Nitsana Darshan-Leitner

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Nitsana Darshan-Leitner
Nitsana new pic.jpg
BornPetach Tikvah, Israel
OccupationLawyer, Jewish Rights Advocate
Alma materBar Ilan University
Manchester University

Nitsana Darshan-Leitner (Hebrew: ניצנה דרשן-לייטנר‎) is an Israeli attorney, human rights activist, and the founder of Shurat HaDin Israeli Law Center. She has been leading the legal fight against terror financing, the boycott and divestment campaigns (BDS), and combating the multitude of lawfare tactics utilized against the Jewish State by its enemies. As the president of the Israel-based civil rights organization, Shurat HaDin–Israel Law Center, she has represented hundreds of terror victims in legal actions against terror organizations and their supporters. Darshan-Leitner has successfully recovered more than two hundred million dollars in compensation on their behalf. In recent years, Darshan-Leitner initiated a legal campaign to deprive terrorists of social media resources such as Facebook,[1] Twitter,[2] and YouTube, which they use to incite violence against Jews and promote terror attacks. In her efforts to combat anti-Semitism and anti-Israeli activities, Darshan-Leitner assisted in blocking the Gaza Flotilla,[3] terminated efforts to indict IDF soldiers for war crimes, and filed legal actions against those who boycott Israeli academics and companies in violation of the law.

Darshan-Leitner was chosen as one of the 50 most influential Jews in the world by the Jerusalem Post,[4] and named by the Israeli Forbes magazine as one of the 50 most influential Israeli women.[5]

Early life, education and family[edit]

Darshan-Leitner was born in Petah Tikva, Israel.[6] Her family emigrated to Israel from a small village outside of Shiraz in Iran at around the time of the founding of the State.[7]


In the 1990s, Darshan-Leitner helped litigate a case on behalf of victims of the Achille Lauro hijacking of 1985. During work on this case, she appeared before the Israeli Supreme Court in an attempt to prevent one of the hijackers, Muhammed Abbas, from being allowed to travel to Israel.[6]

In 2003, Darshan-Leitner founded Shurat HaDin – Israel Law Center in Tel Aviv. Shurat HaDin is an Israeli-based civil rights center which focuses on bringing lawsuits and legal actions on behalf of the victims of terrorism. She has said she was influenced by the activities of the Southern Poverty Law Center which had bankrupted several branches of the KKK and other neo-Nazi groups through civil litigation. In founding Shurat HaDin, she noted her goal was to "go after terrorists in the same way that they (the SPLC) were going after racists".[6]

According to a 2007 US embassy cable released by WikiLeaks, Darshan-Leitner explained to a US embassy official that Shurat HaDin received evidence from and had taken direction "on which cases to pursue" from Mossad, Israel's national intelligence agency.[8]

In 2012, Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, Director of Shurat HaDin, received the Moskowitz Prize for Zionism for fighting Israel's war on terror in courtrooms.[9]

Prominent cases[edit]

Since 2003, Darshan-Leitner and a team of lawyers have worked with hundreds of terror victims in lawsuits[10] and legal actions against Hamas, the Palestinian Authority, Iran, Syria,[11] Islamic Jihad, and numerous financial institutions.[12]

Darshan-Leitner has been involved in a wide range of legal actions in Israel,[13] and abroad, on behalf of Jewish rights cases[14]

In 2012, Darshan-Leitner (Shurat Hadin) sent warning letters to World Vision Australia and AusAID, after the two aid organizations had been accused of funding the Palestinian Union of Agricultural Workers Committee (UAWC), which Darshan-Leitner said was an instrumentality of the terrorist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). UAWC - World Vision activities were resumed in early March 2012, after an investigation by World Vision found no evidence that humanitarian support for UAWC was in any way leaking to terrorists.[15] Darshan-Leitner rejected the finding and demanded, under Australia's Freedom of Information Act that AUS Aid and World Vision turn over details of the investigation. She noted that USAID, the agency that administers foreign aid for the U.S. government, has labeled UAWC a PFLP affiliate, an allegation based on a 1993 report.[16]

In May 2008, Shurat HaDin was co-counsel in filing in Manhattan Federal Court against Swiss mega bank UBS GA[17] which is accused by the plaintiffs of financing terror.

In July 2008, the Center joined with Montreal-based attorney Jeffrey Boro and Professor Ed Morgan of the University of Toronto's International Law and Counter-Terrorism Project to file a civil action by Canadian victims of Hizbollah. The lawsuit.[18] contends that since 2004, the Lebanese-Canadian Bank (LCB), formerly the Lebanese branch of the Royal Bank of Canada, permitted the Yousser Company for Finance and Investment and the Martyrs Foundation, two Lebanese organizations recognized by the United States as active terrorist groups, to open and maintain accounts at the bank.

On July 14, 2008, Darshan-Leiter and Attorney Robert Tolchin of New York filed a civil action on behalf of victims of the Hizbollah against an American Bank. The action was filed in the New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan Representing 85 victims and their family members, the lawsuit[19] alleges that the American Express (AMEX) Bank, Ltd. and the Lebanese-Canadian Bank (LCB) unlawfully executed millions of dollars in wire transfers for Hizbollah between 2004 and 2006.

In February 2011, Darshan-Leitner and David Schoen filed a $5m lawsuit against former US President Jimmy Carter, alleging that his book, Palestine: Peace not Apartheid, "intentionally misleads and misrepresents about actual historic events", contrary to New York state law against deceptive business practices.[20] In May 2011, three months after the filing, the suit was dropped by the plaintiffs.[21]

Israel Law Center Writ Seeking Seizure from ICANN for Iran's web domains

In June 2014, Darshan-Leitner filed a writ in the United States District Court in Washington, D. C., seeking seizure of the web domains belonging to the Islamic Republic of Iran to compensate victims of Iranian sponsored terrorism.[22] The awarding of this seizure and the assets to the plaintiffs of a 2003 lawsuit where they won a monetary award, but have been unable to collect.[23] This suit,filed against Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), seeks the seizure based on ICANN's position as a United States registered non-profit organization. The debate on whether ICANN should be under the jurisdiction of the U.S. has been going on for some time, and has not been resolved.[24]

In September 2014, Shurat HaDin filed a war crimes complaint against Khaled Mashaal,[25] the top leader of Hamas at the International Criminal Court for executing Palestinians[26] without trial during the Summer 2014 Gaza war.[27]

Sokolow et al v. Palestine Liberation Organization et al - Darshan-Leitner was co-counsel in the civil proceedings against the PLO and the Palestinian Authority, which found both organizations liable for the injuries and deaths of American citizens caused by six terror attacks in Israel between 2001 and 2004. Damages totaling $655.5 million were awarded by the jury.[28] However, on 31 August 2016, the Second US Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan dismissed the lawsuit on the grounds that US federal courts lacked overseas jurisdiction on civil cases.[29][30] The suit was ultimately sent back to the trial court for dismissal.

Public campaigns[edit]

On May 1, 2008, Darshan-Leitner along with former Soviet 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[31] 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.

Darshan-Leitner has argued that the Temple Mount is being harmed by work carried out by the Jerusalem Wakf and she organized a campaign to encourage the Israeli government to file charges against the Wakf. "The Temple Mount", one of the holiest sites in the Muslim world and home of the Al-Aqsa mosque, "is the property of Jewish nation and has been for thousands of years", claimed Darshan-Leitner.[32] Darshan-Leitner took the case to court and lost. The High Court (BAGATZ), dismissed the claim.[33]


  1. ^ "Facebook sued in mega court case". Israel National News. Retrieved 2017-11-01.
  2. ^ "Fiancee of N.Y. man killed in Brussels bombing suing Twitter". NY Daily News. Retrieved 2017-11-01.
  3. ^ "Lawyers, not IDF, at forefront of battle against flotilla". The Jerusalem Post | Retrieved 2017-11-01.
  4. ^ "Jerusalem Post 50 Most Influential Jews: Number 31 - Nitsana Darshan-Leitner". The Jerusalem Post | Retrieved 2017-11-01.
  5. ^ "Forbes Israel".
  6. ^ a b c "Nitsana darshan Leitner born" at Jewish Press Archived February 7, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^
  8. ^ Strickland, Patrick (November 6, 2015). "Israel arrests Palestinian teenager over Facebook posts". Al Jazeera. Retrieved 2016-07-13. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  9. ^ "Shurat HaDin head to receive Zionism prize". Jerusalem Post. May 22, 2012.
  10. ^ Kaufman, Amy (May 2, 2003). "Attorney hits terrorists where it hurts". Jewish Review. Retrieved 2008-04-02. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  11. ^ Miller, Judith (August 2, 2000). "Syria Is Sued by Family of Man Killed by '96 Bomb in Jerusalem". NY Times. Retrieved 2008-04-03. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  12. ^ Stahl, Julie (January 31, 2007). "Terror Victims' Families Get Approval to Sue Arab Bank". CNSNews. Archived from the original on February 5, 2007. Retrieved 2008-04-03. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  13. ^ News, Fox (March 17, 2008). "Israeli Town Demands Anti-Missile Laser". FoxNews. Retrieved 2008-04-03. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  14. ^ Pittok, Todd (February 22, 2005). "On the trail of terrorists". JewsWeek. Archived from the original on October 18, 2006. Retrieved April 3, 2008. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  15. ^ "Vision back as AusAID dismisses 'terror' link". The Australian. March 2, 2012.
  16. ^ Narunsky, Gareth (23 February 2012). "Probe into charity's alleged links with terrorist organisation". The Australian Jewish News. Retrieved 18 February 2013. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  17. ^ News, Fox (May 13, 2008). "Swiss mega bank UBS GA Accused of Financing Terror". FoxNews. Retrieved 2008-05-21. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  18. ^ "Lawsuit targets bank over alleged Hezbollah ties". CTA Global Media. July 8, 2008. Archived from the original on July 8, 2008. Retrieved 2008-07-08. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  19. ^ "Survivors of 2006 Hezbollah attacks sue 2 banks for $650M in federal court in US". LA Times. July 14, 2008. Retrieved 2008-07-15. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)[dead link]
  20. ^ Horn, Jordana (3 February 2011). "Jimmy Carter being sued for alleged falsehoods". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 24 May 2011. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  21. ^ Bosman, Julie (5 May 2011). "Plaintiffs Drop Suit Over Jimmy Carter Book". New York Times.
  22. ^ Yaron, Oded (26 June 2014). "Israeli and U.S. terror victims move to seize Iran's domain names". International Herald Tribune. Ha'Aretz.
  23. ^ Levitt, Joshua (25 June 2014). "Israeli Legal Team Threatens to Seize Iranian Internet Domain '.ir' on Behalf of Terror Victims". Algemeiner. Algemeiner Journal.
  24. ^ Timberg, Craig (14 March 2014). "U.S. to relinquish remaining control over the Internet". The Washington Post.
  25. ^ Deitch, Ian (3 September 2014). "Israeli group files war crimes claim against Hamas". Washington Post. Associated Press.
  26. ^ Reuters (22 August 2014). "Hamas Publicly Executes 18 Palestinians Accused of Aiding Israel". Newsweek. Reuters.
  27. ^ Jeremy Bob, Yonah (3 September 2014). "NGO asks ICC to indict Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal on war crimes charges". The Jerusalem Post.
  28. ^ Palestinian Groups Are Found Liable at Manhattan Terror Trial
  29. ^ Weiser, Benjamin (2016-08-31). "Court Throws Out $655.5 Million Terrorism Verdict Against Palestinian Groups". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-04-09.
  30. ^ "U.S. court voids $655 million verdict against PLO over Israel attacks". Reuters. 2016-08-31. Retrieved 2020-04-09.
  31. ^ Lake, Eli (May 5, 2008). "Appeal Is Made to Bush To Save Arab Accused of Helping Israel". NY Daily Sun. Retrieved 2008-06-01. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  32. ^ Klein, Aaron (9 November 2007). "Muslims Sued for Destroying Jewish Temple Artifacts". The Temple Institute. Retrieved 18 February 2013. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  33. ^ "Israeli High Court Blocks Prosecution of Islamic Waqf". Shurat HaDin Israeli Law Center. 4 November 2010. Archived from the original on 22 October 2013. Retrieved 18 February 2013. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)

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