White & Case back down over backlash over sponsorship of anti-Israel event

White & Case shielded financial giant Morningstar from accusation of enabling boycott of Israel

Omar Shakir, director of Human Rights Watch Israel-Palestine/Getty Images

Adam Kredo • October 18, 2022 04:59

The law firm that helped defend financial giant Morningstar against accusations that it authorizes the boycott of Israel, White & Case, is distancing itself from a campus event last week that targeted the status of Israel as a Jewish state and slandered the country as an “apartheid” nation. .

The event, held at the University of Chicago Law School, was titled “Apartheid: International Law in the Israeli-Palestinian Context” and featured a speaker who saw Israel as a state “ apartheid” which “pursued a policy or intended to maintain the domination of Jewish Israelis over Palestinians. ” A invitation for the event listed White & Case as a sponsor of the event, but following widespread condemnation by pro-Israel groups, the law firm said it had nothing to do with the event.

“White & Case was not a sponsor of this event,” a spokesperson for the firm told Reuters. Free Washington Beacon In Monday. “Our firm supports international law firms, as do other law firms similar to ours, not only at the University of Chicago Law School, but at many law schools across the country. We are not involved in or consulted on any of these programming decisions. Had we been informed in advance of this event, we would have insisted that our firm not be associated with it in any way. [International Law Society] at the University of Chicago.”

For several months, the company has been at the center of a controversy over Morningstar’s alleged support of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which is waging economic warfare against Israel and Jewish businesses. White & Case has a strained relationship with the Jewish people, having defended foreign governments and the German National Railroad in lawsuits brought by Holocaust survivors, as well as historical enemies of the Jewish state, including the Palestinian Authority. Morningstar, which guides investors through its company rating system, is fighting accusations that it supports the BDS movement by demoting companies that work with and in Israel. The financial giant hired White & Case to investigate these allegations and, in a report that sparked even more debate, concluded that Morningstar had engaged in limited but correctable instances of bias against Israel. Morningstar relied on the report to defend itself against claims that it actively supports the BDS movement.

But White & Case is facing renewed scrutiny for supporting the Israeli ‘apartheid’ event at the University of Chicago Law School, with a pro-Israel watchdog telling the Free tag that the law firm may be guilty of anti-Israel bias. Latham & Watkins – which was criticized last week for its financial support of university groups accused of anti-Semitism – is also listed as a sponsor of the event.

The apartheid event featured Omar Shakir, a strong supporter of the BDS movement who works for Human Rights Watch (HRW), an organization long plagued by accusations that it is anti-Israel and promotes anti-Semitism. Shakir, who works as HRW’s director for Israel and Palestine, was expelled from Israel in 2018 for promoting the BDS movement, which is criminalized in the country (Israeli courts upheld the decision in 2019). He also plays a key role in the work that slandered Israel as an apartheid state and accused the country of war crimes to defend itself against Palestinian terrorism.

Shakir last week denounced Israel as an oppressor and denounced its efforts to remain a Jewish state for the Jewish people, according to a partial transcript of his remarks obtained by the Free tag. Israel’s status as a Jewish state constitutes “the intention of those who commit the crimes to maintain the dominance of that dominant group over the marginalized group”, according to Shakir.

Through his work with HRW, Shakir said he determined “that the Israeli authorities pursued a policy or intent to maintain the dominance of Jewish Israelis over Palestinians.” HRW did not respond to a Free tag request for comment on allegations made by Shakir at the event.

The event was widely condemned by pro-Israel groups and is just one recent example of a broad academic movement that seeks to delegitimize Israel and marginalize pro-Israel Jewish students.

“First White & Case provided legal cover for Morningstar, which allegedly engaged in a BDS campaign against Israel, and now they were sponsoring an event with notorious BDS and anti-Israel activist, Omar Shakir of HRW, so that ‘he can perpetuate the anti-Semitic lie that Israel is committing ‘apartheid’,” said Arsen Ostrovsky, international human rights lawyer and CEO of the International Legal Forum. Free tag. “So what about an event sponsoring Kanye West? White & Case customers should really be asking themselves if the company has an anti-Israel bias?”

White & Case has a checkered history with the Jewish people. He would have relegated Jewish employees to small back offices in the early 1930s, when it was common for elite American law firms to discriminate against Jewish employees. Milton S. Gould, a prominent Jewish lawyer, claimed in 1994 that when he worked for White & Case in the early 1930s, “he was sent to a small back office unofficially reserved for Jewish lawyers”, according to a report from 1994. New York Times article. The company also did not officially establish contact with Israel until 1993, according to Bloomberg Business News.

White & Case has also represented foreign governments seeking protection from lawsuits brought by Holocaust survivors. In 1999, the law firm represented the Polish government in a lawsuit brought by Holocaust victims and their descendants seeking the return of property seized by the Nazis. This case was ultimately dismissed by US courts. He also represented in 2012 the German National Railways, which lobbied against legislation that would have allowed Holocaust survivors transported to extermination camps to sue those railways in US courts.

In addition to this work, the company has worked with Israel’s enemies, including the Palestinian Authority and Arab nations historically hostile to the Jewish state.

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