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6th Annual Herzlia Lecture: Nitsana Darshan-Leitner explains how her organization, the Israel Law Centre, was at the centre of a momentous case argued in front of the US Supreme Court

By BERNIE BELLAN In 2022 the Jerusalem Post listed the 50 most influential Jews in the world. Number 42 on that list was Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, head of an organization known in Hebrew as Shurat Hadin or in English as the Israel Law Centre. (Interestingly, number 33 on the list was writer Dara Horn. Both Horn and Darshan-Leitner share one other attribute in common: They’ve now both been speakers at the Adas Yeshurun-Herzlia’s annual guest lecture.)
On the afternoon of Sunday, May 7, Darshan-Leitner addressed an audience gathered at the Adas Yeshurun-Herzlia. She spoke via Zoom from her home in Israel. The title of her talk was “My journey to the US Supreme Court.”

I had the pleasure of meeting Nitsana Darshan-Leitner in 2013 when I was part of a mission sponsored by Shurat Hadin. Later that same year I interviewed her over the phone. Both my article about that initial meeting in Israel and my later interview can be found on our website. Simply click on the “Search Archives” link at the top of the home page and enter Nitsana Darshan.
Back in 2013, however, Shurat Hadin was mostly involved in filing lawsuits against governments, e.g., Iran and the Palestinian Authority, or against banks, e.g., the Bank of China. The purpose of filing those lawsuits, as Darshan-Leitner also explained on May 7, was to go after the sources of funding for terrorist groups.
While some may wonder about the effectiveness of such a strategy, the proof is in the pudding. As Darshan-Leitner noted during her hour-long talk, Shurat Hadin has won over $2 billion in judgments against various actors since lawyers working pro bono in 2000 filed their very first lawsuit against the Palestinian Authority that year. And, in case you think that those judgments are merely symbolic – given how difficult it often is to collect on a judgment, Darshan-Leitner added that, to date, Shurat Hadin has been able to collect $400 million altogether. In turn, the funds collected have been handed over to the families of victims of terrorism.

How did Shurat Hadin get its start?
It goes back to a grisly episode that occurred in 2000 when two Israeli soldiers made a wrong turn in their jeep and ended up in Ramallah, she told the Herzlia audience. They were dragged from their vehicle and ended up in a PA police station where they were beaten to death by Palestinian policemen. Then their bodies were handed over to the mob waiting outside the police station whereupon they were tied to a vehicle and dragged through the town.
Normally, Darshan-Leitner explained, the policemen involved in the murders of the two Israeli soldiers would have been pursued through legal means, but in this case it was decided to go after the Palestinian Authority itself. Eventually Shurat Hadin won a judgment of $64 million against the PA.

Other acts of terrorism where it was possible to prove who was responsible have also been followed up with lawsuits and judgments. But, as Darshan-Leitner admitted, in cases where the Palestinian Authority has been held liable for acts of terrorism against Israeli citizens, Shurat Hadin has asked the Israeli government to withhold funds that are supposed to be transferred to the PA as part of an agreement reached during the Oslo Accords under which Israel would collect tax revenues from Palestinians and hand those revenues over to the PA. Whenever an Israeli government has threatened to withhold revenues, however, pressure is exerted not to do that in the interest of keeping the PA from collapsing.
It’s been a different story when it comes to non-Israeli victims of terrorism. Under laws passed in the US (and in other jurisdictions, including Canada) over the years, governments and financial institutions that have been found to have provided the financing for terrorist groups that were responsible for the killing of Americans (and other nationals) can be sued in the countries from where those nationals came if they have laws similar to the one in the US.
In various lawsuits filed against the PA in courts when individuals have been killed as a result of terrorist activities which Shurat Hadin has been able to prove were financed by the PA, a total of $655 million in judgments have been won by Shurat Hadin against the PA.
But, here’s the catch: The US State Department has consistently intervened whenever the PA has been found liable in US courts, arguing that “the PA is a vital part of US policy in the Middle East,” Darshan-Leitner said.
Further, the PA has claimed that it has no legal presence in the US and that in order to be held liable for damages, Shurat Hadin would have to show that the PA has “personal jurisdiction” in the US. A US Court of Appeal agreed with that argument and all the prior judgments against the PA were subsequently vacated. Upon appeal to the Supreme Court, Shurat Hadin’s argument was rejected again.
The US Congress, however, saw things differently, and passed legislation requiring any country or entity receiving aid from the US government to “have to accept personal jurisdiction in cases of terror,” Darshan-Leitner said.

While Shurat Hadin has been successful in winning judgments in various courts over the years, in 2015 it adopted a new strategy, which was to go after some of the biggest providers of social media, including Google (which owns Youtube) and Facebook, arguing they abet terrorism, not only by allowing content on their sites that publicizes terrorist acts, they also often promote terrorism byproviding that content.
Although there is nothing new in the argument that social media have played a huge role, both in promoting acts of terrorism – and antisemitism in general, Darshan-Leitner explained that Shurat Hadin employed a new tactic in its recent submission to the US Supreme Court.
Until now, she observed, social media have been protected from any claims against them by referring to Section 230 of something called the Community Decency Act, which was passed by Congress in 1995.
That section protects social media by drawing a distinction between producers of content on the internet and publishers of that content. For instance, in its lawsuit against Facebook (for $1 billion), lawyers representing Shurat Hadin argued that teenagers have been prompted to emulate Facebook posts that explained techniques that could be used in murdering, such as how “to twist a knife.”
“Any time there’s an attack, “Facebook posts glorifying that attack received “tens of thousands of likes,” Darshan-Leitner observed.
In its defense, she said, Facebook has argued that “they’re only a bulletin board…they’re not publishers.”
Facebook also says that “it does block pages and monitor content,” Darshan-Leitner said, but Shurat Hadin mounted an experiment to show that Facebook is inconsistent in how it monitors posts.
Two different pages were created by Shurat Hadin, she continued. “One was against Palestinians, one against Israelis. Facebook took down the page against Palestinians,” but not the one against Israelis.”
Shurat Hadin also filed suit against Google for allowing ISIS to post videos on Youtube showing how to behead people.

When lawyers for Shurat Hadin appeared before the US Supreme Court in February to present their brief, some judges on the court agreed that if Google is “recommending content, then they are responsible for that content,” Darshan-Leitner noted.
Still, she admitted that the chances are slim that the US Supreme Court will rule in favour of Shurat Hadin – in no small part because doing so would have huge implications for so many other companies in addition to Facebook and Google.
Nonetheless, she said, “We very much hope that the Supreme Court will find social media companies responsible for this terrorism.”

Later, David Matas asked Darshan-Leitner this question: “Why did you go after Facebook in the US when you could have gone after them in another country?”
The answer, according to Darshan-Leitner, is that “in Israel the courts follow US law.”
Further, she added, “Europe is out of the question. We don’t like European courts for various reasons.” On top of that, she continued, “European lawyers don’t work on contingencies. Also, you have to file a fee in advance of a court proceeding that is based on a percentage” of the amount of the lawsuit you are filing.”
Thus, it would have been hugely expensive to file a $1 billion lawsuit against Facebook in a European court.
Regardless what the Supreme Court’s decision was going to be, Darshan-Leitner said, “there are 25 proposals before Congress to amend Section 230” of the Community Decency Act.
“We have to insure that almost 80 years after the Holocaust there is a price to be paid for taking Jewish blood,” Darshan-Leitner said at the conclusion of her talk.

(Note: The Supreme Court decision on Shurat Hadin’s lawsuit against Facebook came down on May 18. Shurat Hadin lost. For more on the US Supreme Court’s decision in the Shurat Hadin case which was handed down on May 18.

Here is a report on the Supreme Court’s decision:

US Supreme Court rules for Big Tech in terror cases
“The victims accuse the social media giants of knowingly providing services to groups like ISIS and Hezbollah.”
(May 21, 2023 / JNS) The U.S. Supreme Court ruled last week against the families of terrorism victims in s cases in which the plaintiffs accused Google, Twitter and Facebook of “aiding and abetting” attacks by failing to block content promoting terrorism.
Thecase, Gonzalez v. Google, was sent back to a lower court. The plaintiffs asserted that the companies were liable for the death of American college student Nohemi Gonzalez, who was killed in a café during coordinated ISIS attacks in Paris in 2015.
The May 18 decisions handed a victory to the tech industry by declining to weigh in on the foundational U.S. internet law known as Section 230.
The law, a provision in the 1996 Communications Decency Act, protects online companies from liability for content posted by their users. It also gives internet companies the ability to remove content without liability.
Of the two cases, Gonzalez v. Google gave the Supreme Court the more direct opportunity to tackle Section 230. However, the court said the suit should be dismissed because the plaintiffs didn’t have a case under the Anti-Terrorism Act. It advised the lower court that there was no need to address Section 230.
Shurat HaDin-Israeli Law Center President Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, one of the attorneys for the Gonzalez family, said, “While we are disappointed that the Supreme Court refused to acknowledge the dangers of Section 230’s blanket immunity for the social media platforms and their facilitation of these vital internet services to designated terrorist organizations, we intend to continue to litigate the case when it is remanded.
“It is clearly understood that platforms like YouTube, Twitter and Facebook will never voluntarily act to self-regulate in any meaningful way that safeguards the lives of innocent people or protects the national security of the U.S. or other democratic states. The terror victims accuse the social media giants of knowingly providing their services to extremist groups like ISIS and Hezbollah and will continue to sue them for the devastation they caused to their families,” she added.
Policymakers from both the Democratic and Republican parties called for an overhaul of Section 230 in the wake of the court’s actions, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Not a get-out-of-jail-free card
“The Justices passed on their chance to clarify that Section 230 is not a get-out-of-jail-free card for online platforms when they cause harm,” said Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, according to the newspaper.
Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) said the court’s decision in Gonzalez v. Google case showed “why we must update the law intended to hold these companies accountable.”
Said Darshan-Leitner, “The battle will now pass to the Congress as well, which can no longer hide on the sidelines. There is bipartisan support to rein in Section 230, and the Gonzalezes and other families of victims intend to press the Congress to amend this antiquated statute that aided in the murder of Noehmi Gonzalez.
“We lawyers see this decision as just another hurdle we need to navigate. It took decades to topple Big Tobacco; we’ll eventually rein in reckless and greed-driven Big Tech as well,” she said.
Republicans and Democrats have concluded that Section 230 gives too much leeway to online companies, though for different reasons. Democrats argue that the provision lets internet platforms avoid responsibility for hate speech and negative content. Republicans say it gives cover for Big Tech to censor conservative voices.
Tech companies argue that revamping Section 230 would lead to a flood of litigation and greater censorship as they block questionable content to avoid the increased liability.

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New website for Israelis interested in moving to Canada

By BERNIE BELLAN (May 21, 2024) A new website, titled “Orvrim to Canada” ( has been receiving hundreds of thousands of visits, according to Michal Harel, operator of the website.
In an email sent to Michal explained the reasons for her having started the website:
“In response to the October 7th events, a group of friends and I, all Israeli-Canadian immigrants, came together to launch a new website supporting Israelis relocating to Canada. “Our website,, offers a comprehensive platform featuring:

  • Step-by-step guides for starting the immigration process
  • Settlement support and guidance
  • Community connections and networking opportunities
  • Business relocation assistance and expert advice
  • Personal blog sharing immigrants’ experiences and insights

“With over 200,000 visitors and media coverage from prominent Israeli TV channels and newspapers, our website has already made a significant impact in many lives.”
A quick look at the website shows that it contains a wealth of information, almost all in Hebrew, but with an English version that gives an overview of what the website is all about.
The English version also contains a link to a Jerusalem Post story, published this past February, titled “Tired of war? Canada grants multi-year visas to Israelis” ( That story not only explains the requirements involved for anyone interested in moving to Canada from Israel, it gives a detailed breakdown of the costs one should expect to encounter.

(Updated May 28)

We contacted Ms. Harel to ask whether she’s aware whether there has been an increase in the number of Israelis deciding to emigrate from Israel since October 7. (We want to make clear that we’re not advocating for Israelis to emigrate; we’re simply wanting to learn more about emigration figures – and whether there has been a change in the number of Israelis wanting to leave the country.)
Ms. Harel referred us to a website titled “Globes”:
The website is in Hebrew, but we were able to translate it into English. There is a graph on the website showing both numbers of immigrants to Israel and emigrants.
The graph shows a fairly steady rate of emigration from 2015-2022, hovering in the 40,000 range, then in 2023 there’s a sudden increase in the number of emigrants to 60,000.
According to the website, the increase in emigrants is due more to a change in the methodology that Israel has been using to count immigrants and emigrants than it is to any sudden upsurge in emigration. (Apparently individuals who had formerly been living in Israel but who may have returned to Israel just once a year were being counted as having immigrated back to Israel. Now that they are no longer being counted as immigrants and instead are being treated as emigrants, the numbers have shifted radically.)
Yet, the website adds this warning: “The figures do not take into account the effects of the war, since it is still not possible to identify those who chose to emigrate following it. It is also difficult to estimate what Yalad Yom will produce – on the one hand, anti-Semitism and hatred of Jews and Israelis around the world reminds everyone where the Jewish home is. On the other hand, the bitter truth we discovered in October is that it was precisely in Israel, the safe fortress of the Jewish people, that a massacre took place reminding us of the horrors of the Holocaust. And if that’s not enough, the explosive social atmosphere and the difference in the state budget deficit, which will inevitably lead to a heavy burden of taxes and a reduction in public services, may convince Zionist Israelis that they don’t belong here.”
Thus, as much as many of us would be disappointed to learn that there is now an upsurge in Israelis wanting to move out of the country, once reliable figures begin to be produced for 2024, we shouldn’t be surprised to learn that is the case – which helps to explain the tremendous popularity of Ms. Harel’s website.

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Message from a Palestinian in Gaza to protesters: “You’re hurting the Palestinian cause”

Protesters at McGill University

A very brave Palestinian who was willing to put his name to paper and write an article for Newsweek Magazine has exposed the utter hypocrisy of all those students – and others, who have been setting up encampments across the U.S. – and now Canada, too.

You can read the article at

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The Most Expensive Israeli Soccer Transfers

Eran Zahavi

Even if Israel isn’t known as a world soccer power, it has produced plenty of talented players who have made a living in top European leagues. On more than one occasion, an Israeli international has commanded a rather large transfer fee. But who are the most expensive players in Israel’s history? The answer could be a little surprising. We took a look back to find the most expensive Israeli soccer transfers of all time.

Tai Baribo

In 2023, Baribo made the move to MLS, signing with the Philadelphia Union. The reported fee was around $1.5 million, which is one of the highest transfer fees the Union has ever paid for a player.

Omer Atzili

Throughout his career, Atzili has played for a variety of clubs, including stops in Spain and Greece. In 2023, he joined Al Ain in the UAE for a transfer fee of $2.1 million.

Maor Buzaglo

Now retired, Buzaglo was briefly the holder of the richest transfer deal for an Israeli player. After a couple of successful seasons on loan, Maccabi Tel Aviv paid $2.7 million to rival Maccabi Haifa for Buzaglo in 2008.

Dia Saba

Saba made history in 2020 when he joined Al-Nasr, making him the first Israeli player to play for a club in the UAE. At the time, it was a big deal for relations between the two countries. Al-Nasr also paid an impressive $2.9 million transfer fee for the midfielder.

Tal Ben Haim

On multiple occasions, Ben Haim has been sold for more than $1 million. First, there was his move from Hapoel Tel Aviv to Maccabi Tel Aviv in 2023 for close to $1.2 million. A few years later, Sparta Prague came calling for him, spending $3.1 million as a transfer fee for the winger.

Itay Shechter

During the prime of his career, Shechter was the type of player who warranted a seven-figure transfer fee. German club Kaiserslautern paid a little over $2.6 million in 2011 to bring Shechter to the Bundesliga from Hapoel Tel Aviv.

Daniel Peretz

When Peretz was sold to Bayern Munich, it wasn’t the most expensive deal involving an Israeli player, although it was arguably the most important. He became the first Israeli Jew to play at Bayern, which is one of the biggest clubs in the world. The transfer fee for Peretz paid by Bayern Munich to Maccabi Tel Aviv was around $5.4 million.

Oscar Gloukh

Gloukh is one of the best young Israeli players right now. He already has three international goals in a dozen appearances to his name. Somehow, Gloukh is already one of the most expensive players in Israel’s history. After coming up with Maccabi Tel Aviv, he moved to Austrian giant Red Bull Salzburg in 2023 for a transfer fee of close to $7.5 million. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see him top that number one day.

Liel Abada

Abada has been a part of two huge transfer deals in his young career. In 2021, Scottish club Celtic paid $4.8 million to acquire him from Maccabi Petah Tikva. However, that number was topped in 2024 when Charlotte FC of MLS paid a fee of $8 million for Abada.

With Charlotte FC, Abada competes in North America’s top league, facing teams from both Mexico and Canada. Throughout North America, sports betting has taken off in recent years. That includes betting in Canada, where there is a large collection of trusted sports betting platforms.

Eran Zahavi

To date, Zahavi holds the record for the most expensive transfer fee paid for an Israeli player. It’s fitting for Israel’s former captain and all-time leading scorer. In 2016, Chinese club Guangzhou City paid $12.5 million to get Zahavi from Maccabi Tel Aviv. That record was nearly broken later that year when another Chinese club offered $20 million for Zahavi, who turned it down and stayed with Guangzhou City.

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