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Nitsana Darshan-Leitner heads Shurat HaDin, an organization using the law to keep money out of terrorists’ hands

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Nitsana Darshan-Leitner is the director of Shurat HaDin, Israel Law Centre | Photo: Courtesy

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Although on many occasions the State of Israel has been successful in reprisals against terrorist attacks, there has been no restorative justice for the victims, or families of victims. That is, until recently.

Shurat HaDin, Israel Law Center has been successfully representing terror victims, and Jewish and Israeli causes, since 2003, and now, going into its “chai” (or life) anniversary, it remains a lifeline for those who seek compensation for damages – and notably, deflates the financial capabilities of those whose goal is to harm Jews.

By way of example, on June 12, The Jerusalem Post reported that the family of 13-year-old Hallel Ariel, killed in a violent 2016 terror attack in Israel, is now suing the Palestinian Authority for $30 million CDN.

Shurat HaDin, Israel Law Center is helping the Ariel family with their case.

The report says the money is the same amount the Palestinian government is paying the terrorist’s family.

The Center, in 2013, helped Canadian victims seek justice in the first case of our country’s (then new) anti-terrorism laws, including Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act

Counted among its successes is the Center’s efforts to scuttle what would have been the second “Gaza flotilla,” after the first in 2010 ended in violent clashes. Because every vessel in international waters requires maritime insurance, the Center informed every major insurance provider of another potential altercation, with which they may be responsible for paying out in damages. Not liking the odds, no insurance provider would sign on to the second flotilla, and the ship never left the dock.

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The Center’s director is attorney Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, and I asked her questions about what people should know about her work.

Why was Shurat HaDin formed?

Money, we realized, is the oxygen to terrorism. If we block the flow of the money, we can block the flow of terrorism.

Who are some of the biggest international offenders, in terms of the banks, that allow funds to flow through their banks into the Palestinian Authority or Hamas?

In the beginning, there were major banks that provided financial services to these organizations. There were Arab banks, European banks, Chinese banks, Lebanese banks, and we went after these banks.

We actually did it with the help of the Israeli security forces. They obtained a lot of evidence during their operations, which allowed us to bring it to court against those who wired the money and facilitated the transactions. These are the banks that helped countries like Iran, or Muslim communities in Europe and the United States, to wire money to the hands of these organizations in the West Bank and Gaza.

As a result of the lawsuits, it sent a shock through the international banking system, where no one would agree to open bank accounts with these organizations, or to provide financial services to an Islamic charity that identified with a terror organization, or to even operate in terror zones like South Lebanon or Gaza.

Today, you won’t find – or you would hardly find – a bank in the western world that will agree to affiliate with a terror organization and support it. It’s a violation of the Anti-Terrorism Act of the United States. Since most of the banks want to have a relationship with the United States, they will refrain from assisting organizations.

Nitsana Darshan-Leitner speaking at Chabad at Flamingo's 2015 gala dinner, in the Greater Toronto Area | Photo: Jack Beker Photography | Courtesy Chabad at Flamingo

This is a reward program within the Palestinian Authority.

It’s called the ‘prisoner’s law’ in the Palestinian Authority, to pay certain amounts to the terrorists (or their families) according to the severity of what they’ve done.

There is an award scale, running between $500 to $3,500 USD a month per terrorist, proportionate to the offence or ‘achievement’ – which means the number of Jews or Israelis killed.

Today, the Palestinian Authority transfers $300 million USD according to this law.

Tell us about why you are suing Citi Bank?

Citi Bank has a relationship with the Bank of Palestine. When Bank of Palestine wants to wire money somewhere, it needs to use the services of Citi Bank.

The Bank of Palestine is one of the major banks that the Palestinian Authority is utilizing to pay money in this award program, to the terrorists or family of the terrorists. So, Citi Bank, by providing financial services to a bank that supports terrorism, and pays for terrorism, is violating the anti-terrorism act in the United States, and can be sued.

Nitsana Darshan-Leitner with Benny Gantz in 2013 | Photo: Courtesy Shurat HaDin

You go after the banks that allow funds to be transferred to terrorists. Yet, the Israeli government has released funds to the Palestinian Authority. There seems to be a contradiction here. Here you are as an organization going after a bank that releases funds for the Pay to Slay program, while the Israeli government has decided to release funds, that will go to the Palestinian Authority, and make their way to these very same terrorists. Does this mean that you’ll also be going after the Israeli government?

We did. We did it by a high court petition that we filed against the State of Israel against the Treasury of Israel.

What we witnessed was Israeli banks, exactly like Citi Bank, have a connection with the Bank of Palestine, and the Palestinian Authority, which facilitates all these transactions with the “Pay to Slay” policy.

We saw that these Israeli banks were afraid, that they were aiding and abetting terrorism. They were afraid of being sued by the families of terror victims. So, they reached out to the Treasury of Israel and told them that they want to stop their connection with Palestinian banks.

But the State of Israel and the Treasury forced them to continue, because … without that, the Palestinian Authorities’ economic situation will collapse.

Israel knows that at the end of the day, the PA will always pay the terrorist. So, Israel’s hands are tied.  

Igal Hecht is a documentary filmmaker and journalist who works all over the world. 

For more info visit www.chutzpaproductions.com

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Thank you for choosing TheJ.Ca as your source for Canadian Jewish News.

We do news differently!

Our positioning as a Zionist News Media platform sets us apart from the rest. While other Canadian Jewish media are advocating increasingly biased progressive political and social agendas, TheJ.Ca is providing more and more readers with a welcome alternative and an ideological home.

We revealed the incursion of anti-Israel progressive elements such as IfNotNow into our communities. We have exposed the distorted hateful agenda of the “progressive” left political radicals who brought Linda Sarsour to our cities, and we were first to report on many disturbing incidents of Nazi-based hate towards Jews across Canada.

But we can’t do it alone. We need your HELP!

Our ability to thrive and grow in 2020 and beyond depends on the generosity of committed readers and supporters like you.

Monthly support is a great way to help us sustain our operations. We greatly appreciate any contributions you can make to support Jewish Journalism.

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