My summer at Shurat HaDin was much more than an internship. It was an unforgettable experience both because of the work we did and the people I was lucky to do it with. Arriving in the office, I wasn’t sure what to expect – I was the second intern there and a bit earlier than anticipated, but Rachel, Devorah, and Dan were ready for us. Immediately, I was challenged on projects ranging from arguments for terrorists’ personal liability in U.S. Federal Court to developing and discussing how to frame causes of action. The challenge and critical thinking Shurat HaDin expects and really requires to hold terrorists and their accomplices to account is remarkable. I consider myself lucky to have gotten the opportunity to lend a hand – even for a couple short months.
Naturally, I had a lot of questions about the work. It’s unusual to the point of head-scratching wonderment. This was especially true on the most fundamental question I had: does it help? I was shown the answer is a resounding yes.
A former Mossad agent and former clients both illustrated the practical and emotional value that the team at Shurat HaDin brings to litigation. Money flow to terror groups is greatly impinged if not halted by litigation that keeps it out of major financial institutions. Keeping tabs on that money means Shurat HaDin can stop the flow of terrorist dollars and, therefore, terrorist activity itself. I had to see and hear it to believe it, but the fact is simple – it works.
Former and current clients were kind enough to speak with us about what I can only imagine is the most horrific memory of their lives. Their courage showed us the value of Shurat HaDin’s work to those most directly affected. Even when recovery of damages is tough, there is a measure of relief detectable in the voices and on the faces of former clients who have been told by the courts that a grave wrong was committed against them. There is some justice in their small solace despite unspeakable suffering.
As I was learning the value of the work, more interns were joining to do it alongside us. The more of us there were, the more complicated the tasks we could take on. Working as a team and developing ideas among ourselves and with the senior attorneys became a more valuable exercise for expanding my thinking with each new arrival.
But maybe as important as the work we did together was the quality of the friendships we developed. When tough issues arose (as they always do), we could count on each other to have difficult conversations about terrorism, about Israel, about our Jewish and Christian values. Those conversations informed my summer and view on the world, while they informed my sense of the work Shurat HaDin has in its future. While I won’t be there physically to take part, I am incredibly glad to have had the opportunity, however brief, to be a part of it for one summer.
Joshua L. Levin, NYU Law