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July 1, 2015 / 14 Tammuz, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Shurat Hadin’

Terror Victims’ Court Victory Exposes America’s Glory and Decay

Thursday, February 26th, 2015

In New York this week, a jury of twelve men and women returned a guilty verdict on all counts against the Palestinian Authority (PA) and the PLO for their roles in six terror attacks that left ten American families, including mine, devastated. That jury awarded over $218 million in damages to the thirty-three plaintiffs in our case, Sokolow v. PLO.

In Washington, one could hear a pin drop as not one official praised the proper working of the American justice system in punishing terror where it counts—in its pocketbook.

The law applied in Judge George B. Daniels Manhattan courtroom was the Anti-Terrorism Act, or ATA. That law was passed by Congress and signed by Bill Clinton in 1993.

As our lawyer, Kent Yalowitz of Arnold & Porter, stated in his summation before the jury: wherever an American citizen goes in the world, the ATA goes with him. The ATA was the one positive byproduct of the brutal murder of Leon Klinghoffer aboard the Achille Lauro: the U.S. found it did not have the criminal or civil tools to punish those who harmed Americans beyond U.S. borders. The ATA allows for both criminal prosecution as well as civil penalties, and was passed by large majorities in both houses.

The Palestinian Authority and the PLO lost several cases by default judgments when they simply refused to show up. Eventually, former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice told them to obtain lawyers and fight the charges against them. The Palestinians responded by employing a top-flight Washington law firm that did everything possible to keep their clients out of court, and once in court, to prevent them from losing.

The Palestinians put up a spirited defense. That the jury returned a unanimous verdict on two dozen counts after only two half-days of deliberations speaks volumes to the damning evidence presented by Yalowitz, Nitsana Darshan Leitner of Shurat HaDin and their colleagues.

As a plaintiff in Sokolow vs. PLO, I had the privilege, but also the horror, of spending a few days in court, testifying along with my wife and our son. We had to revisit the horrors of the bombing which irrevocably altered our lives. We cried as we recalled the devastation.

The Palestinians’ attorneys made every effort to convince the jury that the bombers, shooters, and their supporters acted alone, that the PA and its officers were opposed to those activities, and that payments to “martyr” families and the ongoing payments to Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails served as no incentive to those who killed and maimed. The jury did not buy it.

The jurors assigned aggregate damages which, when tripled as provided in the ATA, charged the PA and PLO with over $650 million. The outcome was a resounding victory for the ten plaintiff families, our lawyers, our supporters, and all of those who truly wish to fight terror by all means available.

The PA and PLO fought this suit for eleven years. They lost it in six weeks.

The outcome in that New York courtroom shows the majesty of the American legal system. A legal concern was identified, an appropriate law was passed, and Americans affected by the scourge of international terror made use of the law to seek and find redress. This is America at its finest. Such an incredible outcome, delivered by twelve “average” citizens of New York, ones without any background or particular interest in the political issues of the Middle East, shows the unique face of American democracy and justice.

And yet, while the American judicial system, utilizing tools created by the legislative branch, brought us justice, another branch of the American government has repeatedly denied it to us.

One would think that the president or maybe the attorney general or even the secretary of state might put out a statement on how wonderful the American system of justice is for giving hope to people whose lives were crushed by the ever-growing scourge of international terror. But not. one. word.

Instead of celebrating this modicum of relief from unspeakable pain for American citizens, the executive branch appears more concerned with another big bill the PA has racked up. Instead of hailing the U.S. legal system for providing justice to families whose lives were shattered by terror and offering hope to others,  the president and his minions are hard at work attempting to find ways in which they can extricate the PA and the PLO from their current financial mess.

Even Hillary Clinton, whose husband signed the law into existence, had nothing to say about the same terror victims she used as props for photo shoots during her senatorial visits to Israel.

There’s much more fueling this disappointment.

You would never know it, but the ATA has a criminal component for prosecuting terrorists who harm American citizens. But the Department of Justice has never utilized that tool in any of the 80 attacks in and around Israel in which American citizens were killed or injured since the signing of the Oslo Accords. The U.S. has not indicted, extradited, or prosecuted a single Palestinian terrorist since the 1968 conviction of Sirhan Sirhan. While criminal standards for conviction are admittedly far higher than their civil law counterparts, the U.S. has been blasé about Palestinian terror—neither arresting the bad guys nor calling out the PA or PLO for their active and willful roles in inciting and coordinating terror against Israeli (and American) citizens.

So, while the jury in New York has spoken; DoJ in the nation’s capitol has been out to lunch. Even our anguished requests between 2008 and 2011 that terrorists who harmed Americans not be included in the deal to release the soldier Gilad Schalit fell on deaf ears; fifteen such terrorists went free without a word from either DoJ or the president.

Ignoring terror and its supporters will not make terror go away. Calling it “extremism” will not make it less horrific.

The US has an obligation to recognize that the PA, which has been the source of hope for three consecutive administrations, is as guilty as Hamas with regard to supporting and encouraging terror.

Imagine how I feel, knowing that one of the unindicted co-conspirators in our case is today a minister in the present Palestinian Authority government. The U.S. and the world will never be free from terror until it identifies its source honestly and deals with it forcefully. Only a handful of world leaders today see the PA and the PLO as the jurors saw it: terror-supporting entities.

America is a great country and the ATA has allowed us and our fellow plaintiffs to seek and receive redress for the role the PA and PLO played in providing material support to terrorists who harmed us and our loved ones.

Monday will remain a great day in American legal history. Still, we must remember that each year the U.S. gives $400 million to the PA, which in turn gives about $50 million to terrorists in Israeli jails. As Kent Yalowitz successfully implored the jury: you can connect the dots.

Abu Mazen Will Cancel ICC Bid for Restarting Negotiations

Thursday, January 15th, 2015

Abu Mazen is trying to climb down out of the International Criminal Court tree he climbed himself into.

The Lebanese newspaper Al-Achbar, reports that PA President Mahmoud “Abu Mazen” Abbas told the Egyptian president that if Israel restarts negotiations with him within the next few weeks, he won’t sue senior Israeli officials in the Hague.

The Israeli legal organization, Shurat Hadin / Israel Law Center, has already prepared and submitted multiple law suits to the ICC against senior PA officials, in preparation for the PA being accepted to the ICC.

Abbas may have woken up to the fact that he will be the one on the defendant’s chair soon enough.

Lawyers Called Upon to Use Their Legal Skills in Israel’s Defense

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014

From every quarter, the global attacks against Israel are escalating. No sooner did the summer’s rocket barrages from the Islamic organizations in Gaza come to an end than an unprecedented wave of murderous terrorist violence in Israeli cities commenced. At the same time the anti-Semitic Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement has moved into high gear, threatening to delegitimize the Jewish State.  Jewish communities worldwide report daily attacks menacing their security.

In response to these dangerous challenges, the Tel-Aviv based civil rights center, Shurat HaDin-Israel Law Center, is organizing attorneys and other supporters of Israel to fight back. The group has launched its first ever “Activist  Lawyer’s Training Seminar” (ALTS), to be held June 29th through July 5th in Jerusalem. The ALTS will be an intensive week-long summer training course designed to give attorneys the opportunity to learn skills and strategies to combat Israel’s enemies on the new emerging battlefields being utilized by the terrorist and the hate groups. It will mix dynamic lectures and legal workshops with cutting edge field trips to the frontline of Israel’s conflict with neighboring enemies.

The Kosher ALTS program will provide five star Israeli hotel accommodations.

According to Shurat HaDin director Nissan Darshan-Leitner, “We decided to initiate the Activist Lawyer’s Training Seminar this coming June 2015 to teach attorneys how they can use their legal skills to help defend the Jewish State. The Israeli government alone can no longer fend off all the vicious threats to our existence and  the private sector, especially lawyers, need to get involved and join the battle. We are bringing in some of the best attorneys, professors and officials involved in confronting Israel’s enemies globally to teach the participants the skills they need to play a vital role.”

Shurat HaDin is uniquely qualified to host the summer’s training course for lawyers. For the past twelve years, the law center has become known for its use of innovative legal strategies utilized to combat global terror financing and to seek justice for terror victims in courtrooms around the world. Shurat HaDin has made a reputation using creative legal tactics to staunchly defend the State of Israel and the world Jewish communities against the growing tide of anti-Israel activism and anti-Semitism through calls for boycotts by the BDS movement.  The group has taken the lead in by going on the offensive to defend IDF officers and Israeli officials against accusations of war crimes in different international tribunals.

The ALTS was specially crafted to meet the needs of lawyers from around an international array of countries who have expressed an interest in learning about Shurat HaDin’s work and methods and getting involved as legal activists on behalf of the State of Israel and the Jewish people. Over the years, Shurat HaDin has developed expertise in developing quality and fun educational programs through its highly successful “Ultimate Missions to Israel,” which the group has been running since 2003, and its summer and winter Student Internship Program for law students.

For the first time, Shurat HaDin is directing its educational programming to practicing lawyers while offering them continuing legal education (“CLE”) credits. The ALTS offers an incredible program filled with lectures and intensive workshops by renowned attorneys and Israeli officials, including Canadian MP Irwin Cotler and Israeli Supreme Court Justice Yoram Danziger and field trips to Israeli agencies and institutions that are inaccessible rarely by the general public, including the military courts, Israeli security agencies, IDF bases and border crossings. In addition to the opportunity to travel in and enjoy Israel, participants will receive practical training in advocacy on Israel’s behalf on issues such as terror victim litigation, Israel in international law, the anti-Israel BDS movement and lawfare.

Israel Law Center Wins Landmark Decision Against PA in NY Court

Friday, November 21st, 2014

Shurat HaDin – the Israel Law Center – on Thursday (Nov. 20) won a landmark decision against the Palestinian Authority (PA) on behalf of 11 families of victims of terror. The U.S. District Court in New York set a date for a jury trial in January for the case that began in 2004.

The Israeli civil rights advocacy group is representing the families in a lawsuit that holds the PA and Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) responsible for the deaths of their loved ones due to seven terror attacks between 2001 and 2004, during the period of the second intifada.

“For years the PA provided funding and every measure of support for the murderous terrorist operations in Israel that devastated the country and left so many civilians dead,” said Shurat HaDin head Attorney Nitzana Darshan-Leitner.

“The decision and trial will provide an unprecedented opportunity to present to a New York jury all that the evidence that has been amassed documenting the Palestinians’ use of terrorism as an official policy to advance their goals,” she added.

At issue is the question of whether the PA and PLO are “vicariously liable” for the deaths of the American citizens killed in the seven terror attacks.

Thursday’s decision found there was sufficient evidence to prove that PA employees were involved in carrying out terror attacks against civilians in Israel and that the PA and PLO provided weapons, money and other material support to the operatives, in violation of U.S. Anti-Terror laws.

Moreover, there is sufficient evidence to provide the possibility that a jury could also rule the PA and PLO guilty of providing “safe haven” to the terrorists, and material support to Fatah’s military wing, the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades and Gaza’s ruling Hamas terrorist organization.

Recently Shurat HaDin won a ruling against the Arab Bank in which the bank was found guilty of providing material support to Hamas in funding terrorist attacks. The bank has appealed the case.

The trial set for January is a landmark case whose costs in terms of damages awarded by the court to the plaintiffs could reach up to $1 billion.

 

 

Israeli Lawyers File War Crime Suit against Abbas for Rocket Fire

Monday, November 10th, 2014

An Israeli civil rights group has filed a complaint in the International Criminal Court against Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas for war crimes in the Gaza war against Israel.

The Shurat HaDin (Israel Law Center) group said that Abbas can be tried in the court in Hague because he has Jordanian citizenship.

The Palestinian Authority is not as member of the ICC, but Abbas has threatened he will apply for membership. If the PA is accepted, he could file war crime suits against Israel.

“Shurat HaDin will not allow Fatah to carry out rocket attacks on Israeli population centers, while hypocritically advocating Palestinian membership in the ICC, said Shurat HaDin director Nitsana Darshan Leitner. “Abbas falsely believes that alleged crimes against Arabs are the only ones that should be prosecuted,” she added.

Darshan-Leitner argued that Abbas, as head of the Fatah movement, “is liable for Fatah’s rocket attacks on Israeli cities during this past summer’s Gaza war.”

Fatah boasted that it launched missiles towards numerous Israeli communities, including Ashkelon, Sderot, Netivot and kibbutzim in the Gaza Belt area.

Darshan-Leitner explained that Abbas’ Jordanian citizenship circumvents the previous obstacle to the ICC chief prosecutor’s argument that the court did not open an investigation into war cries in the war because neither Israel or the Palestinian Authority is a member of the ICC.

“Abbas is a Jordanian citizen and Jordan is a current member of the ICC,” she said, “The ICC is empowered to exercise its jurisdiction over all acts committed by the citizen of a member, wherever those acts are committed.”

The complaint notes Jordan has never prosecuted any Palestinian citizen for terrorism and it “has no means of obtaining custody of Mahmoud Abbas,” who lives in Ramallah under PA protection.

In September, Shurat HaDin filed an ICC complaint against Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal, who also possesses Jordanian citizenship, for Hamas’s extra-judicial execution of 39 Palestinian civilians in Gaza.

 

Shurat HaDin to Bring Hamas to Hague for War Crimes Against its Own People

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2014

An Israeli civil rights group, Shurat HaDin Israel Law Center, has filed a complaint in the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague against Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal over the July-August murders of 38 Gazan civilians.

The motion by the Shurat Hadin Israel Law Center to bring Mashaal to the ICC was made possible by the fact that he is a citizen of Jordan, one of the ICC member states, and represents the first time that a Palestinian terrorist would be brought to the court on the basis of his Jordanian citizenship.

The complaint alleges that Hamas executed 20 Gazan civilians on July 28 for engaging in anti-Hamas protests, and publicly executed at least 18 civilians on August 22 for “collaboration” with Israel. The complaint further states that Mashaal “had knowledge of the executions, oversees Hamas’s governance of Gaza, and actively encourages and supports the executions.”

As a Jordanian citizen, the Hamas leader is subject to prosecution by the ICC because court is “empowered to exercise its jurisdiction over all acts committed by the citizen of a member, wherever those acts are committed,” explained attorney Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, the chairperson of Shurat Hadin.

In video footage broadcast around the world, Hamas spokesmen testified to the killings of at least 38 civilians in Gaza since the outbreak of this summer’s war with Israel. One of the videos shows Hamas executioners publicly announcing the verdict against some of the condemned civilians, who appear kneeling with cloth bags over their heads in a Gaza mosque. The executions brought widespread condemnation of Hamas from a number of human rights groups.

The Israeli legal group filed the complaint partly as a response to statements made last week by ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, who said that the court has not “avoided opening an investigation into alleged war crimes in Gaza due to political pressure” and has only failed to do so due to a lack of jurisdiction. According to ICC protocols, either the claimant or defendant in a case must belong to an ICC member state, a status that neither Israel nor Gaza holds. By trying Mashaal as a Jordanian, the Israeli group hopes to force the court to convene on the case, as Bensouda indicated it would be willing to do.

Darshan-Leitner told Tazpit News Agency that if the case against Mashaal succeeds in going to court, the results would be significant for Israel. The Hamas leader would be arrested and put on trial, and as the attorney pointed out, “the punishment for war crimes is imprisonment for life. It’s a life sentence without parole.” She also noted that a successful trial would undermine the legitimacy of Hamas, who would be “recognized as committing war crimes against its own people.”

Asked about the prospects of the case going to trial, Darshan-Leitner said that she intends to “put public pressure on the court to deal with this issue.” She noted that the court has an incentive to take the case in order to avoid appearing hypocritical, since the chief ICC prosecutor herself wrote that the court is willing to deal with allegations against Hamas.

“Quite frankly,” she said, “I don’t see a way out for the court from dealing with this case. For the first time they have the jurisdiction to deal with Hamas war crimes in Gaza.”

Jordan’s Arab Bank Goes on Trial in NY for Terror Financing

Monday, August 11th, 2014

A worldwide legal earthquake is about to begin in Brooklyn, where the Jordan-based Arab Bank goes on trial today (Monday) for authorizing money transfers from terror entities to Hamas members abroad.

The case, a lawsuit by the families of US victims of terror, has been 10 years in the making and revolves around ‘martyr payments’ to the relatives of Hamas suicide bombers via the Jordan-based Arab Bank through its New York branch during the second intifada.

The plaintiffs claim in their suit the Bank has violated Section 2339B of Title 18 of the US Code, which makes it illegal for an entity within the United States to provide material support or resources to designated foreign terrorist organizations. Hamas is included on that list. Attorney Gary Osen of Osen LLC is the lead attorney in the case.

This is the first-ever civil trial targeting terrorist financing, one that has dragged on for a decade because Arab Bank has worked just that hard to fight it — or at least to delay the proceedings as long as possible. When the Supreme Court rejected the Bank’s petition to hear the case in June, the way was paved for today’s hearing in Brooklyn.

In April 2013, a New York Federal Court penalizing the Bank with an order imposing sanctions for refusing to submit documents for review by the plaintiffs to determine whether they could be used as evidence in the case.

That order raised Cain between three agencies at the federal level in the Obama administration – the US State Department, the Justice Department, and the Treasury Department – as officials tried to decide just how to deal with this delicate but dirty matter that affects not one, but at least two or more of America’s closest allies in the Middle East.

The Bank claimed it refused to submit the documents because it could have violated bank secrecy laws in Jordan and Lebanon. The lower US court was having none of that and ruled a jury could interpret that to mean an automatic admission of guilt on the part of the Bank.

In a pre-trial statement to Forbes, the Bank commented, “The facts show that Arab Bank provided routine banking service in compliance with applicable counter terrorism laws and regulations, and had no intention of providing support to Hamas or any other known terrorist organization.”

The Bank is accused of facilitating massive money transfers from 1998 to 2004 to Hamas leaders and institutions, as well as to the families of jailed Hamas members and suicide bombers. The money allegedly came from insurance benefits provided by the Saudi Committee and the Hezbollah al-Shahid Foundation. Both supported the intifada by providing benefits to the families of those who “martyred” themselves or who became injured or captured by the IDF in the process.

The insurance was “ultimately designed to provide substantial material support to Palestinian terrorist organizations and to provide a meaningful incentive both to prospective recruits and to individuals contemplating the commission of independent acts of violence in the name of the ‘popular resistance’,” according to the complaint, as quoted by Business Insider.

There were five attacks specified in the complaint in which Arab Bank allegedly facilitated money transfers to the relatives of Hamas terrorists. One was the October 2003 case of John Linde Jr., murdered with two other security officers while escorting US diplomats to interview Palestinian Arab candidates for Fulbright Scholarships. The three were killed by an IED (improvised explosive device, also known as a ‘homemade bomb’) in northern Gaza. A second involved 3-year-old Tehilla Nathansen, killed while sitting on her mother’s lap when terrorists blew up the No. 2 bus in Jerusalem in August 2003. A third child, 8th grader Jacob Mandell, was killed in a hail of rocks hurled by attacking Palestinian Arabs along with another friend while hiking in May 2001. And so on.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/jordans-arab-bank-on-trial-in-ny-for-terror-financing/2014/08/11/

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