Fighting terrorism in courts and banks


PROVIDENCE – It’s an innovative idea: Fighting terrorism by bankrupting terrorist organizations. But that’s exactly what Israeli attorney Nitsana Darshan-Leitner is working to do. 

The director of Shurat HaDin, the Israel Law Center, Darshan-Leitner spoke to about 90 people Monday night at the Alliance’s Dwares Jewish Community Center.

“If you want to stop terrorism, you have to stop the money,” she said.  Her nonprofit is working toward bankrupting terrorists – one lawsuit at a time.

Through stories of terror incidents and their victims, accompanied by details of legal actions that she and her organization have taken, she described how Shurat HaDin fights terrorism in the courts of Israel, the United States and Canada. The Tel Aviv-based organization has sued the Palestinian Authority, the Palestine Liberation Organization, Boeing and Airbnb, among others. When they win a financial settlement, the money is given to terrorism victims.

In addition to fighting terrorist funding, Shurat HaDin has taken on cases against social media platforms, such as Facebook, in an effort to stop terror incitement. Darshan-Leitner described how terrorists have posted on Facebook before stabbings, and received many encouraging messages.

“Imagine what ISIS would be like without YouTube,” she said.

Shurat HaDin also takes on cases that charge Israel with war crimes, and it is combatting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.

“These are unprecedented cases,” Darshan-Leitner said. “This is not just a Jewish problem. It’s not an Israeli problem.” She emphasized that terrorism exists worldwide.

“I believe we will win. We want to live safely in our country. We are fighting for our national survival,” she said.

The program was presented by the Rhode Island Coalition for Israel, and co-sponsored by the Jewish Alliance of Greater Rhode Island, Providence Kollel and Project Shoresh.

At the beginning of the program, R.I. State Police Lt. Col. Joseph Philbin received the “Mensch of the Year” award, a new community recognition from RICI.

Philbin, a 25-year veteran of the Rhode Island State Police, went to Israel for a police training exchange in December 2018. He has been speaking to groups about his Israeli experiences.

“I am amazed and honored to receive this award,” Philbin said. “That trip changed my life.”

Earlier in the day, he announced his retirement from the state police.