Shurat HaDin (SHD), the Israeli lawfare group founded and funded initially by the Mossad to target Palestinian militant groups resisting Israeli Occupation, suffered a major defeat in a U.S. Supreme Court decision. The Court threw out a claim advanced by the group’s attorney on behalf of 6,000 family members of Palestinian terror victims, against the Arab Bank of Jordan. The NGO claimed that the Bank had held accounts used by militants to organize and fund terror attacks against Israelis.
SHD argued its case using the Alien Tort Statute of 1798, which allows American citizens to pursue damages against foreign entities when their property is arbitrarily seized abroad. Though the media is portraying the decision as a major narrowing of the terms under which such claims may be brought, they are missing a key element of the case. The Court largely rejected Shurat HaDin’s evidence and claims as shoddy. It noted that the group’s lawyer found little or no actual evidence to tie the Bank to the acts of terror which were the basis for the tort claim. Justice Kennedy, writing for the majority found a:
“…Relatively minor connection between the terrorist attacks at issue in this case and the alleged conduct in the United States.”
A lawyer representing plaintiffs in another similar case added that the decision went out of its way to avoid a categorical rejection of such claims against American companies doing business abroad. Though the court’s four liberal justices all were in the minority and supported Shurat HaDin’s claims, I’d venture to say they didn’t see through the lawfare ruse it has used in bringing hundreds of nuisance cases against Arab and Muslim nations and groups which support Palestinian resistance against Israel. In other words, this NGO does not seek justice. Rather, it is a key element of a political and military war against Palestine. The Court said, I believe, that if you want to fight such a war, leave American courts out of it.
The group has lately been on quite a losing streak:
In a separate case involving U.S. citizens brought under a different law, a New York jury in 2014 found Arab Bank liable for facilitating two dozen militant attacks in Israel. That ruling was overturned on appeal in January.
It’s general strategy, much like that of Kenneth Marcus’ Brandeis Center, is based on a flimsy legal premise which many courts, when they hear the merits of the argument, reject.
Similarly, it has launched a campaign suing social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, blaming content posted by Palestinian and other Arab users for inciting terrorism. Another dubious claim which has not yet been adjudicated in a court; but which hopefully will be dismissed just as this case was.
Separately, Shurat HaDin’s founder, Nitsana Darshan Leitner published a book, Harpoon, which lays out her NGO’s legal strategy intended to “bankrupt terrorism, one case at a time.” It’s noteworthy, as this highly critical review points out, that her title assumes the name of the Mossad unit tasked with tracing terror financing. She couldn’t make it any clearer that she and her legal group are a creature of the Israeli intelligence apparatus, rather than a legitimate legal entity.
It’s ironic, by the way, that the Israel Lobby has tried to monopolize the term “lawfare” to portray a supposed global attempt by the pro-Palestinian movement to abuse the law in pursuit of its goal of destroying Israel. In truth, this is precisely what Shurat HaDin does.
Shurat ha Din is not the loser in this case. The losers are the families and victims of the Hamas terror bombing campaign that injured the plaintiffs. The winners are the big money banks, and their very, very well paid lawyers.
Hardly anything to ‘kvell about’.
The instant case went the way it did, because plaintiff’s had relied on the old, barely used, Alien Tort Statute.
In another case brought against the Arab Bank of Jordan, where the newer, contemporary, Anti-Terrorism Act was used, a federal jury found Arab Bank liable for knowingly supporting Hamas, and the Arab Bank reached an out of court settlement with the plaintiffs.
Today’s Supreme Court decision cut’s both ways.
Now, if Palestinian plaintiffs want to sue corporations in America for torts committed against Palestinians in the Occupied Territories, they will now find the doors to American courts barred to them too.
Richard Silverstein says
Wrong. ShD is the loser because it devised this idiotic legal strategy. It suckered the victims’ families into joining the case and gave them false hope that they would be their big payday. If these families really want to honor their dead they should join Parent’s Circle and set up a mourners tent outside Bibi’s residence & stay there till he negotiates a deal. That is the only way to stop terrorism for certain. Oh and I’m waiting for the day ShD files a case against Jewish terrorists on behalf of their Palestinian victims…
Saying the Bank’s well paid lawyers are the victors is ludicrous because the entire reason ShD’s lawyers have been roped into the case is the huge payday for their firms if they win. No one is doing this for altruistic reasons. ShD doesn’t really care about victims. They are a useful tool in attacking Palestinian resistance. That’s all.
Your concern for Palestinians is so moving and heartfelt. If you or ShD really cared about the Tort Statute or victims’ rights on either side of this conflict you wouldn’t have used such a flimsy strategy based on such a paltry amount of evidence.
BTW, I don’t see ShD or you going after banks who hold accounts for white supremacist or Jewishh terrorists who engage in such acts. Why is that? Don’t answer, we know already.
You’re done in this thread.
“ShD is the loser because it devised this idiotic legal strategy. It suckered the victims’ families into joining the case and gave them false hope”
This was not an idiotic legal strategy. The Alien Tort Statute has been used effectively by lawyers for over thirty years, and in the instant case, four out of the nine Supreme Court Justices believe plaintiffs reliance on the ATS was appropriate.
“BTW, I don’t see ShD or you going after banks who hold accounts for white supremacist or Jewishh terrorists who engage in such acts. ”
American attorneys representing Palestinian plaintiffs have filed suits in Federal Courts suing banks and corporations who do business with Israel. Corrie v Caterpillar, al Tamimmi v Adelson, et al, are two such case that immediately come to mind. These American lawyers and their Palestinian plaintiffs have not fared well in Federal Court but I wouldn’t say that these pro-Palestinian American lawyers suckered their clients.
They gave it their best shot and they lost.
Richard Silverstein says
@ Frank: It certainly is an idiotic strategy. The four justices did not find in favor of ShD per se. They ruled as they did because they wished to preserve the Alien Tort Statute for legitimate uses and purposes. Unfortunately they were given this stupid case and had to hold their nose while they voted to overturn the lower court ruling. ShD, with this act of legal prostitution, hijacked a perfectly valid statute and essentially allowed the Court to gut it. All to flatter their delusional legal campaign.
I didn’t say that no lawyer has sued against U.S. companies for their acts against Palestinians. I said that ShD was entirely hypocritical because IT didn’t do so. If it really cared about human rights, rather than Israeli Jewish rights, it would do so. This is precisely what the ACLU does. It takes cases on the right & left as long as they ally with its mission. ShD is founded on a racist principle that only Jews are victims of terror deserving of legal representation.
Paranam Kid says
Yesterday Jonathan Ofir published an article about Israeli lawfare:
“a recent Freedom of Information (FOI) request reveals that the Israeli Justice Ministry has been directly involved in hiring international law firms to combat European BDS activists and NGOs.”
Colin Wright says
The thing about groups like Shurat ha Din ‘losing’ is that they never ‘lose’ in the sense of having any gain reversed.
One way and another, Zionist groups keep nibbling at our freedoms, circumscribing our freedom of speech, muzzling university students, making financial institutions unwilling to do business with any entity opposed to Israel. Sometimes — as here — one of their more outrageous efforts gets swatted down, but when does anything they got get reversed? When does an untenured university lecturer discover that he really can speak the truth about Israel and not ruin his career, for example? When does a mainstream paper discover it can report on Israel’s outrages after all? When do Americans regain the ability to support worthy — or for that matter, unworthy — causes in Gaza?
These things get started, but they never get stopped. It’s a bit like living in a soft-core version of the Soviet Union, 1920-1940. Yeah, sometimes we’re allowed to retain one of our freedoms for a while — but when do we actually get any back?
Occupy on! says
Thank you for expressing this shadowed truth so clearly.
The real losers in this case are all the thousands of people hurt by corporations — some of them American — around the world who are not “off scott free” after taking part in horrible human rights violations. Oil companies, many of them, spreading toxins in local water supplies and using paid troops, even government troops, to keep protesters away from their profitable engines of destruction.
S/C was not protecting this bank alone but all corporations which are now (in the USA anyhoe) wholly unaccountable for human rights violations. S/C sided with one court of appeals, the only one, which thought corporations should be shielded; and S/C is of course wildly in favor of alkl-powerful corporations.