawfare Suit Hits A BDS Member Where It Hurts (Part 1)


A Palestinian BDS activist, one Suhair Nafal, in June 2018 posted on Facebook photograph of a young female IDF soldier, identified by name as Rebecca Rum, right next to a photo of a Palestinian woman who was killed during one of the Great March of Return protest riots in 2018. The implication was clear: that soldier had been responsible for the death of the Palestinian. This led to many death threats made both to the Israeli soldier, Rebecca Rum, and to her family. The soldier has as a result suffered serious health consequences. Now she is suing that BDS activist for defamation, and asking for $6 million. That ought to get the attention of many BDSers. The story is here.

A former Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) soldier is suing a boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) activist for defamation, alleging that the activist had falsely linked her to the death of a Palestinian nurse.

The Israel-based Shurat HaDin legal center filed the complaint earlier this month on behalf of Rebecca Rum, a dual US-Israeli citizen, in a court in Orange County, California.

According to the complaint, the defendant — identified as Suhair Nafal — juxtaposed a 2014 photo of Rum in her IDF uniform with an image of the nurse, Razan Al-Najar, in a June 2018 Facebook post.

Al-Najar was killed at a “March of Return” demonstration on the Israel-Gaza Strip border, where IDF soldiers were trying to control “thousands of rioters” who were “burning tires” and attempting to breach the security fence, according to the complaint.

“It is in this context that Al-Najar was killed,” the complaint noted.

Razan Al-Najar was taking part in a violent demonstration, organized and lead by members of Hamas, and not in “peaceful protest,” by thousands of Palestinian Arabs. The protesters were trying to breach Israel’s security fence, in order to harm Israeli civilians and soldiers. Some were burning tires, so that the smoke would make it harder for the Israelis to see who, in the same crowd, were flinging Molotov cocktails and other explosives at them, and incendiary kits, let loose over the security fence into Israel. Al-Najar was in the middle of this group of rioters; her killing was not deliberate but clearly accidental, but the posting by Suhair Nafal, juxtaposing on Facebook a 2014 photo of Rebecca Rum when she was an IDF soldier, next to one of Razan Al-Najar, was clearly meant to suggest that Rum herself was responsible for the death of Al-Najar. And that is exactly how it was taken, by those making endless death threats to Rum and her family members .

Nafal listed Rum’s name in her Facebook post, calling Rum an “American Zionist” who immigrated to Israel “to participate in the ethnic cleansing of the indigenous people of Palestine.”

Nafal acknowledged that the photo was taken from a 2014 IDF Facebook page. Rum had made aliyah to Israel in 2012 at the age of 18 and served in the IDF until 2015.

In other words, Suhail Nafal had not made a mistake. She knew all along that the photograph of Rachel Rum she used was taken from a 2014 IDF Facebook page. If Rachel Rum was in the IDF in 2014, given that female soldiers in the IDF serve for two years, then she could not possibly have had anything to do with the death of Razan Al-Najar in 2018. As we now know, Rum served in the IDF from 2013 to 2015; she had been out of the army for three years when Al-Najar was taking part in the demonstration at Israel’s security fence.

Al-Najar was described in Nafal’s post as someone who “was executed by an [I]sraeli sniper while volunteering as a paramedic to save the lives of injured Palestinians peacefully protesting in #Gaza demanding basic human rights after 70 miserable years of brutal colonization.”

Al-Najar was not “executed” by an Israeli sniper. She was shot, unintentionally, in a situation of great confusion and complexity, with rioters running up to the fence, hurling explosives and incendiary kites, then running away, all the while with smoke from burning tires impeding the vision of Israeli soldiers. Nor was she there only to “save the lives of injured Palestinians peacefully protesting.” The Palestinians she describes as “peacefully protesting” were violent rioters, armed with Molotov cocktails, explosives including, in some cases, grenades, and also carrying incendiary kites and explosive balloons that they would let loose to fly into Israeli airspace, that upon landing would set fire to Israeli farmland. They set tires on fire to make it difficult for the Israelis to see who was doing what and where – throwing Molotov cocktails, preparing an incendiary kite, letting loose an explosive balloon. The demonstration was organized and led, as it had been from the very beginning of the Great March of Return, by members of the terror group Hamas.

As for “70 miserable years of brutal colonization” of Gaza by the Israelis, what is Al-Najar thinking of? From 1949 on until 1967, Gaza was run by the Egyptians. In 1967 Israel won Gaza in the Six-Day War. There was no attempt by Israel to “colonize” Gaza. There were a handful of small Israeli settlements created in the Strip, right on the border with Israel, where a successful exporting business of fruits and flowers was created. In 2005, every last Israeli pulled out of Gaza. The Israelis at that point turned the export business, as a going concern, over to the Palestinian Arabs in Gaza, who instead of continuing the business, promptly vandalized and destroyed all 3,000 greenhouses they had been given. Since 2005, Gaza has not been under that non-existent “brutal colonization” by Israel, but under the brutal rule of Hamas. The only time the people of Gaza have in modern times been governed decently was between 1967 and 2005, when not Egypt, nor Hamas, but Israel was in control. But none of that information will stop Suhail Nafal from continuing to denounce “70 miserable years of brutal colonization.”

The Great March of Return, organized and led by the terror group Hamas, has been going on every Friday – with intermittent lapses – since March 30, 2018. Its purpose is to harm Israelis. To this end, the rioters keep trying to breach Israel’s security fence, and even if they cannot breach it, to throw Molotov cocktails and other explosives at Israeli soldiers, as well as letting loose over the fence incendiary kites and explosive balloons that land in Israel, setting aflame thousands of hectares of Israeli land.

A few hours later, Nafal published a photo of a different IDF soldier next to a picture of Al-Najar in a similar post, which did not mention the soldier’s name.

But Nafal did not, as she should have at that point, admit to having wronged Rebecca Rum. While she removed the photo of Rum, she did not tell her Facebook audience, as she so easily could have, that “Rebecca Rum, whose picture I previously posted, had nothing to do with the death of Razan Al-Najjar.” By that time, the damage to Rum had been done: her posted photo was taken by a monstrous regiment of BDS supporters to mean that Rum had been involved in Al-Najar’s killing. And the wave of death threats, to Rum, to her family, to her friends, then began.

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