By Mark Rottenberg
I’ve always wanted to do whatever I could to help put a stop to the scourge of terror that is such a plague that affects every aspect of our lives. Having heard of Shurat HaDin’s accomplishments in fighting terrorism in the courts, my wife and I decided to participate in their 17th mission last June.
We all met the first time for dinner on a Monday night in a private dining room at the Dan Hotel in Tel Aviv. Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, the director, welcomed us and spoke briefly of Shurat HaDin’s objectives and accomplishments. I was amazed by the different responses of what inspired people to come on this trip, especially the non-Jewish people—almost half of the group. There was one common thread, and that was the concern and love for Israel. Camaraderie quickly developed, the edginess dissolved (the wine helped), and by the end of the evening we were all a happy, close-knit group ready to start the tour.
The theme of the Shurat HaDin missions is fighting terror. Day one started with a visit to the Erez border crossing to Gaza. Off-the-record briefings were given and security precautions were explained. I could not help noticing that in the two hours we were there, I saw over 25 Arab men, women, and children who crossed into Israel for medical treatment for themselves and their infant children. I was told that this was a “slow” day. On to S’derot for a visit, a delicious lunch, and a poor man’s way of showing solidarity. The mini bomb shelters in the street said it all.
We went up to the Golan, to both the Syrian and Lebanese borders. Even without the security fences and barriers, we could tell by the farmlands where Israel ended and, by the wastelands, where Syria and Lebanon began. There were informative military briefings at both stops.
We then visited an Air Force base (I can’t say where), where I was chosen to demonstrate how to put on a G suit (I did it wrong) and a helmet (I did it right), and a tank base (again I can’t say where), where many of the men climbed on the tanks—while the women were busy making shidduchim for the soldiers. This evening ended with a delightful 45-minute cruise on the Kineret, complete with wine and beer followed by a delicious meal at—where else?—Decks.
On this eye-opening mission, we were briefed daily by different high-ranking government spokespersons, as well as by active and former Mossad and Shin Bet operatives about their personal experiences in the war against terrorism.
The third way of fighting terrorism is through the courts, using the legal system. This is where Shurat HaDin has so excelled and stood out so successfully. Shurat HaDin–Israel Law Center is a world leader in the fight to stop terrorist funding. By using legal action and civil lawsuits, Shurat HaDin assists in bankrupting terror groups and grinding their activity to a halt. Based in Tel Aviv, and founded and directed by attorney Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, Shurat HaDin works with Western intelligence agencies and a network of volunteer lawyers around the world to file legal actions on behalf of terror victims. Shurat HaDin has successfully disrupted the terrorist groups and helped their victims to strike back at those responsible for devastating their lives.
Among their many achievements, they have demonstrated the strong link between money and terrorism, as well as liabilities that courts will assign to state sponsors and financial institutions that aid and abet terrorism. They have succeeded in winning more than $1 billion in judgments against terrorist organizations and their patrons.
They have collected more than $120 million in actual payment to the victims and their families, and have frozen more than $600 million in terror assets.
By targeting the banking system in Gaza and other Palestinian terror centers, and stopping international wire transfers, they have assisted in driving Hamas and other extremist groups to resort to smuggling funds using underground methods.
According to one Mossad official, their civil actions have actually reduced terrorist activity in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip by 60 percent!
They assisted in causing Iran to pull its assets out of Europe, shifting its business to Asia, and blocked its ability to obtain hard currencies.
Fear of civil lawsuits has compelled international banks to close accounts alleged to be linked to terrorism and thoroughly investigate new customers suspected of being terror-funding fronts.
One of their major successes has been the sinking (so to speak) of the second Gaza flotilla. Shurat HaDin embarked on a successful campaign to legally block the provocation flotilla from breaching the Israeli coastal blockade of the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. On June 12, numerous boats loaded with contraband and up to a thousand passengers, including members of the EU Parliament, intended to set sail for Gaza from Greece, Turkey, France, Ireland, and Cyprus. The flotilla organizers were hoping, once again, to provoke a massive public confrontation with the IDF and compel Israeli soldiers to use force to detain them, thereby creating further international condemnation of Israel.
Working with Israeli naval Intelligence, the IDF, and the Prime Minister’s Office, Shurat HaDin devised a legal strategy to block the extremists from setting sail. They employed a multipronged legal attack: they sent warning letters to the top maritime insurance companies, causing most to cancel their insurance of the boats headed to Gaza; they filed a cutting-edge lawsuit in the U.S. to seize the ships set to join the flotilla, contending that furnishing and outfitting ships that were to be used for hostilities against a U.S. ally violated a rarely utilized section of the Neutrality Act, which allows a plaintiff to seize property; and they sent warning letters to, and sought a permanent legal injunction against, the U.K.- and U.S.-based global satellite company Inmarsat, alleging that it was providing communication services to ships used by suspected terror organizations. Additionally, they filed a complaint with the Greek coast guard that led the Greek authorities to detain the ships that were docked there. Due to these innovative legal tactics, the flotilla boats were blocked from ever leaving their ports.
We have been on many missions and tours, but this was the most meaningful, enjoyable, and informative one that we have ever been on. Needless to say, everything was five-star. Shurat HaDin’s next mission is October 21–28, and we highly recommend that you join them. For further information, contact Shurat HaDin at info@IsraelLawCenter.org. v