STAMFORD – As anti-Israel rhetoric continues to escalate in the Middle East, and as the Palestinian Authority takes its bid for statehood to the world stage, a local professional group is organizing to help Israel, using the tools of their trade.
Lawyers for Israel is a joint effort of the legal division of the Israeli Consulate in New York and the Office of the Legal Advisor at the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, together with the American Association of Jewish Lawyers & Jurists (AAJLJ).
The effort is led locally by Norine Krasnoger, a Stamford immigration attorney with Krasnogor & Krasnogor LLP, and is intended to combat attempts to wrongfully accuse Israel of violations of law.
Krasnogor decided to start a local chapter this summer after attending a Lawyers for Israel international conference on legal challenges in Israeli policy and advocacy. Through presentations from U.S. legal experts and representatives of the Israeli legal system, military, Foreign Service, and academia, participants received background information and analysis to become informed legal advocates for Israel.
“One of the broad concepts that is both fascinating and frightening is that, over the past several years, the definition of international law has been distorted to the extent that concepts of human rights law are inappropriately being co-opted,” Krasnogor says. “There have been attempts to bring Israel before the International Court of Justice, an action that waters down and distorts international law. International law and the laws of war allow states to defend themselves. Israel does not violate those laws, but charges brought against her confuse human rights law. When Israel is accused of harming civilians or not allowing the flotilla to reach Gaza, the accusers are inaccurately using human rights law where it doesn’t belong.”
This is one example of “lawfare.” Pro-Israel advocates have co-opted the term, Krasnogor says, to describe their use of law to counter attempts to delegitimize Israel and accuse her of violating international law.
Krasnogor brings to Lawyers for Israel not only a history of Israel advocacy, but her national involvement in the Soviet Jewry Movement of the 1970s, where she saw “lawfare” used successfully. “There were very prominent lawyers, Jewish and non-Jewish, who contested the imprisonment of the Refuseniks and pointed out that the Soviet Union was violating the Helsinki Final Act, to which they were signatories,” she says. “To me, the legal approach is a natural one, and we’ve got to push back against the concept that Israel has violated international law.”
Krasnogor also credits the movement for her choice of profession.
“Immigration law is a flip side to my advocating to get Jews out of the Soviet Union,” she says. “There is also a personal link: I am the grand-daughter of immigrants, and I’m always feeling my Jewish roots. I’m always very aware that we stand on our grandparents’ shoulders, and that there but for the grace of God go I.”
Krasnogor plans to bring the national president of AAJLJ to Stamford this fall for a kickoff meeting.
“We hope to influence everything from the UN body to the International Court of Justice to a case that comes before the U.S. Supreme Court,” Krasnogor says. “The distortion of international law is worldwide. Israel is attacked by many forces, including all kinds of UN subcommittees, the European Council, and Turkey. So our aim is to get out there and counter every single legal inaccuracy and attack that we can. It’s a big task and you have to start somewhere.”
For more information about Lawyers for Israel in Stamford contact firstname.lastname@example.org or (203) 353-8662.