Using law to fight a war
By Melanie PHILLIPS
21 March 2008
Asymmetric warfare is normally defined as the weak pitting
themselves against forces equipped with infinitely superior
But in fact, unlike conventional warfare between states,
asymmetric warfare conceals the real drivers of the
aggression - those regimes which finance, recruit, arm and
train those who fire rockets at civilians or turn themselves
into human bombs.
Such concealment paralyses countries which need to protect
their citizens against such terror. Their military might
becomes a boomerang when, as happened during Israel's recent
action in Gaza, the terrorists place women and children on
the rooftops during air-raids in order to maximise civilian
The credulous West accordingly sees an inhuman Israel
killing unarmed innocents. The regimes whose strategic aim
is the death of such innocents as well as the slaughter of
Israelis are totally absent from the false picture imprinted
upon the West's collective retina.
Since asymmetric warfare thus limits the capacity of armies
to bring about a military solution, defenders of
civilisation have to start thinking outside the box.
In Israel a law centre, Shurat Ha'din, is doing just that.
It is forcing the terror-masters onto a different
battleground altogether - the courtrooms of America, Europe
Inspired by the Southern Poverty Law Centre in the US, which
used civil litigation to cripple the Ku Klux Klan, the
lawyers of Shurat Ha'din have helped hundreds of Israeli
terror victims file civil suits against Palestinian terror
groups and their financial patrons.
As leading lights in the organisation told a conference in
Rome last week, such achievements have an important
strategic value. In suing Iran, Syria and the EU for
bankrolling terrorists and in bringing cases against the
Palestinian Authority and Hamas for actual attacks, they
shrink the global space in which the sponsors of terrorism
otherwise enjoy virtually free rein to run their infernal
In an American court, for example, Shurat Ha'din won a $200
million judgment against the PA on behalf of the family of
an American Jew, who was in the band at a batmitzvah party
in Israel which was blown up in a human-bomb attack by a PA
While the PA fights this judgment - on the eye-popping
grounds that the attack on the batmitzvah party was a
'legitimate act of war' - its funds are frozen. This is
causing it so much damage that it asked the State Department
to intervene; two weeks ago, State finally refused.
Other lawsuits brought by Shurat Ha'din are similarly
disrupting the flow of terrorist funds. The Jordan-based
Arab Bank has paid families of human-bomb terrorists
'rewards' for murdering Jews. Since the Arab Bank's NY
branch brought it under US jurisdiction, Shurat Ha'din
launched a lawsuit against it there for $50 million. The
bank promptly announced it would shut its NY branch to avoid
liability - which it has not been allowed to do.
When Hamas came to power, the US and EU froze all PA funding
that would go to Hamas - which in response raised $40
million from terror regimes.
The Arab League told Hamas that it would open a bank account
in Cairo from which it would transfer this money to Gaza.
Since the Arab League had an office in Washington DC, Shurat
Ha'din filed a suit in that city to freeze the money in the
Cairo bank account on the grounds that it should be paid
instead to the Jewish families whose lives Hamas had
Even though diplomatic cravenness in America, Israel and
Europe creates problems in enforcing such judgments, the
very fact they are made forces the terror-masters onto the
back foot. Banks think twice before giving money to terror
groups. Even a case in Italy which Shurat Ha'din lost
against Iran's national oil company forced Iran to shift
funds from Rome to Thailand. As the Palestinian banks only
deal in euros and dollars, terror finding was once again
Since London is arguably the most important centre of all
for the funding of global terror, one might think that the
British courts would play a key role in this strategy of
bankrupting the Islamists. Think again. For this to happen,
such lawsuits need to be filed by British lawyers (on a pro
bono basis). But every British lawyer - and for that, read
Jewish lawyer - asked to do so by Shurat Ha'din has refused.
Is this not shameful? On the battlefield of the mind, the
Islamists are winning. But on the battlefield of the courts,
they are losing.
British Jews are hardly conspicuous by their absence in
Britain's legal circles. Surely they of all people should be
queuing up to use the law to cut the terror-funding networks
and defeat the devious godfathers of the vile and
manipulative war against the Jews?