Pro-Israel ‘lawfare’ group seeks to censor Twitter account for Hezbollah’s TV station

Israel/PalestineUS Politics
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Pro-Israel law firm’s promotion for the “utimate mission to Israel.”  The legal group sent a letter to Twitter, seeking to cancel Hezbollah’s Al Manar Twitter account. 

The Israeli law center Shurat HaDin is on a mission to “fight against terrorism.” Their weapon of choice, “Pro-Israel Lawfare.”

The Israeli law firm’s New York office sent a letter to Twitter on Thursday saying that it would take legal action if the social media site did not censor the accounts of Al Manar TV, Hezbollah’s Lebanon-based media outlet, and Harakat Al Shabaab Al Mujahideen, or Al-Shabaab, a Somali militant resistance group that opened a Twitter account on December 7. The letter was covered in the Washington Post, MSNBC and CNN and read:

Please be advised that providing social media and other associated services to terrorist groups is illegal and will expose Twitter, Inc. and its officers to both criminal prosecution and civil liability to American citizens and others victimized by terrorisms carried out by Hezbollah, Al-Shabaab or other FTOs [Foreign Terrorist Organizations].

al manar
Al Manar

Twitter has not responded publicly to the Israeli law firm’s letter.

Shurat HaDin’s letter claims that Twitter’s allowing social media accounts, or “handles,” for Al Manar News and Al Shabaab constitutes “material support” to terrorism. The law firm seeks to “permanently” close Twitter accounts for “Al-Manar, Al-Shabaab and any other FTOs … Absent such confirmation, we will seek all available relief and remedies against Twitter, Inc. in all relevant jurisdictions.” 

The letter accusing Twitter of supporting terrorism by hosting Al Manar and Al Shabaab is not the first battle the Israeli law firm has initiated alleging media outlets to be Hezbollah supporters. In June 2011 a federal court in New York dismissed Kaplan v. Al Jazeera, a suit in which Shurat HaDin represented American, Canadian and Israeli plaintiffs seeking $1.2 billion in damages for alleged violations of the Antiterrorism Act. Shurat HaDin alleged that due to Al Jazeera‘s  2006 broadcast of Hezbollah rockets being fired into Israel, the Doha based news outlet supported terrorism. Shurat HaDin’s website:

Israeli authorities had requested the news agencies to abstain from broadcasting such information, and there were instances where Israeli authorities caught Al Jazeera engaging in such broadcasts during the rocket barrage.

The judge dismissed the case on the grounds that it could not be proven Al Jazeera intended for Hezbollah to watch the broadcast. Also, the judge found, it could not be proven that broadcasting the rockets amounted to tactical support for future launches (as the Israeli law firm claimed).

The Israeli law firm has also filed eight cases against the governments of Iran, Syria, North Korea, and international financial institutions, all stemming from the firing of Hezbollah rockets into Israel. In four of the cases, Chaim Kaplan and different family members are listed as plaintiffs.  Three of the Hezbollah cases have been dismissed, five are on-going.  In Wultz v. Bank of China, an on-going case, plaintiffs are seeking to apply Israeli tort law in a U.S. District Court, and some evidence Shurat HaDin has offered in the case was provided by Israeli intelligence.

Shurat HaDin seems to have plans to go after American colleges next. Last fall, the organization sent letters to 150 U.S. universities, warning the universities of their legal obligations to protect Jewish and Israeli students from an “alarming number of incidents of harassment and hate crimes occurring… on college campuses.”

In addition to the law firm’s “civil war on terror,” Shurat HaDin offers Israeli excursions for the military-minded traveler. Shurat HaDin’s website boasts tourists can attend “special exhibition of the Flotilla boats detained by the Israeli Navy in IDF navy base,” a “BBQ on the Lebanese border,” can view a “live exhibition of penetration raids in Arab territory,” and can meet Palestinian informants.  Here is a Shurat HaDin video of visitors taking the opportunity to “feel the conflict, hands on.”

The legal notice to Twitter comes about one week after Twitter posted a subpoena from Boston Police, for the records of @OccupyBoston and popular Occupy Boston hashtags.

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