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

Israel/PalestineUS Politics
on 12 Comments

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.

About Allison Deger

Allison Deger is the Assistant Editor of Follow her on twitter at @allissoncd.

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12 Responses

  1. Abu Malia
    January 2, 2012, 7:33 pm

    “live exhibition of penetration raids in Arab territory,”
    Wow! I imagine they mean the undefended Palestinian territories since i don’t see them “penetrating” the Hezbollah defended Southern Lebanon.
    Speaking of those pesky Hezbollah boys, that ill fated Israeli war in 2006 reminded me so much of Mike Tyson and Holyfield II. During this second bout between these two gentlemen, Mike (a man i admired and still wish him well) run into a boxer who, was not intimidated, have studied him extensively, knew how to avoid Mike’s famous over-head right (read: Israeli Air force) and his vicious upper cut (Read: Golani and Givati Brigades in Bint Jbeil). In his (Israel’s) frustration or in ability to knock out Holyfield (Get Hezbollah to cry uncle and return the bodies of the dead soldiers), he bit his ear off (peppered Southern Lebanon with Cluster bombs).

    • Shingo
      January 3, 2012, 2:55 am

      Excellent analogies Abu,

      And like Tyson (who turned to abusing women), Israel resorted to Cast Lead in order to feel better about itself.

      It’s funny to watch these lawyers trying to stifle Al Manar TV, when the IDF couldn’t lay a hand on the television network throughout the 2006 war.

      • pabelmont
        January 3, 2012, 8:42 am

        OTOH, it is not funny to contemplate that the USA’s list of terrorists allows criminal and civil lawsuits against anyone who gives “material support” to anyone listed as a terrorist.

        So far (and for foreseeable future) Israel has not, repeat NOT, been listed as a “terrorist” organization (or country supporting terrorism), as far as I know. That REALLY UN-LEVELS THE PLAYING FIELD!

        One consequence if twitter “folds” is that the rest of the world will have to get its own social media and that will cut into USA’s business, not so bad a thing, a form of “blowback”.

    • Walid
      January 3, 2012, 4:12 am

      Speaking about Hizbullah boys, article in Haaretz today says,”Israel to shut down Dimona nuclear reactor should war break out”.

      Makes you wonder why Israel’s spooked. Probably taking Nasrallah’s latest promise more seriously than it’s letting on.

      Remember those live exhibitions an Israeli tourist agency was putting on during the Cast Lead assault on Gaza when Israelis were having picnics with soft drinks and pop corn to watch the phosphorus show over Gaza?

  2. MRW
    January 2, 2012, 10:05 pm

    Where is the Columbia Journalism Review on this? We have press rights in this country, and if this group is attempting to use our laws about an overseas org, then the press laws apply as well.

    So Shurat HaDin is the RightHaven of Israeli politics?

    This is proof positive of the extraordinary danger Congress has allowed the Israeli Lobby to make by injecting their uncontrolled paranoia and psychopathy into our legal system.

  3. Bandolero
    January 2, 2012, 11:25 pm

    Thank you for your fine article showing the means of Israeli lawfare. And thanks a lot for shedding a bit of light onto Somalia.

    Just one correction.

    “Al-Shabaab, an Ethiopian militant resistance group”

    Al-Shabaab is not Ethiopian, but a popular Sunni resistance group from Somalia. Ethiopia fights the group on Somalian soil.

    Btw: Israel reportedly sent drones a couple of weeks ago to Kenya, which bomb Al Shabaab fighters in Somalia – or civilians, who knows.

  4. piotr
    January 2, 2012, 11:34 pm

    I followed the link to Shurat HaDin website and it is quite disappointing. Sure, a trip to Israel for mere 3000 is a steal, given the level of attraction like visit to the IDF unit that performs targeted assassinations. Donations to Shurat HaDin are obligatory, but in the modest range 500-5000. Perhaps is one exceeds that modest suggested range one can actually perpetrate an assassination from a helicopter? Ultimate Safari! Even a convincing video simulation would be spiffy.

    Now, the disappointing part. Hotel acommodation is glatt kosher, OK but why three meals a day are merely kosher?

  5. Henry Norr
    January 2, 2012, 11:50 pm

    Shurat HaDin is also the group that filed the bogus complaint to the Greek Coast Guard that served as the original pretext for preventing The Audacity of Hope from sailing to Gaza as part of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla last June.

  6. justicewillprevail
    January 3, 2012, 10:17 am

    Shurat HaDin is just another arm of the Israel Propaganda Dept, engaged in whitewashing Israel whilst suppressing free speech, debate and coverage of the conflict in the media. Intimidation and scaremongering are the tactics of the bullies, remarkably similar to the Arab despots they affect to despise so much.

  7. Taxi
    January 3, 2012, 2:51 pm

    I hate censorship. Even mondoweiss censorship. All shackles I refuse and all shacklers I despise.

    Does that explain my appalled disgust and wrath at Apartheid israel’s thug behavior?

  8. Hostage
    January 3, 2012, 9:26 pm

    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.”

    The Office of Civil Rights policy on Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that they circulated to the universities is pretty strained and contrived. It attempts to equate Anti-Zionism or Anti-Israeli sentiments with Anti-Semitism. Of course it can’t be used to prevent political criticism like that leveled against other states or against Jews or others who have religious objections to Zionism or Israel:

    Until late 2004, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) largely avoided anti-Semitism cases based on two concerns, both of which have strong intuitive appeal. First, Jews are not considered to constitute a distinct “race” as that term is used in contemporary social science or in common public usage. Second, Congress elected not to prohibit religious discrimination in Title VI, and anti-Semitism is, among other things, a form of religious discrimination. Until 2004, OCR did not recognize that Jews also form an ethnic or ancestral group and that the scope of legislatively prohibited “racial” discrimination may not be limited by either social scientific or colloquial use of that term. In late 2004, OCR finally determined that Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits anti-Semitic harassment at federally funded public and private universities, except to the extent that the harassment is exclusively based on tenets of the student’s religious faith.

    The author of Anti-Zionism As Racism: Campus Anti-Semitism And The Civil Rights Act Of 1964, Kenneth L. Marcus, happens to be the Office of Civil Rights official who adopted the 2004 OCR policy. He doesn’t appear to be aware of the International Law Commission discussions about the lack of a agreement on a general rule in international law for the right of a state to exist, because he claims that challenging Israel’s right to exist is per se Anti-Semitism. There certainly is not a right for an apartheid state to exist and that is a criticism that has been leveled against Rhodesia, the Union of South Africa, & etc. The author tends to bury the caveats that make the OCR policy toothless in the footnotes.

  9. Proton Soup
    January 3, 2012, 9:53 pm

    What Shurat HaDin is engaging in here is called “paper terrorism”.

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