|Founded||2003, Tel Aviv, Israel|
|Founders||Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, Esq.|
|Products||Fighting Global Terror Via the Courts|
Shurat HaDin, Israel Law Center (ILC), founded in 2003, is a Tel Aviv-based civil rights non-governmental organization focused on representing terror victims and using litigation against groups that they accuse of supporting terrorism.
- 1 History
- 2 Organization
- 3 Prominent cases
- 3.1 Judgement against Iran and Syria
- 3.2 Sderot
- 3.3 Alien Torts Act and the Torture Victims Protection Act
- 3.4 Israeli collaborators
- 3.5 UBS bank
- 3.6 Iranian families and diplomats
- 3.7 American Express Bank and Lebanese-Canadian Bank
- 3.8 Jimmy Carter
- 3.9 World Vision Australia
- 3.10 Case against Palestinian Authority
- 4 References
- 5 External links
According to its founder, Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, its creation was inspired by the Southern Poverty Law Center in the United States, which used civil litigation to cripple and bankrupt the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazi groups in the US.
Shurat HaDin is staffed with activist Israeli attorneys and works with numerous other law offices internationally which serve as co-counsel on cases being litigated in courtrooms in the U.S, Canada, Israel and elsewhere.
Judgement against Iran and Syria
Nitsana Darshan-Leitner of the Shurat HaDin Israel won a case in May 2012 in which she was representing the family of Daniel Wultz, a 16 year old American who was killed in a suicide bomber attack in a Tel Aviv restaurant in 2006. The case was tried in a U.S. District Court, and represented the first time that a U.S. court issued a judgement against Syria for terror related activities. The amount of the judgement was $323,000,000. The court explained that Iran and Syria were responsible for supporting "Palestinian militants" in that bombing which killed 11 people.
On January 7, 2008, ten families of Sderot (Israel) residents, whose relatives were killed or seriously injured by Palestinian Qassam rockets, filed a lawsuit against the Egyptian government in the Be'er Sheva District Court seeking compensation in the amount of NIS 260,000,000 ($65,000,000 US). The court complaint accuses Egypt of intentionally assisting what it calls Palestinian terror organizations in smuggling explosives and weapons into the Hamas controlled Gaza strip.
The plaintiffs argue that Cairo assists the organizations by authorizing the smuggling of tons of explosives and thousands of weapons into Gaza. They also argued that the Egyptian government allowed what the group called terrorists to cross back and forth from the Egyptian-held Sinai into Gaza, permitting them an open route to and from what Shurat HaDin asserted to be terrorist training bases in states like Iran, Lebanon and Syria.
Alien Torts Act and the Torture Victims Protection Act
On September 10, 2006, Shurat HaDin and New York attorney Robert Tolchin filed a lawsuit in federal court on behalf of the families of 12 missing Iranian Jews against the former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami. The complaint alleges that the former president was responsible for the kidnapping and torture of their missing family members in Iran. The families, currently residing in Los Angeles and Israel, claim that Khatami instituted the cruel policy of making Iranian Jewish detainees "disappear" – that is imprisoning Iranian Jews without trials and refusing to provide their families any information concerning their arrests, status or whereabouts.
The families of the missing Jews, who are not U.S. citizens, brought the suit under special laws – the Alien Tort Statute and the Torture Victim Protection Act of 1991 – which permit foreigners to sue their tormentors for torture and kidnapping in American courts. The plaintiffs are seeking hundreds of millions of dollars in damages against Khatami for what they assert to be his role in the on-going disappearance of their relatives. Khatami has refused to answer the complaint and has defaulted the case.
On May 1, 2008, Shurat HaDin along with former Soviet refusenik, Ida Nudel launched a public campaign to save the life of a Palestinian police officer accused of having assisted the Israeli intelligence services in hunting down fugitive terrorists. The policeman, Imad Sa'ad has been sentenced to death by a Palestinian military tribunal in Hebron. Sa'ad, it is alleged, provided the Israel Defense Forces with the whereabouts of four suspected bomb makers whom the Palestinian Authority was unwilling to hand over to the Israelis.
Shurat HaDin accused the Palestinians of having engaged in a show trial that did not permit the defendant, a father of four, the right to counsel nor the right to call witnesses in his defense. Darshan-Leitner and Nudel wrote to then-president George W. Bush, the European Union and the Vatican to ask for their support.
On May 13, 2008, Shurat HaDin was co-counsel in filing in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York against the Swiss bank, UBS which is accused by the plaintiffs of financing terror.
The plaintiffs in the case, all of whom had family members injured or killed in Israel, allege that UBS's unlawful eight year-long provision of financial services to the Islamic Republic of Iran at the time that the group allege that Tehran was providing material support to terrorist organizations renders the Swiss bank liable for the harm that has been inflicted upon them and their families. This was the first civil action brought by what the group allege to be American victims of Katyusha rocket attacks by Hezbollah.
The group alleges that the Swiss bank was involved in transferring dollars to regimes such as Iran, Cuba, and North Korea. The UBS operation was uncovered by American soldiers in Iraq in 2003 who discovered brand new dollars, still wrapped in Federal Reserve casings behind a wall in Saddam Hussein's palace. A Federal Reserve investigation of the currency determined that UBS was responsible for illegally transferring between $4 to $5 billion to states designated by the U.S. as sponsors of terrorism between 1996 and 2004. At first UBS sought to deny the extent of the money transfers it had provided to Iran and others, but eventually was compelled to admit the scope of its criminal activities. UBS, one of world's wealthiest banks, was fined $100 millions by the Federal Reserve for its conduct. The lawsuit charges UBS, which has a branch in New York, with aiding and abetting what the group allege to be Iran's support of terrorism, by illegally providing Tehran the dollars it needed to pass along to the terrorist groups for their purchases and attacks.
Iranian families and diplomats
On June 30, 2008, Shurat HaDin filed a petition in the Israeli High Court of Justice on behalf of the families of 12 missing Iranian Jews seeking to block the Israeli government from releasing information on the fate of four disappeared Iranian diplomats as part of a prisoner exchange deal with Hezbollah. The petition was heard on Wednesday, July 2, 2008. The Jews were arrested in the 1990s as they sought to escape from Iran across the border with Pakistan and they are believed to still be in Iranian prisons. The Iranian diplomats disappeared in South Lebanon in 1982. The petition demands that the Prime Minister not authorize the transfer of information regarding the diplomats until such time as reliable and detailed information is received about the missing Jews' fate.
Shurat Hadin claims it has reliable information that at least one of the Jews is still alive and being held as a prisoner in Tehran. The families contend that the government must honor the obligations imposed upon it by the Israeli High Court approximately two years ago, in a prior High Court proceeding, that [the Israeli government] "...push forward diligently without sparing any effort in order to gain information about the [12 missing] Jews of Iran." The families are insisting that there be a "quid pro quo" on information about their family members in exchange for the release of the details on the fate of the missing Iranians.
Shurat HaDin emphasized that, the families' are not appealing against the deal to bring back the Hizbollah captives itself but rather are demanding that the fate of the 12 missing Jews be included as a "quid pro quo" before any information about the diplomats is released.
American Express Bank and Lebanese-Canadian Bank
On July 14, 2008, Shurat HaDin and Attorney Robert Tolchin of New York filed suit against American Express Bank accusing it of a role in transferring money for Hizbollah. The action was filed in the New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan.
Representing some 85 victims and their family members, the Shurat HaDin lawsuit alleges that the American Express Bank, Ltd. and the Lebanese Canadian Bank (LCB) unlawfully executed millions of dollars in wire transfers for Hizbollah between 2004 and 2006. The plaintiffs assert that Hizbollah used the funds transferred by Amex Bank and LCB to prepare and carry out the rocket attacks which the terrorist organization rained on Israeli cities between July 12 and August 14, 2006.
The plaintiffs rested their claims in part on written findings issued by the New York State Banking Department in 2007, which determined that Amex Bank had failed to establish adequate procedures to prevent terrorism financing as demanded by state and federal law. This was the first lawsuit brought by victims of terrorism against a U.S. financial institution, alleging that they served as a correspondent for a bank in Lebanon.
On February 1, 2011, Shurat HaDin and US attorney David Schoen, Esq. of Montgomery, Alabama filed suit against former president Jimmy Carter and publisher Simon and Schuster for the publication of Carter’s book, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid. According to the Center's own information page, the book violated New York's consumer protection law.
The plaintiffs, who hope to have the case certified as a class action, are members of the reading public who purchased Carter’s book expecting that they were buying an accurate and factual record of historic events concerning Israel and the Palestinian Arabs. The lawsuit contends that Carter, who holds himself out as a Middle-East expert, and his publisher, intentionally presented untrue and inaccurate information and sought to capitalize on the author’s status as a former President to mislead unsuspecting members of the public. The complaint alleges that the defendants’ misrepresentations, all highly critical of Israel, violate New York consumer protection laws, specifically New York General Business Law § 349, which makes it unlawful to engage in deceptive acts in the course of conducting business. While acknowledging Carter’s right to publish his personal views, the plaintiffs assert that the defendants violated the law and, thus, harmed those who purchased the book.
The plaintiffs dropped the suit on May 3, 2011 with no money changing hands.
World Vision Australia
In February 2012, based on information provided by the Shurat HaDin, World Vision Australia, a Christian relief, development and advocacy organisation, allegedly provided "financial aid to a Gaza-based terrorist group," the Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC), which they also alleged is a "front for terror group the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine." WV had "suspended its dealings" with UAWC until the outcome of the investigation. WV resumed working with UAWC after AusAID and World Vision found the allegations were unfounded. A spokesperson said "UAWC is a nonprofit company that is registered with the Israeli Justice Ministry". According to The Australian newspaper, 'AusAID has written to Shurat HaDin to confirm that a detailed investigation has been conducted into the claims and no evidence has been found to substantiate them'. In March 2012, Shurat HaDin provided what it described as "conclusive evidence" that Gaza-based UAWC was linked to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).
On 31 May 2012, the Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr issued a statement that "An AusAID examination has concluded there is no evidence to support claims by the Israel Law Center (Shurat HaDin) that funding through World Vision Australia to a Palestinian NGO, the Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC) was in violation of section 21 of the Charter of the United Nations Act, 1945.". He also added, "I understand the material provided by the Israel Law Center has been carefully examined by AusAID in consultation with other agencies including the Australian Federal Police and the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation".
On 6 October 2012, World Vision issued a detailed, 5-page letter to Shurat ha-Din, in which it was stated that the claims were "unsubstantiated, and in some circumstances, defamatory".
Case against Palestinian Authority
Shuat HaDin is preparing to take the Palestinian Authority (PA) to the International Criminal Court (ICC). In the event that the Palestinian Authority is accepted into the ICC, it will enable the PA to become susceptible to lawsuits. Shuat HaDin is preparing in advance by collecting thousands of testimonies from Israeli victims of Palestinian terrorist attacks. Shuat HaDin Chairwoman Nitsana Darshan-Leitner explained, "we've received dozens of terror victims' testimonies, from relatively 'light' stories to truly shocking ones."
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- NGO to sue PA for terrorism