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Saturday, 9 January 2016

Giving Israel Its Day in Court

Nitsana.Darshan-LeitnerAlmost exactly five years ago, former US President Jimmy Carter was sued for allegedly defamatory remarks he made about  Israel in his book, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid.

The $5M claim was filed against Carter and his publishers, Simon and Schuster by American attorney David Schoen of  Alabama and Israeli lawyer, Nitsana Darshan-Leitner,  of Tel-Aviv.

The case got nowhere – as  had a 2010 action against the Al Jazeera media company for broadcasting locations of where Hezbollah rockets had hit Israel.

Darshan-Leitner now heads the Shurat HaDin Israel Law Centre and she and her team are all too accustomed to having their cases thrown out.

Indeed, her first major failure came as a student when she lost a case in the Israeli Supreme Court aimed at preventing the mastermind of the 1985 hijacking of the Achille Lauro cruise ship from entering the country.

It made her realise, she says “that I can come on behalf of terror victims, give them a voice, and get my day in a court. It doesn’t matter what the decision is”.


But persistence pays off and last year her law practice (its Hebrew title translates as ‘letter of the law’) both won multi-million dollar judgments and or filed suits against the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO), The Islamic Republic of Iran, Facebook US and even North Korea.

Darshan-Leitner, the daughter of Iranians, gained her law degree at Bar Ilan University, Israel and an  M.B.A. from the University of Manchester, U.K. 

She founded Shurat HaDin in 2003 and maintains that she was influenced by the work of the “Southern Poverty Law Centre which had bankrupted several branches of the Ku Klux Klan 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’”.

Now members of ESRA Karmiel have a chance to hear a first-hand account of the achievements of Shurat HaDin at an event addressed by Alona Metz, its Director of Resource Development.

Alona.MetzUS-born Metz, who emigrated to Israel in 2014, has won several awards for legal ‎advocacy, published widely and has served on the board of directors ‎of several non-profit US organisations. She joined the Shurat ‎HaDin team in May 2015 and her role includes ‎fundraising, speaking engagements, donor relations and strategic partnerships.‎

Her talk is at the Kehilat Hakerem Synagogue on Thursday 21 January (7.00 p.m. for 7.30 p.m.). Full details from:

*** Since I first posted this item on Saturday night, 09 January 2016, the Arutz Sheva newsite has reported: “Facebook has agreed to pull a page that incited against Israelis, but only after the Shurat Hadin-Israel Law Center NGO exposed its double standard in removing inciting pages”.

© Natalie Wood (09 January 2016)

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