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Lawfare Group Threatens to Sue Coca-Cola Over BDS


Israeli legal rights group Shurat HaDin-Israel Law Center has threatened to sue Coca-Cola on Monday, after Palestinian Arab franchise leader Zahi Khouri openly called for a boycott against Israel.

Attorneys Nitsana Darshan-Leitner and Robert Tolchin sent a strongly worded warning letter to Muhtar Kent, CEO of Coca-Cola, over Khouri's actions. "This letter is a warning to the Coca-Cola Company that it should rescind its franchise agreement with the Palestinian National Beverage Company, headed by Zahi Khouri, who openly advocates for BDS against Israel," the letter warns. "The Coca-Cola Company should not affiliate itself with any person or entity calling for a boycott or similar effort against the Israeli government or the nation's manufacturers, companies, products or services.

"Khouri has supported for BDS in at least two op-ed pieces published in US media outlets," the two attorneys note. "Specifically, the Orlando Sentinel published an op-ed by Khouri in which he advocated for the BDS movement. On May 11, 2015, The Hill published another op-ed by Khouri in which he expressed his support for BDS and criticized Congress for trying to pass anti-BDS legislation," they continue. "Khouri has also made patently false and incendiary statements accusing Israel of stealing Palestinian land and culture and comparing Israel to apartheid South Africa.

"We wish to put The Coca-Cola Company on notice that the BDS movement's efforts are unlawful racial discrimination on the basis of national origin and/or race, creed and religion under the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination ("Anti-Racism Convention") and numerous U.S. state and federal statutes," the attorneys state.

Shurat Hadin also noted that Coca-Cola is breaking its own company bylaws in continuing to employ Khouri. The Company must comply with all applicable trade restrictions and boycotts imposed by the U.S. government. . . These restrictions include, for example, prohibitions on interaction with identified terrorist organizations or narcotics traffickers. Sanctions for non-compliance can be severe, including fines and imprisonment for responsible individuals, and the Company may be prohibited from further participation in certain trade. The Company also must abide by U.S. anti-boycott laws that prohibit companies from participating in any international boycott not sanctioned by the U.S. government.

"Participants in the BDS movement act with the clear purpose and actual effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise on an equal footing of the human rights and/or fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural fields of those persons and organizations whom they seek to boycott, divest from and sanction," Shurat Hadin added.

The lawfare group also combats the common misconception that calling for an Israel boycott is part of exercising the right to Freedom of Speech. "A boycott is not protected by the freedom-of-speech language of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution because a boycott is not speech, it is action," it noted. "Calls for and instruction in implementing unlawful actions are not protected speech (see Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project, 561 U.S. ___, 130 S. Ct. 2705 (2010)."

"In light of the above, we urge The Coca-Cola Company to comply with U.S. law and its own Code of Business Conduct and to rescind its franchise agreement with the Palestinian National Beverage Company headed by Zahi Khouri," it concludes. "As the French telecom-services firm Orange recently made clear, The Coca-Cola Company should also make clear that it will not support any kind of boycott against Israel."

IDF to Establish New Cyber Command

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IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot concluded on Monday that, in light of the challenges the IDF faces in the cyber sphere, a cyber command should be established in order for it to oversee all operational activity in the cyber dimension. According to the IDF Spokesperson's Unit, the new command will be established over a time period of two years. A multi-branch team will be responsible for presenting the Chief of Staff with a development plan. The new command is of utmost importance in the mission to adapt the IDF to the dynamic changes and challenges of modern warfare.

"The IDF is required to excel in every aspect of war, including the cyber dimension, which is becoming more significant every day. This new command will empower the IDF to perform better in these fronts and will utilize the technological and human advantage that already exists in Israel," said Eisenkot.

The decision will be submitted to the authorization of Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon, the IDF said. The announcement of the new cyber command came a day after Israeli cybersecurity company ClearSky said it had uncovered a massive Iranian cyber attack against Israel. Attacks were launched against 40 Israeli targets and 500 other targets worldwide, including against reserve generals in the IDF, a security consulting company, and researchers, the firm told Army Radio.

ClearSky believes that an Iranian cyber group known as the Ajax Security Team, operating with the support of the regime in Tehran, is behind the attack. "Several characteristics of the attacks have led us to the conclusion that an Iranian threat actor is the likely culprit. We assume, though do not have direct evidence, that it is being supported by the Iranian regime, or performed by the regime itself," the report says.

The cyber attack, the report notes, involved efforts to hack computers of various organizations and individuals not only in Israel but also in Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Venezuela, the United States and other countries.

The hackers, ClearSky says, employed numerous methods to break into the computers of the victims. They posed, for example, as journalists and sent targets an email that included a request for an interview; attached to the email was a file with a hidden virus, which would infect the victim's computer as soon as the file was downloaded.

Half of Israelis Willing to Share Emails to Combat Cyber Attacks


Israeli citizens are extremely concerned at the possibility of cyber attacks against the Jewish state, with half of the country's Jewish population prepared to allow the state to monitor their online activity for national security purposes, a new study found.

According to the study conducted by three University of Haifa researchers, Ha'aretz reported Monday, 53% of respondents would agree to government monitoring of their personal email accounts and social media sites. Another 37% supported government oversight of social media websites, while 28% agreed that certain websites should be blocked.

Respondents revealed their grave worries over a cyber attack, with 65% fearing such an attack would bring critical damage to Israel's traffic and water systems, while 50% believed a cyber attack could cause the Jewish state's civilian population physical harm. Close to 85% of respondents said they believed government website and military sites would be the primary targets of any possible cyber attack against Israel.

When asked how the government should respond to a major attack, 87% suggested a counter cyber attack, while 13% argued in favor of a missile attack or airstrikes on the perpetrators.

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