Intern of the Week: Josh

Joshua Picture (1)

Meet Josh, another one of our very special summer interns. Read about his unique experience countering BDS at college and how he strongly believes that convincing others to support Israel is crucial to defeating anti-Israel sentiment among young people. 

What is your name?

Joshua Henderson

Where are you from?

Washington D.C.

How old are you?


What law school are you in?

I finished my undergraduate degree in May at the University of Michigan and I will be applying to law school this autumn with the hope to start law school in 2015. With my year off I will be moving to Israel for 10 months to intern for the Israeli government with a program called Israel Government Fellows.

Why did you go to law school?

I plan on going to law school because I am interested in international law.

Is this your first time in Israel? Please describe something you have learned about Israel that surprises you or that interests you, even if you have already travelled here before.

This was not my first time in Israel but it was the first time I was in Israel during a conflict. Although I was always aware that Israel frequently faced terrorism, it was never something I had directly experienced. This made the rocket fire that I had only witnessed from thousands of miles away on TV an immediate danger, and one to which I was a target.

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

I heard about Shurat HaDin through a family friend who believed it would interest me. After reading about the work that Shurat HaDin does as well as a story about Nitsana in the Tower Magazine, I decided to apply.

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

The legal research skills that I acquired during the internship will benefit me in law school.

What are your future plans and goals?

After spending next year in Israel, I plan to attend law school and then, hopefully, join the Judge Advocate General Corps.

Check out Josh’s original blog post below:

It is 7:58am, I am lying in bed after hitting the snooze button on my alarm and waiting for it to ring again at 8:00am. 7:59am, the sirens in the street go off, simultaneously the Red Alert app on my iPhone starts beeping to warn me that a rocket is heading towards Tel Aviv. I get out of bed and stand at the door to my cousin’s apartment until I hear the Iron Dome interception. BOOM! My alarm starts ringing, it is now 8:00am and I need to get ready to go to work at Shurat HaDin.

In an odd way, it is a fortunate coincidence that my internship overlapped with the latest flare up between Hamas and Israel. The other interns and I soon became fully aware just how indiscriminate Hamas’ rockets are, as well as the terror group’s bloodthirsty intentions. This, in turn, reminds us of the very important work we are doing at Shurat HaDin. Each of us is engaged in at least one of many trials that Shurat HaDin is working on to weaken Israel’s enemies financially as well as compensate the victims of terror. Some of us were engaged in a trial against the Palestinian Authority for its role in the second intifada, while others, myself included, were involved in a case against Bank Of China which was allowing terrorists to transfer large amounts of money to one another, facilitating terrorist activities. Our work in lawfare, using the law to defeat terrorism, is one of many battlefields that Israel and her supporters must fight on. When I came back to America after my internship, however, I saw again how this war is being fought not only in the Middle East and in the courtrooms but on social media as well.

According to the latest opinion polls from Pew, Americans tend to sympathize with Israel over the Palestinians by 51% to 14%, respectively. But within my age group, 18 to 29 year olds, the support changes to 44% to 22% for Israel and Palestinians, respectively. I am surprised the poll did not find it to be worse. When I log on to Facebook, not only do I see expressions of support for Israel, I also see people I know posting virulently anti-Israel messages. It is not uncommon for me to see Israel compared to an Apartheid and/or terrorist state by people who I used to go to school with. Sadly, I think this is a growing sentiment among people in my age group. It is being displayed on college campuses, where it seems from one campus to the next there is an effort to Boycott Divest and Sanction (BDS) Israel every semester.

On my own campus, at the University of Michigan, there was an effort to divest from Israel last semester. Fortunately, the resolution failed to pass by the Student Government. But I expect there will a new effort next year, where the same arguments will be repeated and emotional rhetoric will be used to mischaracterize the situation. I believe this will remain a fact of student life at many universities. BDS activists will come to campus repeatedly until they get what they want. And while supporters of Israel may be winning the argument, this battle will not be won or lost by winning the argument but by also convincing others that supporting Israel is the right thing to do.

Dr. Leonard Hammer speaks at San Diego Jewish Community Center

Dr. Leonard Hammer, Shurat HaDin’s academic director, spoke on Thursday (April 25, 2013), at San Diego’s Jewish Community Center. The lecture focused on the different approaches taken by Shurat HaDin against terrorist funding around the world. The talk, titled “Lawfare and Israel,” was sponsored by the Arthur and Sophie Brody Distinguished Israeli Speakers Lecture Series, a program run by Training and Education About the Middle East (TEAM).

Hammer has been lecturing in Israel for over 15 years, principally at the Rothberg School in Hebrew University. He is an International Scholar for the Open Society Foundation, working mainly in the Caucuses. His main fields of expertise are international law and international human rights.

Akiva (Andrew) Hamilton briefs visiting Scottish lawyers in Tel Aviv

On Sunday (April 14, 2013) Attorney Akiva (Andrew) Hamilton met with a group of Scottish lawyers visiting the Israeli coastal city of Tel Aviv. Hamilton (on far left) briefed the lawyers on Shurat HaDin and its work in getting compensation for terror victims, suing terror supporting countries and organizations.

Nitsana Darshan-Leitner speaks to attorneys and diplomats at Canada’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Shurat HaDin’s director Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, Esq. speaks to attorneys and diplomats at Canada’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Ottawa. Darshan-Leitner discussed how courts can be used to fight terrorism.

Arrivals: Articulate advocate

A father, businessman, lawyer, Akiva Hamilton is as devoted to his children as he is to defending Israel.

In the battle to present Israel’s case to the world, it’s good to have someone as articulate and passionate as Akiva Hamilton, a lawyer who works for Shurat HaDin, the Israel Law Center.

Back in his native Australia, before he made aliya in 2008, he was already active in pro-Israel advocacy, making important connections in the federal parliament in Canberra through the Australian Israel Jewish Affairs Council.

But it could easily not have happened at all. Akiva was born Andrew, a Catholic, and only converted to Judaism shortly before marrying his first wife, who was Jewish.

“I went to a posh private school in Sydney and until the age of 14 I was a practicing Catholic,” he says. “Through debating I met a lot of Jewish people, and later had many Jewish friends at university. I was an intellectual type and Jews tended to be the same.”

His long spiritual search led him to Orthodox Judaism, and within 10 months he had completed his conversion. His family were very understanding.

“My parents are happy for me that I’ve found something meaningful in my life and my mother has learned to cook kosher for when I visit,” he says.

He admits that it was hard at the beginning – not so much the keeping kosher, but the complete break from normal daily activity required for Shabbat.

“It was weird not to have TV or email or a phone,” he says. “But then you begin to appreciate the intellectual, spiritual and emotional space it creates in your life.

Today, without Shabbat, I think I’d go mad.”

He first came to Israel in 2008 and stayed for a year. He says the main reason for his divorce was that he wanted to stay here and his wife wanted to go back to Australia with their two children. Today he travels back and forth to see them and usually combines his visits with talking about his work for Shurat HaDin.

Continue reading article on Jerusalem Post

Nitsana Darshan-Leitner speaks at Aish conference in Mexico City

Shurat HaDin’s director Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, Esq. spoke on Tuesday to 300 people at Mexico City’s Aish Center. At this conference, Darshan-Leitner discussed some of Shurat HaDin’s current cases against terrorism. Attorney Darshan-Leitner is on a visit to Mexico this week in order to explore the possibility of leading fights on behalf of victims of drug cartels, civil rights violations, and terrorism.

Terrorist victim’s father writes book, speaks out (The Plain Dealer)

Just weeks after a billion-dollar lawsuit was filed in a New York state court against the Bank of China, one of the litigants arrived in Cleveland and talked about how the suit is an attempt to stop terror.

Naftali Moses, the father of Avraham David, a high school student who died at the Mercaz Harav Jerusalem terror attack in 2008, said Sunday during a break in his book tour that the suit is “obviously not to get rich” but rather to attempt to cut off funds to terrorist organizations.

The attacks drew global attention and, at the time, the radical Islamic Hamas movement praised the deed but did not claim it. Later, the group claimed responsibility, according to Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, director of Shurat HaDin – Israel Law Center.

Darshan-Leitner represents the five families who filed the suit, Rot v. Bank of China. The suit seeks compensatory and punitive damages for the victims.

“The banking giant knowingly assisted the Islamic group to carry out this Jerusalem attack with the full approval of the Chinese government,” Darshan-Leitner said in a prepared statement.

“The only way to block this tunnel (of money flow) is actually to sue the bank,” she said. The idea, she added, is to make the banks “very reluctant to keep providing financial services to terrorist organizations.”

Continue reading on The Plain Dealer – a daily paper in Ohio.

Akiva (Andrew) Hamilton speaks at Jewish community center in Sydney

On October 11, 2012, Shurat HaDin’s Akiva (Andrew) Hamilton Esq. spoke at a Jewish community center in Sydney, Australia. His public lecture, titled “Bankrupting Terrorism, one Lawsuit at a Time,” was attended by numerous interested members of the community. The event was hosted by the NSW State Zionist Council.

Israeli group threaten legal action against Australian charity (Jewish Chronicle – UK)

An Israeli-based group is threatening legal action against an Australian charity unless it immediately stops funding a Palestinian not-for-profit organisation that is alleged to be “an active arm” of a terror group proscribed under Australian law.

Shurat HaDin — the Israel Law Centre, which aims to “bankrupt terrorism” through the courts — alleges that World Vision Australia has been indirectly distributing more than $1 million of Australian taxpayers’ money to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

World Vision Australia, which distributes funds in Gaza for AusAID, the government’s foreign aid agency, denies the charges. An AusAID spokesperson said this week that an investigation it conducted in May concluded there was “no evidence to support Shurat HaDin’s allegations”.

Continue reading