Intern of the Week: Antonio

Antionio photo

At Shurat HaDin we like to keep in touch with our prior interns and feel proud of their accomplishments. Antonio was an intern at Shurat HaDin during the summer of 2013. Keep reading to find out more about this insightful individual.

What is your name?

Antonio L. Ingram II

Where are you from?

Los Angeles, CA

How old are you?

25

What law school did you attend?

I graduated from Berkeley Law in May of 2014. In the fall I will begin an associate position at the San Francisco office of Morrison and Forester as a litigation associate.

Why did you go to law school?

I attended law school for multiple reasons. On the one hand I love the pragmatic nature of the law. Law literally affects everything in our world and studying law and how it interacts with citizens and nations is really fascinating to me. Furthermore, the law is a tool through which one can actively trigger change in communities. The law can be used to heal and destroy. Punish and reward. I attended law school in order to become actively implicated in a system so that I can influence how it is deployed.

Please describe something you learned about Israel during your internship that surprises you or that interests you.

I was surprised by the hospitality that I encountered in Israel. I have been to countries in Europe, Latin America and Asia and never have I found a nation that was full of such welcoming people. When I was lost during my first day in Tel-Aviv trying to find my apartment a stranger helped me contact my roommate and carried my bags for me down the street and up four flights of stairs. I can’t imagine this ever happening in the United States. Furthermore, there were multiple instances of individuals paying for my meals at restaurants or shopkeepers giving me free items of food. The mainstream media acts like Israel is this country full of individuals who are callous and angry and do not care about anyone besides their own selves. However, as an African American traveler I will say that I experienced way less racism in Israel than in other more “progressive” western countries, including the United States.

How did you hear about Shurat HaDin, and what inspired you to apply to the internship program?

I heard about the Internship program through an online listing at the Berkeley Law employment page. As a Charismatic Christian who studied religious studies at Yale as an undergraduate student I have always wanted to visit Israel. I wanted to visit a country where religions were birthed that has impacted the globe in incredible ways. Furthermore, I am committed to using my legal education to advocate for those who are disadvantaged in order to help their grievances become redressed. The mission of the Israel Law Center is a perfect organization to do just that.

What are some of the takeaways from the internship program that you will apply to your studies and future career?

In order to bring a civil suit against terrorist organizations such as Hamas it takes very creative lawyering. In order to prove liability for these organizations one has to truly use the law as a dynamic tool and not merely a rulebook that is methodically applied. Through my internship at the Israel Law Center I learned what it means to advocate for a client through thinking like a lawyer. It means using critical thinking skills, the facts and your client’s desires in order to fight for a favorable outcome, even if the law is still developing. As I am embarking on my legal journey as a young lawyer I know that the intellectual skills that I developed and witnessed through working at the Israel Law Center will help me as I advocate for my future clients.

What are your future plans and goals?

I am going to be joining the litigation practice group at Morrison and Forester in their San Francisco office. In the long term I would like to get involved with international law and helping clients reach favorable outcomes whether it be in the courtroom or the boardroom. 

Hamas’ money woes continue

exploding money

By now, everyone has realized that the only way to defeat terrorists is to hit them where it hurts – their wallets.

The combination of Shurat HaDin’s legal work against Hamas’ founders, together with the change of leadership in Egypt, and the blocking of the Sinai tunnels led to Hamas’ economic crisis in Gaza immediately preceding Operation Protective Edge. As we demonstrated here, the way to bring down Hamas and every terrorist regime is through their pocket. Nahum Barnea, one of Israel’s most influential journalist, wrote a special feature on Hamas’ tense financial situation in YNet Magazine Weekend Edition: 

On one of the last days of Operation Protective Edge, the IAF hit a courier for Hamas money. The images showed banknotes flying away from the site of the explosion. More money couriers were killed in a similar way. It turns out that during the fighting, Hamas managed to smuggle large amounts of cash into Gaza, and according to one estimate, tens of millions of dollars. It is reasonable to assume that the money was smuggled from Sinai, through one of the tunnels that had not been found by the Egyptian army.

Lack of money was the primary hardship that dragged Hamas into the war: All of its channels used to bring in money outside were closed, including the tunnels. Hamas government employees, both armed and unarmed, had not received salaries since February. Israel and Mahmoud Abbas, who wanted to weaken the Hamas government, had been too successful.

And now, at the height of the war, the money had arrived. But now there was no way of paying the people and putting the money to work, to move around.

Thus money also played a major factor in the transition from fighting to lull. The ATMs were on strike in Gaza. The money had dried up. Out of desperation, people had begun bartering items for food. The pressure grew on the local Hamas commanders, and they in turn increased the pressure on Khaled Mashal to accept the terms of the ceasefire. It was not money alone that led to war, and it was not money alone that stopped it. But it played a significant role in each stage of the conflict. (Mussaf Shabbat, Yedioth Aharanot, August 29, 2014)

 —

We will keep fighting the terror bodies and its founders everywhere, all the time, case after case.

Shurat HaDin – fighting and bankrupting terror, doing justice.

Intern of the Week: Michelle S.

Michelle Stillwell photo

Michelle was the first of our interns to leave Israel because of the rocket attacks – her university requested that she return. Despite her shorter stay, her internship at Shurat HaDin clearly made an impact on Michelle and our entire office.

What is your name?

Michelle Stilwell           

Where are you from?

Colorado, USA

How old are you?

23

What law school are you in?

Pepperdine School of Law in Malibu, CA

Why did you go to law school?

Interest in Law in Human Rights or International Law.

Is this your first time in Israel? Please describe something you have learned about Israel that surprises you or that interests you.

Yes, this is my first time in Israel.  I was most surprised by the immense pride the people here have in their country.  Jews are so proud to be citizens of Israel.  It’s incredible and inspiring.  In America, it’s such a different culture people are more proud of their diversity, but, here, Israelis are united by the unique culture they share.

How did you hear about Shurat HaDin, and what inspired you to apply to the internship program?

My school found Shurat HaDin for me, because it was an organization that combined human rights violations, terrorism and the current conflict in Israel, all three of which interest me greatly and took on these important issues in such a unique way – through civil litigation as opposed to criminal prosecution.

What are some of the takeaways from the internship program that you will apply to your studies and future career?

The tours and the lectures were very informative.  It was interesting seeing the history and politics of Israel from a different viewpoint.  Israel is so disfavored in the international community that it was refreshing to hear about Israel from people who are proud of Israel and have fought for its independence.

What are your future plans and goals?

I’m hoping to be a criminal prosecutor for human rights violations on an international scale.  I’d like to work for the Department of Justice or the National Security Agency in the US.

 

Check out Michelle’s original blog post, where she reviews and compares two important perspective on the life of a Jew during the Holocaust:

In comparing two literary classics, Corrie ten Boom’s The Hiding Place and Anne Frank’s The Diary of a Young Girl, both detail similar experiences but are from drastically different perspectives.  The Hiding Place provides a more detailed and accurate picture of German-occupied Holland during World War II through the eyes of one of the leaders of the underground Jewish Resistance Movement. On the other hand, Anne Frank’s Diary, shows a small picture of what Holland was like during the end of WWII from the eyes of a 13-year old girl hidden away in a tiny apartment for two years. While Anne Frank’s Diary gained much more prominence and sold many more books than The Hiding Place, the latter should have gained more recognition due to the level of detail and sophistication, because it was able to provide a more complete picture of the horrific events occurring during this time.

The Holocaust was arguably one of the most brutal and horrific events in the history of mankind.  This genocide, which occurred throughout Europe from 1941 to 1945, resulted in the deaths of over 11 million people, 6 million of which were Jews.  There have been many works of literature written about these events, but very few books have received as much notoriety as The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank, or Anne Frank’s Diary for short.

Anne Frank’s Diary is a non-fiction book written by a 13-year old Jewish girl, who along with her family, was forced into hiding for two years. Anne received this diary as a present for her 13th birthday and she had no idea at the time that it would turn into a classic novel read and beloved for generations to come. She writes about having to move into a tiny apartment hidden above her father’s office building called the Secret Annex. She is hidden away with her sister, mother, father, and one other family with a boy about her age. 

This book is more about a teenager coming to terms with her own adolescence and getting to know herself, than it is about the political situation in war-torn Europe. In her diary, she relays the struggles of living with her sister, how much her mother misunderstands her, her growing attraction to the boy living with them, the ever-increasing tensions between her parents and the boy’s parents, and her dislike of being forced to room with Mr. Dussel, an elderly dentist. In short, although Anne Frank’s Diary is a wonderful read and gives unique insight into one Jewish girl’s life during this time, as readers we gain more insight into this poor girl’s life than we do about the Holocaust during this time. The book is powerful and the reader sympathizes with Anne, whose is killed shortly after the book ends; the location of the Secret Annex is discovered and everyone is sent to concentration camps, where they all die except for her father who goes on to publish her diary.

Alternatively, if a reader is trying to find a more complete picture of German-occupied Europe during this time in history, Corrie ten Boom’s The Hiding Place paints a beautiful, tragic and incredibly detailed picture. The Hiding Place is another non-fiction written by a Jew in hiding. Corrie and her sister begin an underground Resistance Movement for Jews in German-occupied Holland. Together, they procure fake identification papers, which identified them as Dutch with no Jewish affiliation. Finding safety under this guise, Corrie and her family beginning smuggling fleeing Jews into her home where she would hide them in a secret room upstairs. These Jews would hide in this tiny room for hours, days or weeks. During this time she would smuggle them food using ration cards, which were obtained through the help of many Jewish sympathizers and collaborators. She would then provide these Jewish refugees with new identification cards hiding their Jewish heritage so that they could leave Holland safely. Corrie and her family saved the lives of countless Jews during WWII. In the end, a Dutchmen pretending to need her help but working for the Germans, turned her and her family in.  She was sent to a concentration camp and only by a miracle did she happen to make it out alive, while her sister and family perished. 

Throughout the entire book, Corrie shows the political climate, the joys and the struggles of not just one family but of an entire race of people fleeing persecution. This book is an incredible tale of endurance, courage and the triumph over evil. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in reading a detailed account of the horrific events that occurred during WWII.

 

 

Help Shurat Hadin put terrorist Saleh al-Arouri behind bars

alaruri

Shurat HaDin needs your help to bring vicious child murderers to justice.

Demand the extradition of the man responsible for the murder of three Israeli boys Nafatli Fraenkel, Gil-Ad Shaer and Eyal Yifrah in June.

Your voice is powerful and needs to be heard.

As we reported last week, Hamas military commander Saleh al-Arouri, currently exiled in Turkey for decades of terror acts, proudly admitted his responsibility for planning the heinous kidnapping and murder of the three teens.

We call upon US Attorney General Eric Holder to demand al-Arouri’s extradition from Turkey to the United States. Under the US and Turkey’s extradition treaty, Turkey is obligated to fulfill the Attorney General’s extradition request.

As an American citizen, Naftali Frenkel has the right to see this killer brought to justice.

The United States has a clear moral obligation to demand al-Arouri’s extradition.

We invite you to join us and send the text of the attached email attached to the Attorney General. 

Please copy the contents of the below email, sign your name below, and send to Criminal.Division@usdoj.gov

Dear Honorable Eric Holder,

We write to request that the Department of Justice will undertake all actions to demand that the government of Turkey extradite Palestinian terrorist leader Saleh al-Arouri. Al-Arouri is responsible for the conspiracy to kidnap and murder 16 year-old American citizen Naftali Frenkel, along with two other Israeli teenagers, Eyal Yifrah and Gilad Sha’ar, on June 12, 2014 in Israel.

After being abducted by their Hamas kidnappers, the teenagers were shot numerous times at close range with a silenced pistol and their bodies buried in a desolate field.

There is compelling evidence that al-Arouri, who currently resides in Turkey, initiated the Hamas terrorist operation to kidnap and brutally murder Frenkel and the other two teenage boys.

In addition al-Arouri himself boldly boasted responsibility for the murders of Frenkel, Yifrah and Sha’ar on behalf of Hamas at an Islamic conference in Turkey.

As Turkey maintains an extradition agreement with the United States, it is obligated to grant the extradition request of criminal suspects located in its territorial jurisdiction.

Moreover, it is incumbent upon the United States to investigate and prosecute al-Arouri for the murder of Naftali Frenkel.

Sincerely,

[Your name]

Please send this email and share this letter with your community. Your voice, along with broad public pressure, will make it more likely that the terrorist Saleh al-Arouri will end up back where he belongs – behind bars. 

If the PA joins ICC, Shurat HaDin will meet them there with a tsunami

tsunami

As a non-political organization, Shurat HaDin can and will lodge a tsunami of criminal complaints against senior Palestinian officials if they choose to join the ICC.

In 2013, Shurat HaDin announced a legal campaign, “doing terror to terror,” to deter the Palestinians from filing complaints against Israelis in the International Criminal Court (ICC), based in The Hague.

This did not deter the self-annihilating terror organization Hamas, who yesterday signed a proposal for the Palestinian Arabs to apply to join the International Criminal Court at which legal action could be taken against Israel.

The Hague’s authority, however, is a two-way street. From the moment the PA becomes a member, it opens itself to similar war crimes claims. Its leaders are likely to find themselves responsible for crimes against humanity and genocide.

Sending terrorists to commit suicide bombings; launching tens of thousands of missiles and rockets against civilian communities; inciting and directing its own population and security forces to kill innocent civilians, as these efforts have become increasingly systematic to the point of being a long-standing official policy against another civilian population – these are all crimes against humanity. There is already such a precedent, after a New York federal court in 2007 ruled that intifada-related crimes were crimes against humanity, and that Israeli victims of terror had the right to pursue legal action against those who aid and abet terrorism.

Shurat HaDin is prepared to indict Palestinian officials for perpetrating attacks against Israelis. We will activate these complaints if the Palestinians ultimately join the ICC.

We are collecting testimonies from any Israeli who was a victim of terrorism and are asking that these testimonies be emailed to us at info@israellawcenter.org and posted to our Facebook page as evidence that can be used in counter-suits against leaders of the Palestinian Authority for their role in the perpetration of war crimes.

Read the full article here.

 

 

How ordinary citizens can counter anti-Semitism and Islamic militants

The summer of 2014 has left many people feeling frustrated, outraged, scared, and helpless.

Daily, ordinary citizens are witnessing a dramatic spike in Anti-Semitism while simultaneously being bombarded with gruesome images and acts of Islamic militants. Global jihadists’ social media’s strategies are aimed at terrorizing opponents at home and winning recruits abroad. But there are increasing signs of pushback — both from companies swiftly censoring objectionable content and users determined not to let it go viral.

Stephen Ryde, a self-described “ordinary middle-aged Londoner,” has detailed his recent experiences of anti-Semitism in Britain and Ireland. His letter quickly went viral as people across the world shared it in outrage.

letter

Ryde has a long history of writing to MPs, leaders and newspapers when he is concerned about a problem.  “When I feel like something is wrong, I would usually write to that organisation or person to complain,” … “I write because I think it’s important. I’m not a prolific writer, but I write when I feel moved to.”

According to Ryde, the response to his letter has mostly been kind and supportive.

Check out the effects of contacting the responsible parties mentioned in Ryde’s letter: 

“In a student hall in Manchester a friend’s son is asked to leave as the specially prepared food he chose to eat is not permitted because it carries a label written in a language used by a country that is ‘banned’ by the student union.”

Ryde told BuzzFeed that his friend’s son, a student at Manchester University, was in the student union (UMSU) eating kosher food. According to the student, after someone reported this he was told he was “not allowed to bring Israeli products” on site because of a boycott of Israeli products. When the student tried to explain that the food he was eating was bought in Manchester city centre and was Jewish, not Israeli, he was asked to leave.

A University of Manchester Students’ Union Spokesperson told BuzzFeed: “The University of Manchester Students’ Union have never received a complaint through our complaints procedure of such matter and would rigorously investigate any such claim that this incident occurred within the Students’ Union. We have a welcoming and inclusive environment for all University of Manchester students. There is no policy or boycott in place to ban Israeli sourced produce and we would not discriminate on these grounds.”

“In theatres in Edinburgh and London I am told to denounce my opinions or lose the right to perform.”

In Edinburgh earlier this month, during the Fringe Festival, a hip-hop opera called The City run by an Israeli theatre company was cancelled after only one performance when pro-Palestine groups protested the event.

In London, as BuzzFeed reported earlier this month, “the Tricycle Theatre refused to allow the UK Jewish Film Festival, which had been held at the venue for eight years, to take place there again unless the organisers returned £1,400-worth of sponsorship from the Israeli embassy. The theatre said the organisers should not take money ‘from any party to the current conflict’ in Gaza so the Tricycle could remain politically neutral, and offered to provide the lost sponsorship itself.”

The Tricycle Theatre has since lifted its ban on Jewish Film Festival.

 “A sportsman in Ireland tweets if he sees my kind he’ll punch us in the face and recommends others follow suit.”

Footballer Tommy McGuigan tweeted: “If you are lucky enough to know or work with a Jew, punch him right in the nose tomorrow.”

He has since deleted the tweet and his account.

“Social media is rife with vitriol towards me (even from so-called friends). And in Bradford I’m told that I am not even permitted to enter the city.”

Ryde has reported anti-Semitic pages, groups, and tweets, and that friends of his have sometimes reported abuse directed at them to the police.

In Bradford, the MP George Galloway was filmed declaring Bradford an “Israel-free zone” in front of a Palestinian flag.

Local police have since launched an investigation into his comments.

The bottom line is that public authorities, institutions, and media companies have social responsibility in investigating incidents and removing offensive material, and everybody has the right to notify them.

James Lewis, a senior fellow at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies and director of its strategic technologies program, said companies have been taking down offensive imagery:

“Taking this stuff down off the social networks is important,” he said. “You shouldn’t suppress the facts, but you can suppress the image. That’s just pornography.”

Phillip Smyth, a University of Maryland researcher who tracks the social media activity of jihadists, has noted a modest but noteworthy rise in the speed with which rogue accounts are being removed from Twitter and terror-supporting pages are being pulled from Facebook.

The importance of blocking terrorists from abusing social media for recruitment purposes cannot be overstated. The statistics and facts are startling. Here are just a few:

  1. 1-in-800 young British Sunni men are fighting in Syria/Iraq 
  2. Today, the Austrian government has detained nine people with alleged plans to join rebels in Syria.
  3. The first “all-American” suicide bomber self-detonated in Syria. 

These examples are a few of the latest in a string of international jihadists — Britons, Australians, Chechens, Chinese and Indonesians — to appear in propaganda for Islamic terror groups.

Shurat HaDin calls on everyone to join in the fight against terror – if you see something, say something. There is always someone to report to, and usually someone that can be held responsible for perpetuating this offensive and often illegal activity.

Getting UNRWA out of Gaza II: Reroute UNWRA funds to the PA?

billboard

UNRWA seeks donations by placing billboard in Times Square for Palestinians in Syria and Gaza

Last week Dr. Yishai Ashlag wrote about the advantages of Israel spearheading the rebuilding of Gaza’s economy. Middle East analysts Alexander Joffe and Asaf Romirowsky have proposed another alternative: transfer UNRWA’s responsibilities to the Palestinian Authority to politically strengthen the PA. 

Both analyses agree that UNRWA should have no role in any negotiated arrangement regarding Gaza’s reconstruction, estimated to cost $6 billion dollars: Gaza cannot be rebuilt at western expense only to return to this perverse status quo.

To recap, UNRWA is a completely Palestinian organization for decades, and effectively a branch of Hamas:

  1. Rockets were found in UNRWA schools on three occasions, and at least once they were returned to Hamas.
  2. UNRWA accused Israel of targeting civilians sheltering in a school when in fact those deaths were caused by a Hamas rocket that fell short.
  3. UNRWA accused Israel of targeting a shelter and civilians when in reality terrorists outside the facility were hit and civilian bodies are believed to have been planted at the scene.
  4. The overwhelming majority of UNRWA’S Gaza employees belong to the Hamas-linked trade union. An unknown number of employees are actual Hamas fighters (or at least know UNRWA employees with keys to the schools so that rockets can be stored in classrooms over the summer).
  5. The curriculum taught in UNRWA schools is shaped by Hamas, which earlier this year rejected textbooks that failed to tout “armed resistance” as too “peaceful.”
  6. UNRWA has condemned the rockets found in its schools, but it has not condemned Hamas’ firing of rockets from in and around its facilities, or any other locations such as residential areas, hospital parking lots, and hotels.
  7. Booby-trapped explosives were built into the UNRWA facility and detonated, killing three Israeli soldiers.

All these have now been documented, often reluctantly, by journalists who have left Gaza, who have also made it clear that they were subject to Hamas surveillance, harassment and intimidation. Instead, UNRWA and its spokesman Chris Gunness have tweeted accusations, voiced hollow defenses, and cried on television.

Here is where the analyses diverge: Joffe and Romirowsky believe that the key to dismantling UNRWA and building good governance in Gaza is transferring the defunct organization’s responsibilities to the PA: UNRWA’s employees should be made PA employees and international funds redirected to support its programs.

The authors admit that this recommendation has its flaws, because the PA is monumentally corrupt:

“There must be the expectation that Western funds and supplies will go missing, only to end up in the bank accounts and businesses of PA leaders and their families. But if at long last international donors become serious about cracking down on PA corruption, and Gazans demanded accountability from their government, there is at least the chance for good governance to emerge.”

“…in Gaza allegiances are based in the first place on who pays the bills. Better this be the PA with Western help than Hamas with Qatari help. Adding UNRWA’s 13,000 employees in Gaza to the PA’s roster would be a boost.”

Readers, what do you think? Is this an example of naïveté on the part of Western commentators, who seemingly ignore the fact that Arab leaders distrust Mahmoud Abbas, the head of the PA, and deny him adequate financial support? Or should the PA truly be considered a viable alternative to UNRWA and Israel?

Read the full article at the New Republic here.

Intern of the Week: Melanie S

DSC_0816

What is your name?

Melanie

Where are you from?

Toronto, Canada

How old are you?

23

What law school are you in?

I attend Queen’s University Faculty of Law.

Why did you go to law school?

I went to law school because I wanted to immerse myself in a discipline that uses strong analytical skills and critical thinking; that is challenging; and interesting. Law school satisfies those criteria.

Is this your first time in Israel? Please describe something you have learned about Israel that surprises you or that interests you.

I have been to Israel before, to visit family. What interests me about Israel is the diversity and accessibility of its physical geography. It is possible to go, in one day, to the lush greenery of the north to the desert in the south. It seems that every neighborhood has its own unique geography that gives it character.

How did you hear about Shurat HaDin, and what inspired you to apply to the internship program?

I heard about Shurat HaDin from a friend who had interned at the organization years ago. I chose to apply because the internship enabled me to meet several of my summer goals: to gain legal experience, to volunteer, and to travel to Israel. Shurat HaDin’s mission greatly appealed to me and my sense of justice, and was a significant motivating factor for choosing to apply to the program’s organization.

What are some of the takeaways from the internship program that you will apply to your studies and future career?

I have gained many skills from this internship program that I will apply to my studies and future career. For my academic career, I will apply the in-depth knowledge I have gained about international law to my relevant courses. For my professional career, I will apply my legal research and writing skills, which I have been able to practice and improve during my internship. I will also apply creative legal thinking – an invaluable skill that has been honed during my internship at Shurat HaDin, and a skill that is not easily taught in law school.

What are your future plans and goals?

After law school, I plan on working in a law firm in Toronto. I am not yet sure in which area of law I would like to practice, but Shurat HaDin has peaked my interest in international law.

Check out Melanie’s blog post below:

My perspective about Israel and conflict within Israel has changed during my internship at Shurat HaDin. I was exposed to lectures from lawyers, academics, government officials, judges, locals, terror victims, and other individuals in Israel; I watched court sessions and trials; and I experienced Israel first hand during my two and a half months in the country.

Something that I struck me immediately was the extent to which people in Israel care about their country. Everyone with whom I spoke was passionate about Israel, regardless of their political position or affiliation. When Shurat HaDin took us interns on a field trip to the north of the country, we visited a kibbutz. One of the members of the kibbutz gave us a passionate speech about his connection to the land – literally, to the agricultural basis on which the kibbutz depends, but also to the more abstract land of Israel. He described his experiences defending the kibbutz from various attacks from Lebanon and Syria communities, which were a mere stone’s throw away from the kibbutz and easily visible from where we were standing. He didn’t express his views on various Israeli political leaders, but vehemently defended his right to live on Israeli land. I found that many Israelis expressed similar feelings of connection to Israel.

Something else that struck me was the extent to which judicial and law enforcement officials care about Israel, and about enforcing its laws properly and fairly. When Shurat HaDin took the interns to a military courthouse, we listened to a lecture by Lieutenant Menachem Lieberman, President of the Ofer Military Court. He described to us the extent to which the court strives to achieve justice. For example, military judges are guaranteed judicial independence – the judges are not subject to any authority but the law. He said that he personally never felt external pressure to reach a certain verdict. After the lecture, we watched part of a military hearing for four Palestinians. The Palestinians had legal representation, and from the enthusiastic contribution from both sides, it was clear that both sides’ lawyers, too, were passionate about the Israeli legal system.

That same day we went to listen to General Shaul Gordon, who is the chief legal advisor to the Israeli police, and who once served as a judge in the military courthouses. He spoke to us about administrative detention. He explained to us that the process is designed to ensure fairness to the individual brought in for detention. For example, the individuals must, by law, be brought in for judicial review in a military courthouse within 96 hours of their detention. Afterwards, they have the right to appeal their verdict. General Gordon explained to us that he made a highly unpopular decision to require the police and judges to personally review each of the individual’s files (which can be hundreds of pages) so as to not make any mistakes or injustices, even though this put a great strain on the police’s resources. It is clear to me that General Gordon takes his job seriously and works hard to promote a just system in Israel. The three experiences I mentioned are just some of many encounters I had that demonstrate the passion of Israelis about their own country. This passion, in my opinion, is highly positive in that it encourages the flow of ideas and furthers the goal of democracy.

 

 

How the UN and UNRWA played into the hands of Hamas and became complicit in war crimes

gaza_empty_spaces

Alan Dershowitz, the famous American civil rights lawyer, Harvard Law professor, jurist, author, and political commentator, has penned an article at the Jewish World Review focusing on how questions the United Nations and the international community must try their hardest to become part of the solution in Gaza, rather than part of the problem. He asks the reader a number of thought provoking questions:

  1. How many times have you heard on television or read in the media that the Gaza Strip is “the most densely populated area in the world”?

Repeating this statement, however, does not make it true. There are dense parts of Gaza, especially Gaza City, Beit Hanoun and Khan Younis, but there are far less dense areas in Gaza between these cities. Just look at this population density map.

  1. Why doesn’t the media show the relatively open areas of the Gaza Strip? Why does the media only show the densely populated cities?

Several possible reasons – no fighting going on in the sparsely populated areas, so showing them would be boring. But that’s precisely the point—to show areas from which Hamas could be firing rockets and building tunnels but has chosen not to. Or perhaps the reason the media doesn’t show these areas is that Hamas won’t let them. That too would be a story worth reporting.

  1. Why doesn’t Hamas use sparsely populated areas from which to launch its rockets and build its tunnels?

If it did, Palestinian civilian casualties would decrease dramatically, but the casualty rate among Hamas terrorists would increase dramatically. Hamas uses its civilians to protect its terrorists. Hamas builds shelters only for its terrorists, intending that most of the casualties be among its civilian shields. That is precisely why Hamas selects the most densely populated areas from which to fire and dig.

The law is clear: using civilians as human shields—which the Hamas battle manual mandates—is an absolute war crime. There are no exceptions or matters of degree, especially when there are alternatives. On the other hand, shooting at legitimate military targets, such as rockets and terror tunnels is permitted, unless the number of anticipated civilian casualties is disproportionate to the military importance of the target. This is a matter of degree and judgment, often difficult to calculate in the fog of war.

The law is also clear that when a criminal takes a hostage and uses that hostage as a shield from behind whom to fire at civilians or police, and if the police fire back and kill the hostage, it is the criminal and not the policeman who is guilty of murder. So too with Hamas: when it uses human shields and the Israeli military fires back and kills some of the shields, it is Hamas who is responsible for their deaths.

  1. Why does the United Nations try to shelter Palestinian civilians right in the middle of the areas from which Hamas is firing?

Hamas has decided not to use the less densely populated areas for rocket firing and tunnel digging. For that reason, the United Nations should use these sparsely populated areas as places of refuge. Since the Gaza Strip is relatively small, it would not be difficult to move civilians to these safer areas. They should declare these areas battle free and build temporary shelters—tents if necessary—as places of asylum for the residents of the crowded cities. It should prevent any Hamas fighters, any rockets and any tunnel builders from entering into these sanctuaries. In that way, Hamas would be denied the use of human shields and Israel would have no reason to fire its weapons anywhere near these United Nations sanctuaries. The net result would be a considerable saving of lives.

But instead the UN is playing right into the hands of Hamas, by sheltering civilians right next to Hamas fighters, Hamas weapons and Hamas tunnels. Then the United Nations and the international community accuses Israel of doing precisely what Hamas intended Israel to do: namely fire at its terrorists and kill United Nations protected civilians in the process. It’s a cynical game being played by Hamas, but it wouldn’t succeed without the complicity of UN agencies.

Read the rest of the article here.