We recently attended the first day of a two day ‘Law & War’ conference in Jerusalem held by Shurat HaDin, a terrific organization that fights Israel’s battles by legal means, using court systems around the world to go on the offensive against Israel’s enemies. Its motto: “Bankrupting Terrorism – One Lawsuit at a Time!”
Shurat HaDin acts to put terrorists and their supporters on trial to compensate victims and block funding of terror; by fighting to end the use of social media for inciting violence and promoting terror; by defending Israel, its leaders, and soldiers against claims of war crimes; and by battling lawfare, BDS and other efforts to delegitimize the Jewish State.
We arrived in Jerusalem just after Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, the dynamic and formidable leader of Shurat HaDin, began the conference with one of her powerful speeches. We did hear her later when she addressed the attendees at the cocktail fundraiser following the day’s program. Darshan-Leitner is the president of Shurat HaDin and co-author of the bestselling Harpoon: Inside the Covert War Against Terrorism’s Money Masters, published by Hachette (2017).
Because of the depth of the program, I’ll describe just some of the highlights, although all the speakers were worthwhile and worthy of attention. The first panel discussion covered the International Criminal Court (ICC): can it be fixed or should it even exist. This problematic institution was roundly criticized by the four participants, who included an American professor of law, a Kenyan former Attorney General, a former US Air Force Judge Advocate and current law professor, and a former Prosecuting Attorney at the ICC.
Except from the former ICC prosecutor, there were few compliments about the “accomplishments” of the ICC. Many nations, including Israel and the US, have refused to put themselves under its jurisdiction and thus are only peripherally affected by its investigations, not to mention its decisions. About decisions, it was noted that there have been only a few convictions during the ICC’s tenure. It has 122 member states, was founded in 2002, and is governed by a multilateral treaty, the Rome Statute.
Until now, the ICC has indicted just 44 individuals and it has faced a number of criticisms from states and civil society, including objections about its jurisdiction, accusations of bias, questioning of the fairness of its case-selection and trial procedures, and doubts about its effectiveness. Its budget for 2017 alone was $160 million and it employed 800 persons from approximately 100 nations. All of this has resulted in only six convictions with jail sentences. (wikipedia.com)
It was noted by a member of the panel that although the justices of the court have not requested it, Israel is under continuing investigation as a possible war crimes perpetrator and will probably be charged at some time.
A fascinating talk was given by two North Korea experts, Prof. Bruce E. Bechtol Jr., an award winning professor of political science at Angelo State University (Texas), a retired Marine, and a former faculty member at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College and the Air Command and Staff College, and Greg Scarlatoiu, Executive Director of the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea.
Their scary presentation gave us the willies about the huge impact of North Korea in the Middle East. For example, North Korea is the main actor behind Iran’s great successes in atomics and missile production. It provides the designs, the parts, and the technicians who build Iran s weaponry (which supplies Hezbollah and other proxies), all on Iranian soil. According to the two experts, a ship carrying materiel from North Korea can change its flags and name more than twenty times to avoid international detection on the way to Iran. The technicians are housed along the Iranian coast in two towns populated exclusively by North Korean personnel.
North Korea is adept in taking existing technology and improving it, often by simple but effective methods, such as putting together four small rocket engines to make one very big engine or lengthening short, limited range Scuds to enable them to have greater range. Iran has enlarged, with impunity, its offenses into a formidable force which allows it to extend its power throughout the Middle East, on land, on sea, and under the sea.
With its million-man army, WMDs, and missile technology, plus the ruling dynasty’s three-generation fixation with controlling all of the Korean Peninsula, North Korea is capable of overrunning the much “softer” South Korea, which is a democracy, not a tyrannically controlled warrior state. North Korea is all guns and no butter, except for what is provided to the tiny ruling class.
The most lively presentation of the day was the panel discussion which included Dr. Motti Kedar, TV presenter Zvi Yehezkeli, former Deputy Chief of the Army Uzi Dayan, and former Deputy Military Advocate General Eli Bar-On. Dayan, who like many former generals has entered the political arena, was outspoken about the two-state solution, which he says has become “three states for two peoples” (Israel plus the Palestinian Authority and Gaza Strip). Dayan isn’t deterred from seeking the destruction of Hamas, because “something worse” might result. He advocates the removal of the Hamas leadership regardless of the price.
Dayan believes Arabs are jealous of Israel’s stability and its status as the only state and community in the region which is free, democratic, stable, and strong economically and militarily. Plus, it’s strong demographically: Israel will likely have a threefold increase in population by mid-century.
Kedar, an intelligence expert who speaks Arabic better than the Arabs, lectures at Bar-Ilan Univ. and is a scholar at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, told the audience that he met Yasser Arafat in 1996, after the inauguration of the Oslo Accords. Arafat gave the usual “garbage spiel,” saying that within five years he would unilaterally declare statehood. Practically speaking, that has yet to occur.
To the contrary, Kedar said that Gaza is for all intents and purposes an independent state, with borders, a government, an army, and state organizations; nevertheless, Israel remains in charge of food, water, utilities, and more. Despite this, Kedar said Gaza functions better than most Arab countries. Sardonically, Kedar called it a “super-state,” because it has Israel to take care of it. In fact, Kedar believes that Gaza could be called the first Palestinian “Emirate,” part of a plan which he advocates for Palestinian Arab city-states which would be included in the Land of Israel.
Zvi Yehezkeli is the Arab Affairs Correspondent and Head of the Arab Desk at Israel News 13. Before speaking, he showed us a fascinating video of himself at a German immigration office with a false Syrian passport, after he had entered Europe through Turkey by passing himself off as a Syrian fleeing the Assad regime. The German immigrant official, an Arab himself, gave Zvi a perfunctory examination and approved his application for entry into German society. In answer to Zvi’s question about when he could bring his family to Germany, the official told him that he must wait three years before they could enter. But, with a wink and a nod, he said it was no problem for the “new German” to smuggle his family into the country.
Yehzkeli, like Dayan, advocated targeting the Hamas leadership. He criticized the IDF leadership for not being willing to solve the problems in Gaza, but just drifting from crisis to crisis. He said the war with Gaza continues incessantly, not just when bullets are flying. The Arabs have time and infinite patience, he said, while Israelis always want a quick solution – which has not been forthcoming. Yehzkeli pointed out that the Islamic creed, to indoctrinate the population (dawa), before conquering the infidels (jihad) is going on in Europe right now, in plain sight.
There were three speeches before the end of the conference. Former senator and vice-presidential candidate Joseph Lieberman spoke, as well as the fabulous Stephen Harper, former prime minister of Canada and one of Israel’s best advocates. The most dynamic of the three was the high powered New York defense attorney, Benjamin Brafman, who flew in just for the event (after having left Israel just days before). His inspiring speech about the strength, courage, vitality, and faithfulness of Israelis uplifted everyone in the audience.
The fund-raising cocktail party which followed the event included a dance and song presentation by a young female troupe from Haifa, mostly Israeli Ethiopians. The day ended with an inspiring speech by Darshan-Leitner, who has led Shurat HaDin from its inception. The second day’s program looked as great as this one, but we had other plans, which didn’t include sitting down all day. That adventure will be the subject of another article.
For more information about Shurat HaDin, go to https://israellawcenter.org/