Nitsana Darshan-Leitner

Nitsana Darshan-Leitner
Nitsana Darshan-Leitner
Born Israel Petach Tikvah, Israel
Occupation Lawyer, 'Jewish Rights Advocate'
Nationality Israel Israel

Nitsana Darshan-Leitner (born in Petach Tikvah, Israel) is a controversial Israeli lawyer, Human rights activist and founder of Shurat Hadin Israeli Law Center. She is known for her legal activism, especially campaigns to sue terror organizations and terrorists on behalf of victims. She is also a media personality appearing in the press, on radio and television including Israeli talk show programs, Voice of Israel radio, CNN, the BBC, European television, the Jerusalem Report and many American and Canadian publications.


Early life, education and family

Darshan-Leitner was born in Petah Tikva, Israel. After completing undergraduate education she received a law degree from Bar Ilan University in the 1990s. She subsequently received an MBA from Manchester University in the United Kingdom. She is a mother of six children, three of them triplets, and is married to Aviel Leitner, an American-born attorney from Queens, New York. She currently lives in Hashmonaim, Israel.


In the 1990s Darshan-Leitner helped litigate a case on behalf of victims of the Achille Lauro hijacking of 1985. During work on this case, she appeared before the Israeli Supreme Court in an attempt to prevent one of the hijackers, Muhammed Abbas from being allowed to travel to Israel.[1]

In 2003, Darshan-Leitner founded Shurat HaDin - Israel Law Center in Tel Aviv. Shurat HaDin is an Israeli based civil rights center which focuses on bringing lawsuits and legal actions on behalf of the victims of terrorism. She has said she was influenced by the activities of the Southern Poverty Law Center which had bankrupted several branches of the KKK and other neo-Nazi groups through civil litigation. In founding Shurat HaDin, she noted her goal was to "go after terrorists in the same way that they (the SPLC) were going after racists."[2] To date her group has recovered over $20 million from State Department designated terrorist organizations and state sponsoring regimes such as Iran.

Prominent cases

Since 2003 Darshan-Leitner and a team of lawyers have worked with hundreds of terror victims in lawsuits[3] and legal actions against Hamas, the Palestinian Authority, Iran, Syria,[4] Islamic Jihad[disambiguation needed ] and numerous financial institutions.[4] The cases are litigated in the Israeli, American, Canadian and European courts.

Darshan-Leitner has been involved in a wide-range of legal actions in Israel.[5] and abroad on behalf of Jewish rights cases[6] In total she has won judgments of over $702 million against organizations such as the Palestinian Authority.

In February 2002 Darshan-Leitner was awarded $183 million from Iran by a U.S court for Iran's role in a Hamas suicide bombing in Jerusalem.

In September 2006, Darshan-Leitner and New York attorney Robert Tolchin filed a law suit in federal court on behalf of the families of 12 missing Jewish-Iranians against the former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami. Khatami has refused to answer the complaint and has defaulted the case.

In January 2008, she filed a lawsuit for NIS 260,000,000 ($65,000,000 US) against the Egyptian Government in a court in Beersheba on behalf of ten families of Sderot (Israel) whose relatives were killed or seriously injured by Palestinian Kassam rockets.

In May 2008, Shurat HaDin was co-counsel in filing in Manhattan Federal Court against Swiss mega bank UBS GA[5] which is accused by the plaintiffs of financing terror. Included amongst the plaintiffs were three families who were physically and emotionally harmed by the Katyusha rockets launched by Hizbollah into Israeli cities during the 2006 war with Lebanon. Attorneys for UBS have denied the allegations and said they would vigorously defend the law suit.

In June 2008, the families of 12 missing Iranian Jews filed a petition in the Israeli High Court of Justice seeking to block the Israeli government from releasing information on the fate of four disappeared Iranian diplomats as part of the prisoner release deal with Hizbollah. The Iranian diplomats were captured by Christian militia forces, the Samir Jaja faction, in South Lebanon in 1982. The families are represented in the court proceeding before the High Court by Darshan-Leitner.

In July 2008, Darshan-Leiter received word from the Israeli High Court of Justice that the petition was being dismissed as the issue was one of "diplomatic concern." The court did however point a harsh finger at Israeli PM at the time, Mr. Ehud Olmert, with an expectation that the "matter not be pushed assunder." Darshan-Leinter then turned to the PM with a request by the families for an urgent meeting before the deal went through. Receiving no response, Darshan-Leiter then turned to all 120 members of the Israeli Parliament, The Knesset, asking that they remember the 12 Missing Jews of Iran in their speeches and activities throughout their term of service.

In July 2008, the Center joined with Montreal-based attorney Jeffrey Boro and Professor Ed Morgan of the University of Toronto's International Law and Counter-Terrorism Project to file a civil action by Canadian victims of Hizbollah. The law suit.[7] contends that since 2004, the Lebanese-Canadian Bank (LCB), formerly the Lebanese branch of the Royal Bank of Canada, permitted the Yousser Company for Finance and Investment and the and Martyrs Foundation, two Lebanese organizations recognized by the United States as active terrorist groups, to open and maintain accounts at the bank. The suit alleges that LCB allowed the two groups to freely transfer many millions of dollars of Hizbollah funds and to carry out millions of dollars in financial transactions, within and without Lebanon, by means of wire transfers, letters of credit, checks and credit cards provided by LCB. LCB, the suit charged, facilitated Hizbollah's terrorist activities and is liable to the plaintiffs for the harm that has been inflicted upon them and their families in the rockets attacks launched by Hizbollah on civilians in Northern Israel in the year 2006. Darshan-Leitner claimed in filing the suit that LCB knew that both charities are part of Hizbollah's financial arm and that by providing them banking services they were really assisting the Iranian backed terrorists in Lebanon and their rocket attacks against civilians.

On July 14, 2008, Darshan-Leiter and Attorney Robert Tolchin of New York filed a civil action on behalf of victims of the Hizbollah against an American Bank. The action was filed in the New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan Representing 85 victims and their family members, the law suit[8] alleges that the American Express Bank, Ltd. and the Lebanese-Canadian Bank (LCB) unlawfully executed millions of dollars in wire transfers for Hizbollah between 2004 and 2006. The plaintiffs assert that Hizbollah used the funds transferred by AMEX Bank and LCB to prepare and carry out the rocket attacks which the terrorist organization rained on Israeli cities between July 12 and August 14, 2006.

The plaintiffs rested their claims in part on written findings issued by the New York State Banking Department in 2007, which determined that AMEX Bank had failed to establish adequate procedures to prevent terrorism financing as demanded by state and federal law. This is the first lawsuit brought by terror victims against an U.S. financial institution that serves as a correspondent for a bank in Lebanon. Darshan-Leitner told the Associated Press that "the idea of the lawsuit in part is to warn American correspondent banks that they will be held responsible for attacks by Hezbollah if they transfer money to them," Darshan-Leitner said. "We expect them to follow the law."

On August 21, 2008, over 100 victims of terrorist attacks carried out by the Hamas and Palestine Islamic Jihad ("PIJ") terror organizations in Israel filed a civil action in Los Angeles Superior Court against China’s largest bank, the Bank of China Ltd. ("BOC"). The suit, Zahavi v. Bank of China, seeks both compensatory and punitive damages. The plaintiffs allege in their complaint that starting in 2003, BOC executed dozens of wire transfers for the Hamas and PIJ totaling several million dollars. In April 2005, Israeli counterterrorism officers met with officials from the Chinese Ministry of Public Security and China’s Central Bank regarding these Hamas and PIJ wire transfers. The Israelis demanded that the Chinese officials take action to prevent BOC from making any further such transfers. Despite the Israeli warnings, the BOC – with the Chinese government’s approval – continued to wire terrorist funds for the Hamas and PIJ. The plaintiffs are represented by attorneys Federico C. Sayre of Los Angeles, Robert Tolchin of New York and Darshan-Leitner.

In February 2011, Darshan-Leitner and David Schoen filed a $5m lawsuit against former US President Jimmy Carter, alleging that his book Palestine: Peace not Apartheid "intentionally misleads and misrepresents about actual historic events", contrary to New York state law against deceptive business practices.[9]

Public Campaigns

On May 1, 2008, Darshan-Leitner along with former Soviet Ida Nudel launched a public campaign to save the life of a Palestinian police officer accused of having assisted the Israeli intelligence services in hunting down fugitive terrorists. The policeman, Imad Sa'ad[10] has been sentenced to death by a Palestinian military tribunal in Hebron. Sa'ad, it is alleged, provided the Israel Defense Forces with the whereabouts of four suspected bomb makers whom the Palestinian Authority was unwilling to hand over to the Israelis.

Darshan-Leitner has argued that the Temple Mount is being harmed by work carried out by the Jerusalem Wakf and she organized a campaign to encourage the Israeli government to file charges against the Wakf; "The Temple Mount is the property of the Jewish nation and has been for thousands of years. Therefore the Jewish people have a right to indict Wafq officials."[1]


  1. ^ a b
  2. ^
  3. ^ Kaufman, Amy (May 2, 2003). "Attorney hits terrorists where it hurts". Jewish Review. Retrieved 2008-04-02. 
  4. ^ a b Miller, Judith (August 2, 2000). "Syria Is Sued by Family of Man Killed by '96 Bomb in Jerusalem". NYTimes. Retrieved 2008-04-03. 
  5. ^ a b News, Fox (March 17, 2008). "Israeli Town Demands Anti-Missile Laser". FoxNews.,2933,338009,00.html. Retrieved 2008-04-03. 
  6. ^ Pittok, Todd (February 22, 2005). "On the trail of terrorists". JewsWeek. Retrieved 2008-04-03. 
  7. ^ "Lawsuit targets bank over alleged Hezbollah ties". CTA Global Media. July 8, 2008. Retrieved 2008-07-08. 
  8. ^ "Survivors of 2006 Hezbollah attacks sue 2 banks for $650M in federal court in US". LA Times. July 14, 2008.,1,5474466.story. Retrieved 2008-07-15. [dead link]
  9. ^ Horn, Jordana (3 February 2011). "Jimmy Carter being sued for alleged falsehoods". Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 24 May 2011. 
  10. ^ Lake, Eli (May 5, 2008). "Appeal Is Made to Bush To Save Arab Accused of Helping Israel". NY Daily Sun. Retrieved 2008-06-01. 

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