In the Media

Director Eugene Kontorovich in the Wall Street Journal on anti-BDS laws, free speech, and ice cream.


June was a terrible month for the anti-Israel boycott, divestment and sanctions movement. On June 22, in Arkansas Times v. Waldrip, the Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals broadly upheld the constitutionality of anti-BDS laws. A week later Unilever, the multinational parent company of Ben & Jerry’s, overruled the boycott of Israel that the ice-cream company announced a year ago, and it gave the Israel-based licensee permanent ownership of Ben & Jerry’s ice-cream making in Israel and the West Bank. In a jab at the Vermont subsidiary’s leadership, Unilever noted it “repudiates unequivocally any form of discrimination or intolerance.” . . .

Efforts to push companies to boycott Israel won’t fade away soon. The primary goal isn’t economic harm, but making it culturally and politically acceptable to shun the Jewish state. What is most important about both the vindication of the state anti-BDS laws and the repudiation of the ice-cream embargo is their underlying message: The moralistic rhetoric of Israel boycotts can’t disguise their bigotry.

Find the entire piece here.

Director Eugene Kontorovich quoted in Fox News, Washington Free Beacon, and Arkansas Democrat Gazette discussing the recent 8th Circuit decision upholding Arkansas’ anti-BDS statute.

June 23, 2022

Eugene Kontorovich is an expert on international law and director of the Scalia Law School’s Center for the Middle East and International Law at George Mason.

“Progressive groups have used bogus constitutional arguments as pretexts to protect the discriminatory treatment of primarily Jewish groups,” Kontorovich said in a statement to Fox News Digital. “Embarrassed to publicly defend BDS itself, they have claimed to oppose such laws out of legal scruple. (On Wednesday), that pretext has been removed, and Congress can move forward with confidence to pass federal anti-BDS legislation.”

Find the entire Fox News piece here.

“Progressive groups have used bogus constitutional arguments as prerexts to protect the discriminatory treatment of primarily Jewish groups. Embarrassed to publicly defend BDS itself, they have claimed to oppose such laws out of legal scruple. Today that pretext has been removed, and Congress can move forward with confidence to pass federal anti-BDS legislation,” said Professor Eugene Kontorovich, who has helped draft many state anti-BDS laws and participated in the 8th Circuit litigation.

Find the entire Free Beacon piece here.

Among those supporting Wednesday’s ruling was Eugene Kontorovich, a law professor at George Mason University. He said the university’s Center for the Middle East and International Law organized a friend-of-the-court brief supported by 11 constitutional law professors.

“The ruling demonstrates that laws protecting primarily Jews from discrimination, like this one, are no different from those [protecting] gays from discrimination. Just like states refuse to do business with companies that discriminate — that is refuse to do business — with people on the basis of their sexual orientation, here they extend that to Israel identity,” Kontorovich said in an email.

Find the entire Arkansas Democrat Gazette piece here.

In The Wall Street Journal, Director Eugene Kontorovich discusses the “glaring double standard” of the Presbyterian Church of the United States of America (PCUSA) on the question of settlements. PCUSA loudly criticizes Israel’s presence in the West Bank, while financially and politically supporting Armenian settlements in Azerbaijan.

June 16, 2022

The Presbyterian Church of the United States of America, whose annual General Assembly begins this weekend, has long been pugnaciously anti-Israel. It routinely passes resolutions accusing the Jewish state of “settler colonialism,” “apartheid,” and “illegal occupation.” Yet the PCUSA has a long-established program dedicated to supporting settlements in occupied territory—and funds a variety of pro-settler charities.

Find the entire piece here.

In The Wall Street Journal, Director Eugene Kontorovich reflects on the latest discussions surrounding “occupied lands” within academic spaces.

June 10, 2022

It’s no coincidence that these land acknowledgments are proliferating at formal ceremonies, even as such patriotic rituals as the Pledge of Allegiance and the playing of the national anthem are under attack. They replace a concise affirmation of national pride with a dense confession of national original sin.

Most land acknowledgments are only recommended acts of piety, not obligatory devotions. But when a university recommends such statements at all events and suggests that professors include them in all course syllabi, websites and even email signatures, all but the bravest professors are likely to fall in line.

Find the entire piece here.

Associate Director Erielle Davidson encourages Team Biden to walk away from the Iran Deal negotiations in Vienna.

May 23, 2022

From Washington Times:

The Biden administration’s myopic and irresponsible obsession with striking a deal with Iran is not only wasting limited American diplomatic resources but also reminding the Iranian regime that America is woefully unprepared to steer the Western world through emerging security crises. In Afghanistan, we exited carelessly and sloppily, but in Iran, we refuse to leave the table, still clinging to the prospect of some arrangement that might vaguely resemble the deal concluded by former President Barack Obama in 2015.

Find the entire piece here.

Associate Director Erielle Davidson exposes the false narratives surrounding the Temple Mount in National Review.

May 20, 2022

From National Review:

For those who allegedly care deeply about religious freedom, the prohibition on Jewish prayer at the Temple Mount should shock you. The absurdity of the mental gymnastics committed by every party, from the Biden administration to the Islamic Waqf, cannot be overstated. The notion that Jewish prayer must be silenced in order to keep violent rioters at bay is absurd. It is high time the international community acknowledges the absurdity of referring to prayer as “provocation.” For no other religion would such euphemisms be reserved.

Find the entire piece here.

Associate Director Erielle Davidson warns of modern “peace processes” in light of Russia’s invasion into Ukraine in Newsweek.

March 3, 2022

From Newsweek:

Amidst the debate over how best to respond to Russia’s recent invasion of Ukraine, it’s worth recalling a bleak truth: we convinced Ukraine to give up its greatest tool of deterrence—its nuclear weapon arsenal…

Ukraine is not the only country the U.S. and European countries have insisted make dangerous concessions for paper peace with an undemocratic, bellicose neighbor. In fact, this has been the entire blueprint of Western democracies’ approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: push the Israelis to cede strategic territorial depth in the hopes that governments run by terrorists will behave. In exchange, Israel would ride a brief wave of Western plaudits and vague assurances of assistance, if the Palestinians were to seek to destabilize or attack the smaller Israel.

Find the entire piece here.

Director Eugene Kontorovich criticizes Amnesty International’s most recent report on Israel.

February 8, 2022

From The Wall Street Journal:

 [A] sign of apartheid could be a government policy that bans real-estate sales or transactions to the disfavored group. Apartheid is suggested by policies that carve out massive zones where the disfavored group cannot live or work, create ethnically homogenous zones, and restrict the disfavored group to ghettos. One might consider it apartheid if a government enforced a policy of extrajudicial execution of members of a disfavored group.

All these policies are practiced in the West Bank and Gaza—by the Palestinian Authority government against Jews. What makes the “Israel apartheid” meme particularly despicable is that is not just a lie, it is an inversion of the truth. In all areas controlled by Israel, Jews and Arabs mix openly. Yet the Palestinian Authority has for decades ruled over Gaza and about half the West Bank—and all the areas under its jurisdiction are Jew-free.

Find the entire piece here.

Associate Director Erielle Davidson explains the recent Texas decision on an anti-BDS statute in The Algemeiner.

February 4, 2022

From The Algemeiner:

Last Friday’s decision by District Court Judge Andrew Hanen of Texas has been lauded as a landmark victory by supporters of Israel boycotts — an irony, given the opinion actually upholds the constitutionality of state laws that deem such boycotts discriminatory and restrict government involvement in companies that adopt such boycotts.

The recent wave of anti-BDS legislation has been adopted to protect people with Israeli connections from facing discrimination. “Boycotting Israel” has never meant boycotting the government of Israel — it has always meant boycotting the people of Israel, the vast majority of whom are Jewish. Anti-BDS laws do not reach all private contracts, but rather prohibit companies with state contracts from engaging in boycotts of those with Israeli ties.

Find the entire piece here.

Director Eugene Kontorovich quoted in The Jerusalem Post discussing Amnesty International’s Latest Apartheid Accusation against Israel.

February 2, 2022

From The Jerusalem Post:

George Mason University Law professor Eugene Kontorovich said that the apartheid accusation was an attempt to resurrect the United Nations General Assembly 1974 Zionism is Racism resolution that was rescinded in 1991.

“Apartheid is just a rehash of the UN’s old “Zionism is Racism” line. America, and most democracies, are said to struggle with systemic racism – but Amnesty does not call them Apartheid states.

Because “Apartheid”, like “Zionism is Racism” before it, is a call for the dismantling of the State of Israel,” said Kantorovich…

Find the entire piece here.

Associate Director Erielle Davidson in The Washington Times on Iranian Bad Faith during JCPAO Negotiations.

January 25, 2022

From The Washington Times:

Throughout the United States’ membership in the Iran Nuclear Deal and even prior to the deal’s conclusion, Iran had been engaging in nefarious activities, terrorism, advanced weapons and ballistic missile development, and proxy conflicts. What we are witnessing today does not represent a collapse of Iranian behavioral norms but rather a continuation of the very actions that supposedly justified the woefully insufficient Iran Nuclear Deal initially.

Find the entire piece here.

Associate Director Erielle Davidson in National Review on the Myths Surrounding the Sheikh Jarrah Evictions.

January 21, 2022

From National Review:

The property from which the Salihye family has been evicted, in particular, is land that was returned to its lawful Jewish owners following the Jordanian occupation. It was then owned by a Palestinian hotelier, who similarly attempted to evict the tenants, to no avail. The land was eventually expropriated by the Jerusalem Municipality, a local arm of the Israeli government, to build schools for the local community.

What the Jerusalem Municipality seeks to do with the land is a noble initiative — it intends to build an educational complex for children with special needs who reside in East Jerusalem. The school will specifically serve the Arab community, and, more importantly, a portion of the community that is currently deeply underserved.

Find the entire piece here.

Director Eugene Kontorovich in The Wall Street Journal discussing the State Department’s latest moves to open PA Consulate in Jerusalem.

October 25, 2021

From The Wall Street Journal:

The consulate plan is a way to undo in part President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem without paying the political price of fully repudiating a move that had broad support even among Democrats. Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh understands this and recently crowed that Mr. Blinken’s consulate is a stepping stone to a recognition of Palestinian sovereignty in Jerusalem.

Under settled international law, Israel’s consent is required for any diplomatic mission to be opened on its territory. Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and Justice Minister Gideon Saar have all forcefully rejected the idea, as has the opposition Likud party. Jerusalem is one of the few issues that unite Israelis across the political spectrum.

Find the entire piece here.

Director Eugene Kontorovich in The Wall Street Journal on Ben & Jerry’s Israel Boycott

July 21, 2021

From The Wall Street Journal:

Ben & Jerry’s operates in Israel through a licensee, an Israeli company that has been with the brand for 30 years and operates one of its few foreign manufacturing facilities. After a social-media pressure campaign from anti-Israel leftists, the company insisted that the Israeli licensee not sell ice cream in parts of Jerusalem, including the Jewish Quarter, and the West Bank, much of which is controlled by the Palestinian Authority and parts of which are under Israeli civil jurisdiction.

Ben & Jerry’s knew this was an offer the licensee had to refuse. Parts of what the company calls “occupied Palestinian territory” Israel (as well as the U.S.) considers sovereign Israeli territory. Israeli law bars boycotts of Israeli citizens, Jewish or Arab, based on their location. So Unilever cancelled the Israeli Ben & Jerry’s entirely because it wouldn’t engage in a secondary boycott.

Find the entire piece here.

Director Eugene Kontorovich Quoted in The Washington Times on the Topic of Israeli Sovereignty over Judea and Samaria

May 20, 2020

From The Washington Times:

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his new coalition government, sworn in Sunday, now face a daunting decision. After decades of failed Palestinian-Israeli “peace processes,” the Trump administration has indicated that it would not object if Israelis were to extend sovereignty to parts of the West Bank.

“Annexation” is the term frequently used. But that’s imprecise because, as international legal scholar Eugene Kontorovich has noted, annexation means taking over “territory that is under the sovereignty of another country.” The West Bank is not that.

Find the entire piece here.

Director Eugene Kontorovich Pens Op-Ed in The Jerusalem Post Discussing the Importance of San Remo

April 30, 2020

From The Jerusalem Post:

In San Remo, the League of Nations decided to turn much of the former Ottoman Empire into new nation-states: Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Jordan all emerged from this process, along with Israel. None of these previously existed as states, but today their legitimacy is unquestioned because they arose from the mandate process. More importantly, all the states that arose from mandates inherited the Mandatory borders: so San Remo explains why Israel’s borders include Judea and Samaria.

UN Resolution 181, was a legally non-binding suggestion to take most of that away from the Jews. The difference in how they are remembered may be due to the different contemporaneous reactions to the events. Certainly the League of Nations Mandate delighted the Zionist leadership, which talked about making it an annual holiday.

Read more here.

Director Eugene Kontorovich Quoted in Jewish News Syndicate on the UN Blacklisting of Israeli Businesses in Judea and Samaria

February 12, 2020

From Jewish News Syndicate:

International-law expert Eugene Kontorovich said “the UNHRC’s blacklist is nothing more than attempt to demonize companies for doing business with Jews.”

“Nothing in international law prohibits Israeli or other companies from doing business in the West Bank, regardless of how one views the status of that territory,” he continued. “Many European countries have explicitly stated that there is no legal obstacle to such business.”

“Even the UNHRC itself knows that doing business in disputed territories is not legally problematic,” added Kontorovich. “As our research has shown, many of the world’s leading multinationals do business in occupied territories around the world. The UNHRC is not making any efforts to blacklist those companies and has never suggested their actions are problematic.

Read more here.

Director Eugene Kontorovich Quoted in Deutsche Welle on Israeli-Sudanese Relations

February 4, 2020

From Deutsche Welle:

“Going forward, the challenge will be in ensuring the Khartoum government [of Sudan] follows through, and that the rapprochement is not undermined by more extremist elements there,” said Eugene Kontorovich, director of the Center for the Middle East and International Law at George Mason University Scalia Law School.

“Khartoum was once the place from which the Arab world rejected Israel,” Kontorovich told DW. “Now it’s the place from which they reject rejectionism.”

Read more here.

Director Eugene Kontorovich Quoted in The Algemeiner on Trump Peace Plan

February 3, 2020

From The Algemeiner:

Perhaps the Trump plan’s most important achievement is to put on record the truth about the Jews’ unique rights to the land of Israel. As it states, the areas that Israel is being asked to yield to the Palestinians nevertheless constitute “territory to which Israel has asserted valid legal and historical claims, and which are part of the ancestral homeland of the Jewish people.”

As for the loud protests that Israel is being allowed to “annex the West Bank,” professor of international law Eugene Kontorovich has tweeted that the United States is not proposing to recognize Israeli annexation of the territory: “It is recognizing that Israel has always had a legitimate claim on this land.” In other words, the application of Israeli sovereignty is to be based on its preexisting rights to the land.

Read more here.

Director Eugene Kontorovich Testifies before a House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Antisemitic Terrorism

January 15, 2020

On Wednesday, January 15, Director Eugene Kontorovich testified before a House Homeland Security subcommittee on “Confronting the Rise in Domestic Antisemitic Terrorism” in Washington, D.C.  He reflected on the impact that the pernicious “Boycott, Divest, Sanction” Movement has had on the rise of antisemitism in the United States and on the potential for the anti-Israel movement to provide a safe haven to those wishing to engage in antisemitism within polite society. Professor Kontorovich’s full testimony may be found here.

Eugene Kontorovich, law professor at the Antonin Scalia Law School, testifies before a House Homeland Security subcommittee on “Confronting the Rise in Domestic Anti-Semitic Terrorism” in Washington, DC, on Jan. 15, 2019. Photo: Jay Mallin


Director Eugene Kontorovich, along with ten other constitutional law professors, files amicus brief in the Fifth Circuit in defense of statewide anti-BDS legislation.

September 6, 2019

Twenty-seven states have adopted measures preventing state
government agencies from entering into certain kinds of economic
relationships with businesses that discriminate against persons or
businesses that have a connection to the State of Israel. In addition,
federal law has since 1977 made it a criminal offense for American
businesses to comply with boycotts of Israel organized by foreign countries,
such as the Arab League boycott that has been maintained
since the creation of Israel.

The district court opinion now before this Court, and the
subsequent decision of the same court rejecting Texas’s argument that
plaintiffs’ claims are moot because the statute plaintiffs had challenged
was no longer on the books, are the product of two errors….

Find the entire brief here.