All-Chapter Pre-Convention Super Social

The Chicago Chapter NLG Board and Next Gen invite you to our All-Chapter Pre-Convention Super-Social at Jak’s Tap located at 901 W Jackson Blvd. on Thursday, August 14th 2014 from 5:30-9pm.  Come learn about what is in store for our national convention, which is right around the corner. Don’t miss the chance to grab a drink (cash bar) and connect with all of your favorite NLG people.
Please help us spread the word about this amazing All Chapter Pre-Convention Super-Social and the upcoming Law for the People 2014 Convention. 

Chicago Legal Observer Training on 7/31/14

The National Lawyers Guild of Chicago Legal Observer Program cordially invites you to participate in our training to become a Legal Observer on July 31st, 2014. Legal Observers are volunteers who attend progressive political protests and actions in order to monitor, document, and hopefully deter police and government misconduct. In Chicago, Legal Observers (“LOs”) have supported the movements against public school and mental health clinic closures, environmental movements, Occupy Chicago, the protests against NATO in 2012, and many, many more. More information on the national program can be found here. If you are interested in becoming an LO and lending your eyes and ears to the support of Chicago’s activists, please register to attend and join us.

Thursday, July 31st, 2014
6:00pm – 8:00pm
Multi-Kulti, 1000 N Milwaukee Ave, 4th floor
All attendees must please register here:
This interactive LO training is Chicago specific and includes information on Illinois and Chicago specific laws and law enforcement strategies. We will discuss strategies for effective legal observing, including as preparation for subsequent criminal and civil cases. All LOs who volunteer in Chicago must receive this training. If you were not trained as an LO in 2013 or 2014, you must attend this training or a future training in order to be added to the list of active volunteers.
PLEASE NOTE: We are now training LOs who are not already involved in legal work. All LOs work under the supervision of a National Lawyers Guild affiliated attorney, and all notes or other information from events is privileged and confidential. Many more details about the role of Legal Observers can be found in the NLG Legal Observer Handbook.
You can contact us at this email address ( with any questions. If you cannot attend on July 31st but would like to be informed of future trainings, please let us know that.
Please share this invitation with others who may be interested!

National Lawyers Guild Urges US Government to Cease $3 Billion Annual Military Aid to Israel

July 18, 2014
Tasha Moro
Communications Coordinator
212-679-5100 ext 15

Recent massacre of Palestinians in Gaza and ground invasion violates international law

NEW YORK–The National Lawyers Guild (NLG) expresses its outrage about Israel’s ongoing indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks against Palestinian civilians and civilian objects in the Gaza Strip. Following a barrage of recent airstrikes, the Israeli military on July 17 began a ground invasion of the Gaza Strip.

Power has been cut to the entire Gaza Strip, as close to two million Palestinian civilians huddle in the dark reporting explosions, flares and Israeli airstrikes hitting in the north and eastern parts of the Gaza Strip. As of July 15, Palestinian human rights organizations had documented the killing of 194 Palestinians, including 37 children and 28 women in Gaza.  72.7% of those killed are considered civilians.  At least 1,218 Palestinians have been injured.  1,489 houses have been destroyed or damaged in addition to 23 schools, 34 mosques, an ambulance center, 13 NGO offices, 38 fishing boats and 5 hospitals. According to the UN Office for Humanitarian Assistance, over 17,000 Palestinians have taken shelter in UNRWA schools and another 6,500 have found shelter with families or friends.  While rockets have been fired into Israel by militants in Gaza, they have resulted in one death and little damage.

The population of the Gaza Strip has been living under an Israeli imposed closure for the past seven years, itself constituting a form of collective punishment.  As a result of the siege, 70 percent of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip are dependent on humanitarian assistance and  have not yet even recovered from the damage and destruction caused during previous Israeli offensives in 2008-9 and 2012.

Once again, Israel’s military attack against the occupied Gaza Strip is being portrayed by the US government as an ongoing military conflict, one in which Israel has the right to defend itself from rocket fire from Gaza. President Obama recently wrote in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz that “our commitment to Israel’s security remains ironclad. The US is committed to providing more than $3 billion each year to help finance Israel’s security through 2028.”  Meanwhile, both House (HR 657) and Senate (SR 498) have passed resolutions supporting Israel.

“All this is indicative of the US policy of double standards.  No matter how many innocent Palestinian civilians are killed and injured, how many civilian homes, hospitals, mosques, and schools Israel destroys through its bombs, the US sees Israel as the victim and continues to fund Israeli massacres,” said NLG President Azadeh Shahshahani.

‘Operation Protective Edge’ is taking place in the context of Israel’s belligerent occupation.  “Israel controls Gaza from the air, land, and sea, and is therefore obligated under international law to protect civilians there – as in the West Bank,” said Audrey Bomse, Co-Chair of the NLG Palestine Subcommittee.  “As the Occupier, Israel cannot rely on the argument of self-defense and must act in accordance with the laws regulating the conduct of hostilities and occupation.”

Furthermore, in light of Israel’s widescale punitive military campaign across the West Bank following the disappearance, and death of three young Israeli settlers, blamed – without a shred of evidence to-date – on Hamas, the Israeli assault on the Gaza Strip is indicative of a larger political agenda: to destroy any chance of the Palestinian unity government succeeding, to destroy Gaza’s infrastructure, and to “mow the grass” – a term Israel uses to justify periodic assaults on the Gazan people’s will to resist occupation.

The NLG believes that international humanitarian law must be adhered to.  The principle of distinction requires all parties to distinguish between civilians and combatants, as well as between civilian objects and military objectives. The principle of proportionality prohibits launching an attack, which may be expected to cause loss of civilian life, injury to civilians, or damage to civilian objects, which would be excessive compared to the concrete military advantage anticipated.  In addition, Palestinian civilians are protected under the Fourth Geneva Convention, which obliges Israel, as the Occupying Power, to ensure the well-being and safety of the occupied population and respect Palestinians’ right to life and dignity.

Israel has admitted intentionally targeting Palestinian civilians and homes.  On July 8, the Israeli military announced that it had deliberately bombed the homes of four persons it called senior Hamas activists.  According to international customary law, a permissible military objective is “limited to those objects which by their nature, location, purpose or use make an effective contribution to military action […or] or offers a definite military advantage.”  The punitive targeting of the homes of people who may have links with armed groups, but are not taking active part in hostilities, is impermissible.

Israel’s framing of its military actions in Gaza as “self-defense” is part of a long-standing effort to weaken and change international law.  The US must end its complicity in this effort.

The NLG calls upon the US government to immediately and unequivocally condemn Israel’s indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks against Palestinian civilians and civilian objects. The NLG further calls upon the US government to cease the $3 billion annual military aid to Israel, which enables it to continually violate international law and human rights, including the Palestinian right to self-determination.

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Photo: Smoke rises from buildings in Gaza City following Israeli airstrikes. (Credit: Adel Hana/AP)

NLG Fact-Finding Delegation Calls for End of U.S.-Backed Administrative Detention of Palestinians by Israel

NEW YORK – Approximately 200 Palestinians from the West Bank have been held for months or years by Israeli occupation forces without access to a just legal system, members of the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) learned in a fact-finding delegation from May 18-24, 2014. A formal report is forthcoming, but several observations merit preliminary mention.
About 135 incarcerated Palestinians have begun a hunger strike—and more are joining daily—demanding an end to administrative detention, which under the Fourth Geneva Convention is permitted for only a very short time and in situations of severe urgency. After a widely publicized 2012 mass hunger strike, Israel agreed to improve some security prison conditions throughout the system and release a number of administrative detainees. But it has abrogated many of its promises and re-arrested many of those released, again without charge or trial.
As in 2012, the health of several current strikers is failing fast, exacerbated by inadequate medical care. The NLG joins these Palestinian prisoners, most of whom have now been on hunger strike for over 33 days, in calling for the immediate end of the policy and practice of administrative detention.
The NLG delegation concluded that administrative detention is used primarily as a tool to intimidate and deter political resistance and undermine the popular indigenous leadership. This is in contradiction to Israel’s supposed commitment to diplomatically end its 47-year-old occupation of the West Bank.
The U.S. government is in large part responsible for the increasing oppression of Palestinian life under occupation. “Despite pretending to be an honest broker, the U.S. has continued to provide Israel with more than $3 billion a year in military aid along with diplomatic and other financial backing. That aid must immediately stop,” said Azadeh Shahshahani, NLG President and delegation participant.
The delegation learned that approximately 5,000 Palestinians currently held in military prisons –including hundreds of children – suffer from conditions far worse than those of Israeli convicts and the handful of settlers convicted of security offences such as violent attacks on Palestinians or destruction of Palestinian property. The assassin of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995, for instance, has been allowed to marry and father children in prison – an unheard of perk when it comes to Palestinian “security” prisoners, the vast majority convicted of charges that were political in nature. Military courts rely on thousands of arbitrary military orders to define charges and sentences. 99.74% of Palestinians who go before military courts are convicted, most on the basis of coerced confessions.
Most administrative detainees are  political leaders, including, for instance, elected members of the Palestinian Legislative Council, now defunct in part because of the arrests. A military judge can order them held for up to six months at a time—renewable indefinitely—based on supposed secret evidence of unknown offenses and no trial.
The NLG delegation met with human rights advocates in the West Bank and in Israel and learned of many other techniques used to fortify the occupation and pave the way for Israeli annexation of large swaths of territory. Methods include the oppressive “separation barrier” that drastically restricts movement and violent repression of civil protest against it—including the widely publicized killing of two unarmed teens just before the delegation arrived; relentless land confiscations for expansion of Jewish-only settlements; widespread home demolitions and discriminatory residential rules reminiscent of apartheid in areas where ethnic cleansing is an openly stated goal; and pervasive economic exploitation of labor, resources and consumers. These measures stand in stark violation of international humanitarian law.
On May 23, delegates heard firsthand from the family of a “wanted” 26-year-old, Moataz Washahe. In the town of Bir Zeit in February 2014, hundreds of soldiers rocketed and bulldozed their home, then shot Washahe 65 times, killing him. Washahe was unarmed. “Backing by the U.S. government gives Israel the cover of legitimacy to continue its violations of human rights and the rule of law,” said delegate Andrew Dalack, Co-Chair of the NLG Palestine Subcommittee.
A detailed report from delegation members is forthcoming for submission to Congress, the Obama administration and the general public.
The National Lawyers Guild was formed in 1937 as the nation’s first racially integrated bar association to advocate for the protection of constitutional, human and civil rights.
May 29, 2014
Tasha Moro
Communications Coordinator
212-679-5100, ext. 15

Monday 5/19 – Criminalizing Immigrants: The Case of Rasmea Odeh

In the early morning of Tuesday, October 22, 2013, sixty-five year old Rasmea Odeh, was arrested at her home by Department of Homeland Security agents. She was indicted in federal court that same morning, charged with Unlawful Procurement of Naturalization, an allegation based on answer she gave on a 20 year old immigration application. Rasmea is the Associate Director of the Arab American Action Network (AAAN), and has dedicated her life to serve and empower the Arab American and immigrant communities. Earlier this year, Rasmea received the “Outstanding Community Leader Award” from the Chicago Cultural Alliance. Learn more about the case of Rasmea Odeh, and the selective prosecution of key activists in the Palestinian and anti-war solidarity communities. Rasmea’s criminal trial starts on June 10, 2014 at the U.S. District Courthouse in Detroit.


Media Links:

Info on trial/petition: