Friday, February 28, 2014

The "Palestinian Nation" Fallacy

The "Palestinian Nation" Fallacy

Wanting to destroy another nation does not define a group as a nation.

Eli E. Hertz

The artificiality of a Palestinian identity is reflected in the attitudes and actions of neighboring Arab states that never established a Palestinian state or advocated one prior to the Six-Day War in 1967.

What unites Palestinian Arabs has been their opposition to Jewish nationalism and the desire to stamp it out, not aspirations for their own state. Local patriotic feelings are generated only when a non-Islamic entity takes charge – such as Israel did in 1967 after the Six-Day War, and dissipates under Arab rule, as it was under the rule of Jordan prior to 1967.

Culturally, Palestinians are not distinct from other Arabs. The sole contributions Palestinians can take credit for are the invention of skyjacking for political purposes in the 1960s, and a special brand of suicidal terrorism that uses their own youth as delivery systems for bombing pizza parlors, discos, and public commuter buses.

Ironically, before local Jews began calling themselves Israelis in 1948 (the name Israel was chosen for the newly established Jewish state), the term ‘Palestine’ applied almost exclusively to Jews and the institutions founded by new Jewish immigrants in the first half of the 20th century, before independence. Some examples include:

• The Jerusalem Post, founded in 1932, was called “The Palestine Post” until 1948.

• Bank Leumi L’Israel was called the “Anglo-Palestine Bank,” a Jewish Company.

• The Jewish Agency – an arm of the Zionist movement engaged in Jewish settlement since 1929 – was called the “Jewish Agency for Palestine.”

• Today’s Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, founded in 1936 by German Jewish refugees who fled Nazi Germany, was called the “Palestine Symphony Orchestra,” composed of some 70 Palestinian Jews.

• The United Jewish Appeal (UJA) was established in 1939 as a merger of the “United Palestine Appeal” and the fundraising arm of the Joint Distribution Committee.

And Princeton University professor of Semitic literature Philip Hitti (1886-1978), one of the greatest Arabic historians of the ninth century and author of ‘The History of the Arabs,’ testifying on behalf of the Arab cause, told the Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry on Palestine in 1946: “There is no ‘Palestine’ in history, absolutely not.”

Temple Mount cannot be under Jordan's thumb

Temple Mount cannot be under Jordan's thumb

Nadav Shragai

For years now, the Temple Mount has not been in our hands and Israeli sovereignty in the area has been de facto conditional. The past three generations have seen Jews allowed to visit the compound, but only as long as they do not look like Jews, pray like Jews and, at times, as long as they do not mention to anyone that they had been there.

It has been 47 years since Moshe Dayan handed over the keys to the Temple Mount to the Jerusalem waqf (Islamic trust) and ever since then we have been forced to stomach straw and gravel, incitement and violence, exclusion and damage to antiquities. Hamas and Palestinian Authority flags are flown over the area more often than not and it seems that the only flag the police make sure is never seen there as is Israel's flag, and most recently -- Jewish worshipers.

On Tuesday, just like two weeks ago, and two months ago, and a year ago, the compound was closed to Jewish visitors over the Muslim worshipers' riots and threats of violence. The meager allowances made to the Jewish worshipers to visit the holy site in set hours and in very small groups, are being eroded.

The status quo on the Temple Mount, which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seeks to maintain, is fluid and the current allowances are constantly gnawed at to the detriment of the Jewish side. It is one thing if we were to stick to and uphold the official status quo, but as things stand, the Muslims are gaining increased control over the Temple Mount. When it comes to the Muslim worshipers the status quo is as pliable as play dough, but when it comes to the Jews it is as hard as a rock.

Jordan's position on the Temple Mount is becoming stronger. Israel believed that to keep radical elements, such as Islamic Movement head Sheikh Raed Salah, at bay, Jordan's status there should be bolstered, but while the original intent was well meant, the reality has seen it taken too far. Far enough, in fact, that last week, Jordan was able to pressure Israel into postponing a Knesset session on Israeli sovereignty over the Temple Mount. Far enough, it seems, that Jordan's influence has exceeded the Temple Mount and now stretches beyond it.

In the early 2000s, Jordan was entrusted with the restoration of the southern and eastern walls, whose foundations have destabilized. It then vetoed the Israeli plan to replace the temporary, rickety wooden bridge leading to the Mughrabi Gate at the Western Wall with a permanent one. They fail to see -- and justly so, as far as they are concerned -- the difference between the walls. The result is an eyesore leading up to Judaism's holiest site.

A similar Jordanian veto is currently preventing adequate restoration work at the Little Western Wall, some 180 meters (590 feet) north of the Western Wall plaza. Was that really what we meant when we sought cooperation with Jordan?

As part of the 1994 peace treaty with Jordan, Israel pledged to "afford high priority to Jordan's historic role" on the Temple Mount, should the peace process mature to the point where its permanent status in negotiated. In reality, this priority is already in effect.

In 2012, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority signed a mysterious treaty regulating the two's respective status on the Temple Mount. Israel's fingerprints are evident there as well, as it sought to ensure Jordan's role as the leading Arab entity on the Temple Mount ahead of time, but things have gone too far yet again.

It is inconceivable that Jordan's influence on the Temple Mount would cripple Israel, even given the special -- and less known -- ties between the two countries. The Muslims' violence in the compound is a red line and unless it ceases they should be temporarily barred from the Temple Mount. It has been done before and the sky did not fall down around us. The Muslims must be made to understand that when it comes to the Temple Mount, they also have something to lose.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Freedom of worship — for Jews in Israel

Freedom of worship — for Jews in Israel

The Temple Mount
The Temple Mount
A first-of-its-kind debate over the right of non-Muslims to enter, and pray at, the Temple Mount compound in Jerusalem was held at the Knesset on Tuesday, with over 30 MKs from both right wing and left wing parties requesting to voice their opinion on the divisive topic. Almost all of the parliament’s Arab members chose not to attend the discussion in protest over the decision to hold it. …

“The Israeli leadership is shirking its calling,” [MK Moshe Feiglin (Likud)] said at the opening of the session, during which he called for Jewish freedom of worship at the site where the first and second Jewish temples once stood.

“Behind the back of our people we gave up on any vestige of Israeli sovereignty at the Mount. Every terrorist organization can wave their flag there, but the flag of Israel? It must not be mentioned. Reciting a psalm is grounds for arrest. Even wearing a skullcap [at the site] is inadvisable by police standards.”

There is no question that the Temple Mount itself is the holiest site in Judaism, far exceeding the Western Wall. But when the Old City was captured in 1967, the decision was made by Defense Minister Moshe Dayan to place the responsibility to administer it in the hands of the Muslim Wakf of Jerusalem, although Israel claims national sovereignty over all of Jerusalem. Jews are not permitted to pray on the Mount “for fear that they will provoke a violent reaction from Muslims.”

Rabbi Shlomo Goren, IDF Chief Rabbi at the time, opposed the decision and wanted to construct a synagogue on the Mount. Although it is commonly thought that Goren also wanted to blow up the Muslim holy places, it is almost certain that this is a politically-motivated lie (see Shalom Freedman,Rabbi Shlomo Goren: Torah Sage and General, ch. 37).

This was once-in-a-millennium opportunity. The Muslims understood that they were defeated, and would have had to deal with Jewish religious rights on the Mount, especially when they it became clear to them that they too would be able to pray there and that their structures would not be destroyed (I’m sure in the first days, they fully expected it — it’s what they would do, after all).
But Dayan prevailed, and the chance was lost.
Freedman wrote,
…by leaving the total religious control of the Temple Mount in the hands of the Wakf, Moshe Dayan in effect taught them that they need not recognize any Jewish rights on the Mount. This … appears to be obviously linked with the failure of the Muslim world to recognize Jewish rights to any part of the Land of Israel. [p. 125]

Since then, the Wakf — as anyone could have predicted — has exercised its authority in ways intended to weaken Israeli sovereignty. For example it has ignored Israeli laws regarding safeguarding antiquities, digging in the area and discarding material of great archaeological significance, especially when it might suggest a historical Jewish presence there.

On a regular basis, riots and other violence are incited by the Islamic Movement, Hamas or PLO officials on the pretext that Jews are ‘storming’ the Mount, preparing to destroy the mosques, or even merely praying there. The Arabs claim that the Second Intifada began because Ariel Sharon dared to visit it (in fact, the Intifada was carefully planned in advance; but the fact that Sharon’s visit can be used to justify a murderous uprising is significant).

Anyone who understands Arab attitudes knows that an enemy that shows fear or even consideration is seen as weak and invites further aggression. So, naturally,
MK Zahava Gal-on of the left-wing Meretz party stated that though she believes Jews have a right to pray at the Temple Mount, such a right must be expressed only after consulting with Palestinian and Arab representatives. Feiglin’s proposal, Gal-on said, was “a match that could ignite the powder keg on which the Middle East rests,” and implementing it “would harm the peace process.”

What a combination of cowardice and ignorance! But that’s the Israeli Left.
There is really no good reason that Jews should not be allowed to share this holy place with Muslims, especially since many Jews died in order to secure the city (even though Dayan, like Gal-on, might have preferred to see it remain in Arab hands). It’s ironic that Israel, the Jewish state, takes pains to provide freedom of worship for Muslims while denying it to Jews.

Is Jordan Palestine?

Is Jordan Palestine?

Jerold Auerbach

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, accompanied by U.S. Ambassador to Jordan Stuart E. Jones, meets with King Abdullah II of Jordan before a session of the World Economic Forum in Dead Sea, Jordan, on May 26, 2013. Photo: U.S. State Department.

King Abdullah of Jordan is displaying discernible signs of panic over the future of his kingdom. Dismissing any notion that it might become an “alternative homeland” for Palestinians, he recently declared to high Jordanian officials: “Jordan is Jordan and Palestine is Palestine and nothing but that, not in the past or the future.”

According to Arutz Sheva (February 24), the Jordanian state news agency Petra reported that in a meeting with his parliamentary leaders the king warned of “talk about the so-called alternative homeland” for Palestinians. “This, God willing, will be the last time we talk about this subject.” There is, apparently, increasing apprehension in Amman lest Secretary of State Kerry’s proposed framework agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority might implicate Jordan. The king is worried that Jordan would be required to accept even more West Bank Palestinians than it already has (now comprising a majority of the population). He is hopeful that any peace agreement will include the transfer of Palestinians from Jordan to the new Palestinian state.

The first indication of  concern was back in 2007 with the revocation of Jordanian citizenship of thousands of Palestinians, who were declared to be “stateless refugees.” (Imagine the international outcry if Israel acted similarly toward its own Palestinian citizens.) Further revealing of their precarious status in the Hashemite kingdom, some 340,000 Palestinians are still confined in Jordanian refugee camps.

The king has reason to be worried lest Jordan might become the State of Palestine. History reveals why. Back in 1920, when the League of Nations Mandate to govern Palestine was bestowed upon Great Britain, it cited “the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine and the legitimacy of grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country.” Jews were granted the right of settlement throughout “Palestine,” comprising the land east and west of the Jordan River.

Great Britain, however, retained the right to “postpone” or “withhold” Jewish settlement east of the Jordan. Two years later, with the creation of Transjordan by the British to reward Prince Abdullah of Arabia for his wartime cooperation, Jewish settlement was restricted to the land – all of it – west of the Jordan. That right has never been rescinded. It includes Hebron no less than Tel Aviv.

So it is that Jordanian Palestinians are already at home, east of the Jordan River, which comprises two-thirds of Mandatory Palestine. Surely the resistance of Hashemite monarchs, backed by Bedouin tribes, should not be permitted by the international community to impede Palestinian statehood within the borders of their own national home according to international law.

Jordan’s Foreign Minister has firmly declared that his nation will not be an “alternative home for anybody.” That is one way of looking at it. But what if it were to become the national home of the Palestinian people, in Palestine as it was defined nearly a century ago? The result would be two states for two peoples. Loyal followers of the current Hashemite rulers could certainly expect to be treated at least as well as the Palestinians they have governed since 1948, when the Kingdom of Jordan invaded the fledgling Jewish state of Israel.

That futile attempt to drive Jews into the sea, in which Jordan’s Arab allies gleefully joined, created the Palestinian refugee problem that has been blamed on Israel ever since. King Abdullah may insist: “Jordan is Jordan and Palestine is Palestine.” History suggest otherwise: Jordan is Palestine. It should welcome Palestinians with open arms, grant them citizenship, vacate the refugee camps and yield to democratic imperatives – precisely as its next-door neighbor Israel did with its new refugees from Arab lands sixty-six years ago.

Surely that would mark a dramatic step toward peace now that even Secretary of State Kerry would gladly embrace.

Jerold S. Auerbach is the author of Jewish State Pariah Nation: Israel and the Dilemmas of Legitimacy, to be published next month by Quid Pro Books.

The Truth about the UN

The Truth about the UN

Ambassador Danny Ayalon spreads the truth about the UN. Hypocrisy and cynicism have taken over the United Nations, the delegitimization perpetrators and Israel boycotters take advantage of the UN's image as an advocate of human rights in order to pass anti-Israeli resolutions which attempt to isolate Israel. It is important to spread the truth that the UN has been transformed into a political arena by undemocratic states who trample on human rights, and UN resolutions must be treated accordingly".

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Messianic missionaries change tactics: "a huge problem bigger than ever"

Messianic missionaries change tactics: "a huge problem bigger than ever"

 Joanne Hill

Jews for Judaism’s Rabbi Michael Skobac, director of education, and Julius Ciss, executive director, are concerned about Messianic Jews changing how they proselytize Jews. Jews for Judaism’s Rabbi Michael Skobac, director of education, and Julius Ciss, executive director, are concerned about Messianic Jews changing how they proselytize Jews.

Messianic missionaries might not be approaching Jewish people on street corners anymore but that doesn’t mean the coast is clear: they’ve just changed venues.

“Some people [tell me], ‘Well, I don’t think there’s such a problem anymore,’” said Julius Ciss, executive director of Jews for Judaism. “They don’t see missionaries on the street anymore but the perception that there’s not a problem is wrong; the problem is huge, it is bigger than ever. What is happening is the missionaries have changed their tactics with the times and the internet is where a lot of stuff is happening.”

A case in point: a GTA-based, multi-pronged pilot project for the In Search of Shalom campaign spearheaded by local groups Life in Messiah Canada and New Covenant Forum.

An online call for volunteers describes the “[a]ggressive advertising” intended to lead Jewish individuals to a website, which can connect them immediately by phone, instant messaging or texting to people who will “share the gospel with Jewish sensitivity and sensibility” and make referrals to local evangelists.

The advertising has been targetted to reach people in predominantly Jewish neighbourhoods, said Daniel Muller, general director, New Covenant Forum.

They’ve purchased ad space on every bus leaving Toronto’s Wilson Station between the end of August and the end of December and they paid Canada Post to deliver postcards in October to residences in specific high-density “areas and streets...along the Bathurst corridor,” said Muller.

The ads and postcard pose a religious question and include a quote from Psalm 34. The word shalom is written in English and Hebrew, creating the impression that the ads have been placed by a Jewish organization. A website address is listed but the campaign organizers are not named.

Both Muller and David Brewer, a representative of Life in Messiah Canada, refused to share the names of the other organizations and individuals involved in the campaign. This information is also not available on the campaign website.

Sam Walker, who was involved in the messianic movement in the past, said his antenna went up when he saw one of the ads on the back of a city bus.

“Sometimes, when an ad or synagogue seems too Jewish, it’s not Jewish at all,” said Walker. “It’s like they’re trying to out-Jew themselves by pretending to be [Jewish].”

Muller and Brewer also declined to divulge the budget for the campaign or disclose how many people had responded to their campaign. Brewer said the organizers had not yet decided if the pilot project was a success or if it would be launched in other cities or countries.

Some west Thornhill residents, an area of Vaughan with a large Jewish population, were hit with a double evangelical whammy in October. The soft-cover book The Twelve Sons of Israel showed up in their mailboxes through an unrelated campaign run by the City of David Messianic Synagogue of Thornhill, the International Alliance of Messianic Congregations and Synagogues (IAMCS) and the Messianic Jewish Alliance of America.

The book was delivered by Canada Post, but volunteers also dropped books off at some houses, leading some angry homeowners to call and tell them not to come back, according to Jeffrey Forman, spiritual leader of the City of David Messianic Synagogue of Thornhill, who said he was ordained as a “messianic rabbi” by IAMCS.

The budget for the book campaign was “modest,” said Forman, and his people “have not had a flood of calls inquiring about faith in messiah.”

Reuben and Sharyn Cipin said everyone in their retirement condo got the book and so did a relative and a friend who live in two other buildings. All three buildings have a high percentage of Jewish residents.
“A lot of people have been upset and many of them threw it out,” Sharyn Cipin said.

There is a massive effort being undertaken by Christians who want to convert Jews, said Rabbi Michael Skobac, director of education of Jews for Judaism.

“We have in our files about 1,000 Christian organizations dedicated to converting Jews,” said Rabbi Skobac.

He attends an annual Christian conference and “every year there are between 7 and 12 different Christian groups in the Toronto area that are targetting specifically Jews for conversion. Now, I go through the same exhibit hall and try to find out how many tables are set up to target the Hindu, Buddhist or Islamic communities of Toronto: [there are] none.”

People in Yehuda Friedberg’s condo received both the postcard and the book. He has also seen proselytizers outside his synagogue a few times.

“It’s definitely a concerted effort…. I mean, I consider it intimidation; they probably consider it saving our souls,” said Friedberg.

The Palestinians – the people who always refuse a state

The Palestinians – the people who always refuse a state

This is another guest post by frequent contributor and reader Brian Goldfarb.

Israel accepts Quartet's peace negotiations proposal. Palestinians objectAbba Eban it was who came up with two of the greatest quotes on the post-1967 Israel/Palestine situation. The first was that “I think that this is the first war in history that on the morrow the victors sued for peace and the vanquished called for unconditional surrender.“ We must bear in mind that it is usually the defeated who sue for peace,  just to stop the further destruction of their territory and what’s left of their armed forces. This was not a sign of Israel’s weakness – hardly: it had just destroyed 3 Arab states’ armies and air forces in less than a week – but a sign that the last thing it wanted was to control and rule over Gaza, the West Bank (as everyone knew it then) and the Golan Heights. The Palestinians (as they weren’t yet known: that came a bit later) could have had their own state by the end of 1967, had they seriously wanted anything other the destruction of Israel. And, of course, Assad the elder could have had the Golan Heights back as well.
Eban also came up with this superb aphorism: “The Arabs never miss and opportunity to miss an opportunity”. It surprises none of us that they are still doing so. In evidence, note that the headline of this Algemeiner article is “Palestine Arabs – The People Who Always Refuse a State“. Pity about the plagiarism of the Eban quote. Still, perhaps the authors (Lee S. Bender and Jerome R. Verlin) are too young to remember Eban! 
Academic (as a retired one) complaining apart, there are quite a number of delightful quotes here. For example:
There are many peoples on this planet that would do anything for their independence, sovereignty, and a state of their own if it was offered to them. Just ask the Kurds, Tibetans, Basques, and Chechens. “
Some of them, of course, are doing just that – anything (the Tibetans apart – they are Buddhists and remarkably peaceable towards others. Not that the same can be said of all the others!) Well, you know what’s coming, of course. It is, in fact, the very next paragraph, and contains no surprises, given the headline already quoted:
“Yet there is one singular group that continues to spurn offers of statehood, missing and wasting numerous opportunities, and blaming others for its “victimhood”- and then commits horrendous acts of terrorism and violence when offered almost all of what it wants. We are referring, of course, to the Palestinian Arabs – a people who, unlike the Kurds, do not have their own religion, language, or culture that’s different in essence from their Arab brethren in neighboring ‎Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon. The Palestinian Arabs have answered every peace offer for their own “Palestinian” state with one unequivocal word, “no,” and then initiated a wave of hatred, violence, and terrorism. The reason? Because it would also mean recognition of and co-existence with a non-Arab people, the Jews.”
Bender and Verlin then go on to make the obvious point (obvious, at least, in these columns – if not in the unhallowed halls of the BDS movement) that there is already a Palestinian state in 78% of the land set aside in the Balfour Declaration and in the original British Mandate document, and it’s called Jordan. Jordan also occupied, until 1967 of course, a further portion of this area, called, at the time, the West Bank. We need to note, as do Bender and Verlin, that 
“The offers of another Palestinian Arab state (which would be the 23rd Arab state) in the remaining western portion of the Palestine Mandate date back to the 1937 Peel Commission. That began a consistent pattern of rejected offers through to the present…The current Kerry-led negotiations also appear to be heading in that direction. Yet the Palestinian Arabs still adamantly reject the “two state solution” of an “Arab State” and “Jewish State” referenced in the 1947 UN partition resolution.” 
Of course they do: remember, they “never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity”. Why should they? After all, they’ve only lost every war they’ve ever mounted to get their own state: 1947 (the Arab militias – see Benny Morris “1948: The First Arab-Israeli War”); the 1948 War of Independence (Morris, ditto); the undeclared terrorist war leading up to the 1967 War; the First and Second Intifidas; the undeclared missile wars launched by Hamas from Gaza (leading to Operation Cast Lead –  at best, only partly successful from Israel’s point of view; and the more  successful “Pillar of Cloud”, which appears to have set Hamas back on its heels, with not an Israeli boot across the border). 
So, why should the Obama/Kerry initiative be any more successful? This assumes that we are naive enough to think that (unlike Clinton, twice) they actually want it to succeed and wish to see the acknowledgement of a Jewish State by the PA. Personally, I’m sceptical, given that duo’s attitude towards negotiations with Iran over their bomb.
Tempting as it is to stop there and leave the rest of the article for you to read, I feel the need to go further. Thus, they continue with this:
So it is instructive to ask, what do the Palestinian Arabs really want? If we would only listen to what they persistently say and read their charters, we would understand: the eradication of ‎Israel through armed struggle, replacing the Jewish state with a Palestinian Arab state. Just read the charters of the Palestinian Authority, PLO, Fatah, and Hamas, and it is laid out in straightforward unambiguous terms. It really is no wonder they say “no” to a state if it also means that they have to recognize the tiny Jewish state alongside it. There are already 22 Arab states with a population of 400 million and land mass 625 times that of Israel, versus 6.2 million Jews in a sliver of land the size of New Jersey.”
We have seen a preview of what their state will be like: ‎Gaza, which has become a terrorist launching pad for tens of thousands of rockets and missiles into Israel since Israel left…It is a failed entity ruled by the corrupt, genocidal, terrorist entity Hamas, which steadfastly refuses to recognize Israel.”
In summary, “Israel ‎‎has no reliable “peace partner” in the Western sense”. So, even if Kerry and Obama are pursuing the “peace process” in good faith, the outcome is unlikely to be one that “two-staters” will welcome, land swaps or no land swaps, agreement on Jerusalem or no agreement on Jerusalem.
Bender and Verlin have more to say (much of it depressing to those of us who wish for a final settlement, satisfactory to Israel and Israelis (even I am getting to the stage of caring less whether it would be satisfactory to Palestinians, just that it would stop them attacking Israel and Israelis), and I urge you to read it for yourselves. They make the mistake of failing to include Hezbollah in their list of those who say “no” to everything: a serious error, as Hezbollah are sitting balefully on much of Israel’s border with Lebanon.
You might also care to note that they have “form” in these matters: Lee S. Bender and Jerome R. Verlin are co-President and co-Vice President, respectively, of the Zionist Organization of America- Greater Philadelphia District. They are the authors of Pressing Israel: Media Bias Exposed From A-Z (Pavilion Press, 2012). Verlin is the author of Israel 3000 Years: The Jewish People’s 3000 Year Presence in Palestine (Pavilion Press, 2011)
Seem good guys to me!

Anne adds:
Brian, thank you for your cogent summarisation of this excellent, if depressing, article.

A golden oldie, as relevant today as ever
I would add a further article on a similar subject which goes to show the lengths that the Palestinians will go in order to avoid agreeing to a state of their own if it does not entail the destruction of Israel. Khaled Abu Toameh in the Gatestone Institute writes that Mahmoud Abbas has come under criticism from his own people for not agreeing to flood Israel with millions of refugees – which would mean the end of Israel as a Jewish, democratic or free country. Not that I actually believe that Abbas has had a change of heart. He was simply doing that “Taqiyya” (aka lying) thing – saying one thing in English or Hebrew for the willing and useful idiots of the West, and another thing entirely in Arabic for domestic consumption.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is facing criticism from Palestinian refugees for saying that he does not want to “flood” Israel with millions of refugees.
Abbas made his statement during a meeting in his Ramallah office earlier this week with dozens of Israeli students – the first direct encounter of its kind between the Palestinian Authority president and Israeli youths.
Abbas’s controversial remarks about the “right of return” highlight the difficulties facing U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in his efforts to achieve a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. The Palestinian reactions to Abbas’s remarks show that the issue of the refugees remains a sensitive and explosive one that could torpedo any agreement between the Israelis and Palestinians.
Abbas told the Israeli students that the claim that he was seeking to “flood” Israel with five million refugees was nonsense.
“There is propaganda saying that Abu Mazen [Abbas] wants the return of five million refugees to destroy the state of Israel,” he said. “This is not true at all. All what we said was: Let’s place the issue of the refugees on the table because it’s a sensitive case which needs to be solved in order to end the conflict and so that the refugees would be satisfied with a peace agreement. But we are not seeking to drown Israel with millions in order to change its demography. This is nonsense.”
Dr. Esam Udwan, an expert on refugee affairs, was quoted as saying that “Abbas’s statements have caused damage to Palestinian rights.” Accusing Abbas of providing Israel with concessions in return for nothing, Udwan said, “These remarks reflect Abbas’s conviction that the issue of the refugees is ineffective and they have no right to return because this would mean drowning Israel. This is completely unacceptable. Who said that there are only five million refugees? The real number is eight million. Abbas mentioned the five million who are registered with UNRWA and benefit from its services. But there are millions of others who do not receive services from UNRWA and are not registered with it. This does not mean that they should be denied the right of return.”
I love the way Palestinian maths work. I would love to hear how the 1/2 million or so refugees from 1948 grew to 5 million within 60 years and then jumped another 3 million within a further 5 years.
Ali Huwaidi, another expert on refugee affairs, also lashed out at Abbas: “Regardless of Abbas’s statements, the right of return is guaranteed, individually and collectively, through UN resolutions. The refugees will not give up their right no matter where they are living today. Abbas is worried about flooding Israel with five million refugees while Israel has brought one million people from the former Soviet Union and no one complained about this. Our refugees will not accept any alternative to their right to return to their homeland and we do not care what Abbas’s position is.”
Many Palestinians said that Abbas was not authorized to make any concessions or speak on behalf of the refugees.
With that mindset, together with all the examples shown in Brian’s post above, can anyone foresee a Palestinian state any time in the future at all?
You won’t catch me crying about the lack of a Palestinian state. I happen to think it would be a dreadful idea, an existential threat on Israel’s very doorstep, a literal stone’s throw and missile shot from our commercial, industrial, civilian and historical heartland.  But this constant refusal and rejectionism on the part of the Palestinians means that the state of war in which Israel finds itself will continue indefinitely, with no hope of any peaceful resolution. It also means that israel will find itself under constant international pressure to “do something, anything” to satisfy the insatiable beast that is Palestinian rejectionism.

Jordanian Sheikh: Israel Belongs to the Jews!

Jordanian Sheikh: Israel Belongs to the Jews!

 Yossi Aloni  

Sheikh Ahmed Aladoan of Amman, a member of Jordan’s well-known Adwan tribe, posted to Facebook this week that there is no such place as “Palestine,” and provided references from the Koran to back up his assertion.

One of the Koranic verses provided states that Allah gave the Holy Land to the sons of Israel until the Day of Judgment (Surah Al-Ma’ida, verse 21), and the other (Surah Al-Shara’a, verse 59) says that the land was bequeathed to the Jews.

The sheikh turned to those who “distort the words of the Koran,” whom he labeled as liars, and questioned where they had even come up with the name “Palestine.” He insisted their claims to the Land of Israel were forfeit because “Allah is the protector of the Children of Israel.”

 And if that wasn’t enough, the sheikh went on to turn the tables on the anti-Israel propaganda machine by accusing the Palestinians of killing children, the elderly and women, of using human shields, and of having not an ounce of mercy for even their own children.

The sheikh’s words caused a storm in the Arab media, and were picked up by the Israeli Embassy in Amman.

The Arabic daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi further explained the sheikh’s position, noting that he supports the notion that Jordan is Palestine, and insists that Arabs living both in Jordan and the Palestinian Authority-controlled territories would almost all love to be Israeli citizens.

The Adwan tribe issued a statement distancing itself from Sheikh Aladoan’s remarks. But the sheikh was not intimidated, and insisted he would continue to make his voice heard on these matters.

Last year, Sheikh Aladoan visited Israel and spent time with the chief rabbi of Tsfat (Safed), Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu. The sheikh informed Rabbi Eliyahu and his students that in the Koran, “there is no name ‘Palestine’ for this land, and therefore, the Arabs should not be fighting the Jews over control of this land.”

Watch the following video of their encounter. Most of the video is in Hebrew, but around the 2:00 mark, Sheikh Aladoan’s assistant translates his words in English.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Woman Who Makes the Jihadis Squirm

The Woman Who Makes the Jihadis Squirm

David Hazony

By forcing global terrorists into courtrooms around the world, Nitsana Darshan-Leitner has pulled the rug out from under their chaotic, demonic methodology. Photos: Aviram Valdman

When I was a child, terrorism scared me more than the other kids.

Immigrants carry the fears they know to their new countries and pass them on to their children, often out of context. So having Israeli parents in New Jersey in the 1970s meant growing up worrying that Arab terrorists—rather than kidnappers, tornadoes, or ICBMs—were going to get me. Each night we waited for Walter Cronkite to tell us what evils had befallen our faraway people. A hijacked airplane. A seaside resort attacked by men with rifles and grenades. An elementary school, the murder of children. I was Israeli, and I believed these things could happen to me, too.

In that world, terrorists were crazy, demented, evil people who took guns into schoolhouses and shot up buses and reveled in the blood they had shed, all in order to make a political statement—a statement that my people, my family, my life had no legitimacy at all. It was both grotesque and chaotic. Outside of the realms of law and sense and humanity.

And then I grew up, and the same dark forces expanded and threatened to engulf the whole world: 9/11 and 7/7 and Madrid and Mumbai made terrorism everyone’s problem.

But then, after a few years of major global concern and greater and lesser wars, something else happened. At some point in the last decade, terrorism went from being something demonic and nightmarish to something more like a disease that we knew how to fight. Dangerous if left untreated, but beatable nonetheless. We had somehow put it into a box.

Part of what changed was the determination of Western governments, especially after 9/11, to militarily attack terror bases around the world. Al-Qaeda, in particular, had its whole command structure decimated. But alongside the military campaign was the recognition that terror networks needed money, legitimacy, and freedom to operate—all of which they got from the legitimate global political and commercial systems of the world. Terrorists, it turned out, lived, basically, in the same world we did. The U.S. Treasury, helped by new legislation and led by Under Secretary Stuart Levey under both the Bush and first Obama administrations, took the charge in enforcing strict anti-terror measures against corporations and governments that were on the wrong side of the battle. Intelligence agencies, too, started prioritizing tracking bank accounts and wire transfers. American diplomats lobbied foreign governments to join the effort.

But there was another component to this struggle, one that is a lot less well known because it emerged entirely from the civilian, nongovernmental world: Civil lawsuits that take advantage of laws in the U.S., Canada, Israel, and other countries, to seek damages not only from the terrorists themselves, but also from states that sponsor terror (and can be sued under U.S. law), banks that funnel terrorist money (and are therefore aiding and abetting terror), and corporations that do business with terrorist entities.
Civil lawsuits, it turns out, are not just a great way to help victims find justice and compensation for their misery. They are also an enormously powerful tool in fighting terror. Because they are not initiated by any government, they cannot be stopped through ordinary diplomacy or with back-channel deals. The can be initiated spontaneously, unpredictably—effectively turning the tables on the terrorists, who are used to being the unpredictable ones. Once filed, they are in the hands of an independent judge who follows the law, not the political needs of the moment.

And because civil lawsuits have lower thresholds of proof than do criminal proceedings, and it is therefore usually much easier to prove liability than criminality, civil attorneys can very often succeed where prosecutors fail. For this reason, Western intelligence agencies often happily cooperate with civil cases against terrorists, providing crucial evidence for the plaintiffs—for they are doing the work that government cannot.

Implausibly and incredibly, one woman has played the overwhelmingly decisive role in fighting terror through civil litigation. Nitsana Darshan-Leitner is younger than me, has long dark hair and an attractive smile, and six jumpy kids. She is outwardly shy—but perhaps in a Clark Kent sort of way, suddenly flashing a heroic, energetic presence when making her case. In an interview, she often seems like she’s suppressing a chuckle even when discussing the most serious topics, and one ever-so-slightly lazy eye makes her look curiously vulnerable.

Through her nonprofit legal center, Shurat HaDin (“letter of the law” in Hebrew), Nitsana has spent the last decade and a half battling terrorism through civil lawsuits. Representing terror victims from Israel, the United States, Canada, Iran, and elsewhere, she files motions and seizes assets and sends warnings. She has become a menace to terrorists, putting them on their heels, forcing them and their sponsors to spend vast sums on legal fees, to stop using the Western banking industry, to smuggle cash through tunnels instead of using the banks.

In the process she has revolutionized the way the civilized world deals with terrorism. Governments that clearly back terror organizations—like Iran, Syria, North Korea, and the Palestinian Authority—have found their assets frozen, even turned over to victims. Terrorist groups, states that sponsor terror, banks that facilitate terror financing, companies that do business with terrorists—all of these have found themselves diverting attention, resources, and immense energies to dealing with high-profile lawsuits. Major corporations have discovered that they cannot operate with impunity.

The numbers alone tell a big part of the story. In the last decade, Nitsana’s team has won over $1 billion in judgments. These have resulted in the freezing of over $600 million in assets around the world—money that otherwise would be funding terror operations. And over $120 million in actual awards have been transferred into the hands of the victims.

It is worth pausing over that last figure a bit. There are large charitable organizations dedicated to helping victims of terror attacks. They raise money from well-meaning philanthropists and do admirable work. But because they are based on donations, what they can actually give the victims is comparably small. Shurat HaDin, on the other hand, operates on a different order of magnitude, prying much larger amounts out of the hands of the actual perpetrators and their accomplices, and giving them to families who often face lifelong financial challenges as a result of their devastation. Families who have lost the breadwinner in their family can do a lot more with $10 million than with a few well-meant visits from volunteers with baskets, or summer camp for the victims’ children. And they even can regain a modicum of pride, knowing that their oppressors have paid a price.

And so it is not only in the interest of full disclosure that I mention I did some consulting work for Shurat HaDin a few years ago. Seeing the operation of Shurat Hadin up close was a powerful experience for me—one that spoke of the tremendous potential of a single individual to turn the course of an entire battle.

This past December, I caught up with Nitsana in Tel Aviv. Familiar with her successes, I was expecting a conversation that looked back at all the changes. Instead I heard a few things that surprised me—both a hint as to the next stage in the legal fight against terror, and a warning about how everything she has achieved might be slipping through our fingers at this moment.

“When we first started talking about suing terrorists, we had people in the legal community laughing at us. They said, ‘What are you gonna do, wreck their credit rating?’” Nitsana giggles; she has told the story a thousand times, but it still amuses her.

Terrorists always wanted us to think they were insane and otherworldly, vipers and vampires and blood-sniffing vultures, preying on innocent children and devouring their innards like Satan in a medieval painting. They thrive, we are told, in the dark places of the world, deployed by vicious enemies who have no fear of lawyers or judges, and who would eat you alive. You don’t sue them. You launch air strikes and covert ops against them and teach their grandchildren to utter your name in hushed tones.

But Nitsana was the beneficiary of a whole constellation of inspirations and predicates, of people and circumstances that came together in a perfect historical storm to enable her to create something entirely new and mind-bogglingly effective.

First, there was her personal background. Born in Israel to a family of formerly well-to-do Iranian Jews who were forced to leave everything behind as they fled to Israel in the early 1950s, she grew up knowing hardship and lacking any illusions about the Middle East. Her early memories included the horrific terror attacks that plagued the Jewish state in the mid-1970s. In 1974 terrorists stormed an elementary school in Maalot and killed 21 children; they bombed a busy Jerusalem street in 1975, killing 15; the same year, terrorists landed on the beach in Tel Aviv and took over the Savoy Hotel, holding its guests hostage, killing eight. In 1978, they hijacked a bus along the Coastal Road between Tel Aviv and Haifa, murdering 38 Israelis; there was the 1979 seaside attack in Nahariya, when they marched a family to the beach and murdered the children before their father’s eyes.

Terrorism threatened not only the daily serenity of each and every Israeli—in a small country, every attack touches you personally—but also the central premise of Jewish empowerment on which all of Zionism had been predicated: the belief that only through statehood could Jews finally live free from the whims of the wicked and powerful, secure in their own national home. Terror reinforced the Holocaust-era sense of collective victimhood, and centuries of pogroms and persecutions felt they had suddenly found their modern voice.

Then, in law school, in Ramat Gan, in the early 1990s, she met Avi Leitner, an American immigrant who had grown up with his parents’ 1960s civil rights activism and his own involvement in demonstrations on behalf of Soviet Jewry in the 1970s and 1980s. He embodied a spirit of Jewish empowerment, and the belief that victims can themselves turn on their oppressors and bring justice into the world. But he was also an exceptionally funny guy. His dry New York humor together with the pulsating beat of the Ramones would form the implausible soundtrack to their life. They married before she finished her degree.

Avi took Nitsana to visit the United States, where he introduced her to the Southern Poverty Law Center, a famous civil rights group organization that used lawsuits to fight against neo-Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan throughout the 1980s. That trip that would transform her understanding of what lawyers can do in the world, and offer an intriguing possibility for fighting terror in a totally new way.
“Southern Poverty wasn’t just about winning cases,” she tells me in their Ramat Gan office. “It was about using legal action to change reality on the ground. The court rulings didn’t just punish the white supremacists; it drove them out of business,” Nitsana explains, now self-consciously professorial. “It turns out that terrorism and KKK-style racism were actually quite similar. They both operate outside the law, creating injustice in ways that ordinary law enforcement has difficulty addressing. But they also both have to organize, raise money, have offices, a place to meet, and so on. What we learned from Southern Poverty was that you can use lawsuits—or even just the threat of lawsuits—to cripple their activities where law enforcement is either unwilling or unable to do the job. They can make their lives an endless headache, and they stop doing the bad things.”

Southern Poverty drove the KKK bananas, forcing them to repeatedly shut down their branches, making fundraising a nightmare, and eventually driving organized racism in America entirely underground.

But adapting the model to terrorism wouldn’t be easy. Whole national governments across the Middle East were sponsoring groups far more clever, vicious, and well-funded than the KKK. Terrorists lived out there somewhere, in other countries. Could they be really be made to care about anything going on in a courtroom in New York or Tel Aviv?

There was only one way to find out.

Starting in the late 1990s, Nitsana began filing a series of motions on behalf of terror victims, first in Israel, and then with the help of local counsel, in federal courts in the United States. The U.S. offered a whole range of possibilities, in part because of the vast assets that foreign governments and individuals held there, and the size of the awards judges were willing to hand down, but also because of a range of laws that allowed for damages to be sought. The Anti-Terrorism Act of 1990 provided for U.S. citizens to sue terrorists and their abettors for damages. The Alien Torts Claims Act (1789) and the Torture Victim Protection Act (1991) allowed non-Americans to sue anyone in the United States who had victimized them. Under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act of 1978, any country that sponsored terrorism could be sued for attacks carried out by the groups it supported. And later on, after the terror attacks of September 2001, Congress passed a series of new laws, including the Financial Anti-Terrorism Act and the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act, that would make it much easier both to sue those who funded terrorism and to collect the damages.

“We filed dozens of cases in 1999 and 2000. Every one tested a different legal theory, used a different never-been-tried argument. Every one meant depositions and research, going through the awful details. In some cases we had to invent the process too, not just the argument. How do you serve a lawsuit on Hamas? They don’t have an office you can just show up at with a process server. We had to ask an Israeli prison warden to serve papers on a Hamas leader sitting in jail. What about Iran? Do you FedEx a lawsuit to ‘the government’ in Tehran? International couriers didn’t go there. Send a fax to the embassy? Serve Hezbollah in South Lebanon? Nobody had ever tried these things before.

“Once we wanted to personally sue Mohammed Khatami, the former Iranian president, on behalf of Jewish families whose loved ones had been imprisoned and tortured for wanting to escape Iran while he was in office. Under the Torture Victims Protection Act, we could go after his personal assets, but only if we found a way to serve the papers on him while he visited on American soil. We found out he was coming to speak at the UN, but there was no way to get through his rings of security there. So we found out he was speaking at the CAIR [Council on American-Islamic Relations] dinner in Washington. For $800 you could not just go to the dinner but also get a handshake and photo op. So we hired a former detective in Arlington, Virginia and wired him the money. He showed up at the dinner, hands Khatami the papers, smiles, tells him he’s being sued, Khatami smiles, the photographer snaps the picture, then the picture goes up on their website, and voila. Served. It was crazy, but it worked.” Nitsana laughs like a girl at a sleepover.

These were not class-action suits either. Every case was filed individually, representing a separate victim, proving responsibility and damages and liability. Every case involved another tragedy, another horror relived, a wound reopened on the witness stand. But the cases were novel, terrorism still a very distant thing, and few American judges really knew what to do with them.

It took the catastrophe of the September 11, 2001 attacks to change that. Though Nitsana is reluctant to assess the role that 9/11 had on the outcome of her cases, it seems pretty hard to deny. Only then did Americans really recognize the magnitude of the threat of terrorism and the importance of the battle, and no judge could remain unmoved by the cases before them. Judges are human, and we want them that way.

It was in February 2002 that they got their first big breakthrough.

The ruling concerned the case of Ira Weinstein, a 53-year-old father of three from Brooklyn who had been riding the number 18 bus in Jerusalem in February 1996, when a suicide bomber blew himself up and murdered 25 others on the bus. Nitsana’s team had filed suit on his family’s behalf in 2000 in the District of Columbia against the government of Iran, a supporter of the Hamas terrorists that had carried out the attack. Iran had repeatedly refused to recognize the legitimacy of the American courts, failing to show up for hearing after hearing. But in February 2002, a federal judge awarded a default judgment of $183 million against the regime.

This ruling proved to be just the first in a whole string of successes, each one providing precedent and momentum for the next. Just a few months after the Weinstein decision, a judge in Rhode Island gave her and her co-counsel David Strachman, a preliminary ruling on the case of Yaron and Efrat Ungar, a young American couple who had been gunned down in their car when stopped at a traffic light just outside the city of Beit Shemesh in June 1996. The Palestinian Authority had argued that it could not be sued because it had sovereign immunity, as if it were a state. But now, for the first time, the judge rejected their argument, ordering the lawsuit to proceed. Two years later, the same judge would award the Ungar family over $100 million in damages.

Israeli judges began ruling in their favor, as well. In December 2000 they had filed a lawsuit on behalf of the widow of Vadim Nurzhitz, an unarmed Israeli reservist who was infamously dragged from his car and beaten to death in the police station in Ramallah at the beginning of the second Intifada, his body hurled from the building, torn apart by a waiting mob, and dragged through the streets. In 2002, an Israeli judge ruled that there was enough evidence to hold the Palestinian Authority responsible for the lynching, and slapped a pre-emptive lien on $16 million in Palestinian money being held by the Israeli government, an astronomical figure by Israeli legal standards.

Over time, as they catalogued victories and continued to refine their methods, a strategy began to emerge. It had three parts—each of which was grounded in different laws and precedents, and required a different set of tactics, witnesses, evidence, and arguments. The most obvious place to start was to sue the states that sponsored terror. Iran, Syrian, Libya, and North Korea were all placed on the State Department’s formal list of governments that sponsored terror, and therefore could be sued under U.S. law, as long as you could prove that those governments had deliberately supported the groups that carried out a given attack.

More challenging was trying to sue terror organizations themselves, or other non-state bodies with ties to terror, such as the Palestinian Authority. Terror groups do not recognize American courts, and it is extremely difficult to serve papers on a terror group. Even if you win a default judgment, collection is not simple either. But it isn’t impossible. With the help of intelligence agencies, assets can be identified, tracked down in European countries, an American ruling domesticated, and the assets flagged and attached.

Yet the biggest challenge has clearly been fighting against corporations and banks. Suddenly you find yourself facing massive teams of well-heeled lawyers who have long ago mastered the tactics of high-stakes litigation on behalf of wealthy clients who exist only to preserve and build their wealth. Yet here too, there is justice to be found. Just last year, American judges offered preliminary rulings in two crucial Shurat HaDin-related cases—one against the Lebanese-Canadian Bank, the other against the Bank of China—which meant that the cases would move forward, even at the risk of ruffling the feathers of the Chinese government, and against the political desires of the U.S. State Department, the Israeli government, and others.

“We were not the first people ever to bring a terror case to court. But previous cases all got resolved diplomatically, through international deal-making, like with the Pan Am Lockerbie case. We were the first people ever to fight the cases to the end, to force the judges to rule. We established a string of precedents that became the basis for all civil terror litigation today.”

Shurat HaDin sits in a small office in Ramat Gan, across from Tel Aviv and the Arlozoroff train station and next to the Diamond Exchange. Unlike most nonprofit leaders, who focus mainly on fundraising and awareness-raising, Nitsana actually spends the majority of her time on the litigation, strategizing the cases and running a small team of in-house and freelance lawyers, as well as co-counsels around the world who file on behalf of clients. It is tedious work, endless work, and includes research, briefings, court appearances, meeting terror victims interested in finding justice, financial relief, and the sense of empowerment that comes with confronting your attacker and winning.

But for the outside observer, it also seems like a work of constant creative motion, a breathtaking artistic enterprise. I remember the first time they explained to me the concept of domestication—that when a judge rules that somebody owes you money, you can take that ruling to courts in other countries around the world, anywhere that person has assets, and make them pay through the local courts. It’s another thing that’s much easier to do in civil suits than in criminal cases. Nitsana has used that principle, combined with intelligence about the location of Iranian bank accounts, to file cases based on U.S. rulings worth hundreds of millions of dollars in Italy, France, and other European countries. The result was to force Iran to move its assets out of Europe entirely. This is something the U.S. government can’t do, and European governments have shown little desire to do.

There is something ancient and uniquely Jewish about it, too. Using incessant intellectual innovation to improve the fate of humanity, to effect justice, to make the bad guys squirm, to help your people. Of course, the mission is not just to help Israelis and Jews. Shurat HaDin has already exported its model well outside the Middle East, helping victims of the Colombian terror group FARC, and those murdered by the Japanese Red Army. They’ve met and urged Protestant groups in Ireland to sue the IRA. They’ve been involved in lawsuits against Chiquita, against the government of North Korea, and elsewhere. Nitsana lectures for intelligence and law enforcement agencies around the world.

But her principal motivation has always been about helping her own people, her extended Israeli family. When Turkish organizers of the Free Gaza movement organized a flotilla meant to break the Gaza siege and provide material support to the Hamas government there, Shurat HaDin took up the lead in preventing the vessels from setting sail and the group from organizing. “Part of it was that they were aiding and abetting Hamas,” she recalls. “But we also tracked down an American law from the late eighteenth century that makes it a crime to break a lawful maritime siege being carried out by an American ally. We used everything we had and we sank the flotilla.” For Nitsana, a central part of her work is about proving that the Jews really do have a place in the world, and that when people attack them, there will be a price to pay.

The offices have an oddly layered atmosphere, as well. On the most obvious level, it’s intensely busy, as phone calls come in, researchers talk to lawyers, who talk to other lawyers, much busy intense conversation and brainstorming and movement. The d├ęcor is a little weird, however. A big wooden globe with a centuries-old map on it sits unattended, broken—the world is always a little off. A wooden statue of a Native American that looks like it was stolen from a Manhattan cigar shop by drunken frat boys peers at you from a dark corner of her office. An antique wind-up Victrola with a vinyl 78 by the Israeli band Mashina greets you in a conference room. It’s like the creative energy has a powerful undercurrent of humor to it. Because if you can’t laugh, will you cry?

Or maybe her ever-present sense of humor is the only way to handle the tragedy of the details of the terror attacks, the testimony of the victims, the enormity and gravity of it all, without losing one’s mind.
I once had a long conversation with Effi Eitam, the burly, bearded brigadier-general who would later lead Israel’s National Religious Party. In recounting his tour as commander of the Galilee Command during the 1990s, when Israel still occupied a strip of southern Lebanon, he told me how he had faced the challenge of Hezbollah fighters engaged in guerrilla operations against the IDF. I reconstruct his words from memory, though it was long ago.

“Terrorism,” he told me, “is built on chaos. Civilization is orderly, which means that for people to live in peace, there have to be systems of order in place. Law, the military, supply chains, elections, markets—all these are the order that civilization places on life, to make peaceful life possible. Terrorism is built on disrupting those systems. If you can’t trust your elections, your markets, your law enforcement, your daily life, then you lose all the confidence that makes it possible to walk down the street or go shopping without fear.”

As commander of the Galilee division, Eitam developed a string of innovative tactics that put a significant emphasis on building up physical defenses against Hezbollah fighters. “What we did in Lebanon, tactically, was to force the terrorists to raise their own level of orderliness. We found that if we tripled the thickness of a concrete defensive barrier, they would have to bring much more powerful rockets to penetrate it. But more powerful rockets required a much more orderly infrastructure: Training bases, supply, command and control. The bigger our defenses, the more they had to operate like a regular army to beat us. But then we could defeat them like a regular army: By attacking their bases and their supply routes with air strikes. If chaos was the key to their success, then we could defeat them by forcing them to be more orderly.”

This, in essence, is what Nitsana has accomplished, as well, together with the efforts of U.S. Treasury officials and Mossad agents and governments around the world over the last two decades. By forcing terrorists to hire lawyers, accountants, and public relations firms, you have squeezed them into the rubric of civilizational order. You put them on their heels. Instead of aggressively planning their next attack, they started worrying where the next lawsuit or court action would come from.

The moment you recognize that terrorism is not a pathology but a deliberate methodology that counts on chaos to undermine your life, you have already taken the first step to containing, controlling, and defeating it.

The fight has been much more successful than is often understood. While groups like Hezbollah and Al-Qaeda affiliates continue to operate, they have nothing like the freedom they had twenty years ago. Funding them, training them, command and control—all have become much harder than in the past. It’s true that these groups have become more sophisticated under the new conditions. But it’s also true that nothing close to 9/11 has struck American soil in the last decade.

To make it work has required the simultaneous commitment of legislatures, judges, and executive branch officials in different countries. That is why Nitsana is deeply troubled by the deal reached in November in Geneva between the “P5+1”—representatives of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany—and Iran regarding their nuclear weapons program. In her view, the entire battle against global terrorism might be on the brink of a terrible reversal.

“The deal in Geneva is really dangerous. All the signals point to a disaster.” The key problem is the core concept of the emerging deal, in which Western countries agree to relieve the harsh economic sanctions against Iran, in exchange for Iran slowing or suspending its nuclear weapons program. But as Nitsana points out, this leaves the whole question of terrorism off the table.

Everybody is so focused on Iran’s nuclear program that they’re giving them a pass on the fact that they’re the central supporters of global terrorism. The reason Iran was originally blacklisted in 1996 wasn’t because they had a nuclear program, it was because they were the bankers for international terrorism. Even if they stop enriching uranium, they will still be the main supporters of Hamas, Islamic jihad, and Hezbollah, as well as major players in the war crimes going on in Syria. All is forgotten. European companies now are lining up to open offices in Tehran. And all the while, not once have the Iranians said they would stop supporting terrorism.

Are you suggesting that the United States government no longer cares about fighting terrorism?
I’m saying that Geneva points in a very bad direction. We’ve already had reports that for a few months now the Department of Justice has stopped investigating cases where people in the U.S. are plainly violating Iran sanctions.

Americans want to forget about terror. I understand it’s hard to be worried about something for so long. People want to feel good and it’s human nature to try and ignore problems like terrorism. As soon as there’s a little quiet, America goes back into safe mode.

But terror groups are still active, still waiting for the money to come in. If anything, Hezbollah is much better geared up than in the past. They have sleepers everywhere. They’ve spread out. They’ve built up their infrastructure, their surveillance. They have the potential to do way more damage than they did on 9/11. They haven’t been sleeping all these years. They’ve been building and building and building. It doesn’t take very much at this point to set off a bomb. The U.S. and Europe have been lucky. How hard is it to get a dirty bomb into New York or Antwerp?

So what do you think will happen next?

Everybody’s rushing over to Tehran, banks and companies and the oil conglomerates. The stock market in Tehran is shooting up. People think they can’t be caught supporting terrorists. The Bank of China thought the laws didn’t apply to them, but they did. If companies fail to understand that they are aiding and abetting terrorism, legally speaking, then as soon as the terrorism starts again, there will be a whole new wave of lawsuits. Unfortunately, I see that as inevitable.

Finally I ask her about the new kind of terrorism, the “inspired terror” that we saw in the Boston attacks. This is crucial, because it seems that in the past few years groups like al-Qaeda have deliberately circumvented the traditional command-and-control structure by simply inspiring people, through videos distributed online, not just to want to commit attacks but also giving them instruction in bomb-building and fundraising. The Tsarnaev brothers weren’t wired large sums of money or given direct orders to act. They just downloaded it all from the Internet. But if they aren’t using the global financial networks, how can you stop them?

Nitsana smiled cryptically. “We’ve already sent warning letters.”

To whom?

“To Facebook and Twitter. Twitter was giving services to Al-Manar TV, which in the U.S. is listed as an instrumentality of Hezbollah. Social media like Twitter and YouTube, they think they’re in a kind of vacuum because they’re new media. But when you’re providing services to terrorism, according to Holder vs. Humanitarian Law Project, a famous Supreme Court case, it doesn’t matter whether you provide legal advice or banking services, or you’re Facebook and Twitter and you’re providing social media services to these groups, you’re aiding and abetting international terror. You, your company, your shareholders are liable for any injury or damages perpetrated. It’s just a matter of time before a case becomes available, and the social media world will understand. We’re ready.”
If the past is any indicator, I have no doubt they are.