Wednesday, March 05, 2008
Israeli Appeals Court: You Can Denounce the Radical Left
Israeli Appeals Court: You Can Denounce the Radical Left
By P. David Hornik
FrontPageMagazine.com | 3/5/2008
It was a big loss for Israel's radical Left, and a big win for the freedom
to criticize it and describe it accurately.
An appeals court in the Israeli town of Nazareth overturned an earlier
lower-court ruling that had awarded a legal victory to Neve Gordon, a
far-Left Israeli lecturer in political scientist at Ben-Gurion University
in Beersheba. Gordon had filed a SLAPP suit in that court against Prof.
Steven Plaut, a prominent columnist and academic economist, based on
articles Plaut had published denouncing Gordon.s political opinions and
public political activities. Plaut is a critic of Israel's radical
academic Left and is associated with websites that monitor it, including
SLAPP stands for 'Strategic Lawsuit against Public Participation.' In many
parts of the United States there are serious penalties for filing SLAPP
suits, but to date none in Israel.
In particular, Plaut had censured Gordon for repeatedly endorsing the
views and writings of Prof. Norman Finkelstein, recently fired by DePaul
University in Chicago, and even comparing him to the biblical Prophets.
Finkelstein, a fawning admirer of the Hezbollah terror organization, is a
favorite of neo-Nazis like Ernst Zundel. Commentary senior editor Gabriel
Schoenfeld has condemned his .crackpot ideas, some of them mirrored almost
verbatim in the propaganda put out by neo-Nazis around the world.
(Commentary, January 2001, p. 20).
Plaut had also slammed Gordon for illegally entering Ramallah to interfere
with Israeli military operations, describing Gordon's 'human shield' group
as 'Judenrat wannabes.' On February 3, 2002, Israel's ynet reported (in
Hebrew, with photo) that '250 left-wing activists violated the Israeli
army.s orders and entered Ramallah for a meeting with [Yasser] Arafat. . .
. Neve Gordon . . . was photographed with Arafat with hands clasped . . .
In his suit Gordon claimed that Plaut had called him a 'Jew for Hitler'
and Holocaust denier. The appeals court ruled that Plaut had only
characterized Finkelstein as a neo-Nazi and had rebuked Gordon for
endorsing and praising him. Gordon also claimed that other pieces Plaut
wrote about him were libelous, and demanded that Plaut be forced to
compensate him for writing that Gordon's 'academic record' largely
consisted of anti-Israeli political propaganda misrepresented as research
Gordon had won the first round in June 2006 when an Arab woman judge in
the lower court, Reem Naddaf, found in his favor. The appeals panel,
however, states that Naddaf's judgment was replete with errors. Moreover,
Naddaf made no attempt in her verdict to hide her own radical anti-Israeli
political opinions, which happen to coincide largely with those of Gordon.
She inserted outright political declarations in her ruling, including
upholding the legitimacy of Holocaust revisionism and declaring that all
of Israel is land 'stolen from another people.'
On November 8, 2008, Prof. Alan Dershowitz of Harvard University blasted
Naddaf's ruling in the Jerusalem Post. He attacked the verdict as a gross
violation of Plaut's freedom of speech and stated: 'It is my opinion that
Neve Gordon has gotten into bed with neo-Nazis, Holocaust justice deniers,
and anti-Semites. He is a despicable example of a self-hating Jew and a
self-hating Israeli.' Dershowitz also invited Gordon to file a libel suit
against him similar to what Gordon had filed against Plaut. Gordon never
Naddaf's ruling was strongly criticized as biased and antidemocratic in
articles all over the world. Plaut.s lawyer suggested that Gordon had
filed his SLAPP suit in Nazareth court solely because he knew many Arab
judges sat on the bench there and was hoping to get a radical anti-Israeli
Arab to hear the case. Naddaf awarded Gordon nearly 100,000 shekels
(currently almost $30,000) in compensation and costs for what she
considered 'libelous' in Plaut's criticisms of him.
Plaut filed an appeal against the ruling, which under Israeli law must be
filed in the same district court as the first legal round (Nazareth).
Gordon also filed his own appeal in which he demanded far greater
compensation for his supposed 'injury,' even though he had never
demonstrated any material damages from Plaut's criticisms of him. Gordon
also demanded that the court coerce Plaut into publishing a public
The appeals court completely rejected every single demand made by Gordon
and his lawyer, Fareed Ghanam, in their appeal. It accepted every single
point except one made by Plaut in his appeal, overturning the Naddaf
ruling. It ruled, however, by a two-to-one majority that Plaut's
description of Gordon and his comrades as 'Judenrat wannabes' was not
permissible speech, even though Plaut was criticizing criminal behavior by
The court ruled that Gordon had lied when he claimed Plaut had called him
a 'Jew for Hitler' and a 'Holocaust denier,' and the appeals judges
repeatedly reproved Naddaf for erroneously ignoring the fact that Gordon
lied in those statements. It ruled that Plaut's descriptions of Gordon.s
academic record as consisting largely of anti-Israeli hate propaganda
misrepresented as scholarship were entirely legitimate.
The court also ruled that sarcastic and harsh criticism of leftist
anti-Israeli radicals is protected speech, thus defeating the entire
rationale for Gordon.s SLAPP suit. It ordered Gordon to return 90% of the
'damages' the lower court had awarded him, but allowed him to retain
10,000 shekels as compensation because two of the three appeals judges
thought this would deter the use of Holocaust-era imagery in public
political debate in Israel.
Throughout the appeals verdict, the panel of three judges vividly
described Gordon's anti-Israeli writings, including his articles
describing Israel as a fascist, Nazi-like, apartheid state. (Gordon
recently publicly called for a 'one-state solution' in which Israel would
cease to exist, though did so too late to be included in the judges.
ruling.) Although Plaut had repeatedly characterized Gordon, in the media
and in his court defense, as an open anti-Semite, the judges saw nothing
objectionable in this. One judge, Avraham Avraham, ruled that even if
Plaut had indeed called Gordon a 'Jew for Hitler,' there would have been
nothing unsound in Plaut's having done so.
The decision to reverse only 90% of the damages, rather than 100%, was
based entirely on an Israeli Supreme Court decision last year in which the
editor of the daily Maariv, Amnon Dankner, was ordered to pay a single
shekel in damages to a right-wing extremist, Itamar Ben Gvir, because
Dankner had called Ben Gvir a 'little Nazi' on television. That ruling,
written by the controversial Judge Ayala Procaccia, a radical proponent of
'judicial activism,' claimed that the courts should attempt to suppress
'impolite' public rhetoric that makes use of Holocaust-era imagery. The
Nazareth appeals court claimed it left the 10% in damages for the same
'The Israeli judicial system has been very weak in defending freedom of
speech for those who do not belong to the Far Left,' said Plaut in
response. 'Moreover, the filing of SLAPP suits to harass and silence
political opponents and critics has not been reined in at all, endangering
Israeli democracy. In my court case, we saw a politically biased,
lower-court Arab judge attempt to inject her political support for a
radical leftist into Israeli case law and muzzle Israeli freedom of
speech. The next item on the country's judicial agenda must be the removal
of Judge Reem Naddaf from the bench before she can do any more harm.'
Plaut went on: 'This is a near-complete victory for those who think that
all in Israel, and not only the seditious far Left, should be entitled to
freedom of speech. It is unfortunate that the appeals court balked from
going the extra few centimeters and ruling that the pro-terror political
activities of a radical may be legitimately denounced even using
Holocaust-era terminology. The greatest hypocrisy in Israel is that
far-Left Jews and extremist Arabs denounce Israel and Zionism as Nazism
and genocidal and this is always protected speech, but denunciations of
those same extremists are not.'
Regarding the small residual payment the court declined to refund to him,
Plaut quipped, 'Henceforth Neve Gordon will be intimately linked in
Israel.s legal system with far-rightist Ben Gvir as the two comrades who
legally snipped the margins of free speech in Israel. In the
Procaccia-Ben Gvir ruling the Supreme Court ordered Dankner to pay a
single shekel in compensation when calling someone a 'little Nazi.' We may
be appealing to Israel's Supreme Court to overturn the undemocratic
'Another loser in all this is Ben-Gurion University,' adds Plaut. 'It is
now clear to all that parts of Ben-Gurion University have followed a
policy of hiring and promoting anti-Israeli radicals on the basis of
turning out hate propaganda and misrepresenting it as scholarship.
Academic standards have been trashed in some departments of that
university. My near-complete court victory will only produce escalated
exposure and criticism of Israel's academic fifth column and of the
failure of Israeli universities to enforce academic standards when it
comes to anti-Israeli extremists.'
P. David Hornik is a freelance writer and translator living in Tel Aviv.
He blogs at http://pdavidhornik.typepad.com/. He can be reached at
2. Too little, too late: The End of the "Guilty Israeli":
3. The Momma of all Mistranslations:
4. Why Israel needs the Gallows:
Arab Israelis say 'Stop the Zionazi'
JPost.com Staff , THE JERUSALEM POST Mar. 4, 2008
Approximately a thousand Arab Israelis marched in the Arab town of Umm
el-Fahm on Monday evening chanting slogans such as "With spirit and blood
we will liberate you, o Palestine," "Israel is the mother of terror,"
"Israel is a terror state" and even "Stop the Zionazi" in protest of the
IDF's Operation Hot Winter in the Gaza Strip over the weekend.
Several of the participants were masked and many of them carried
Palestinian and Syrian flags. Arab MKs there blasted Israel for the Gaza
Balad Chairman MK Jamal Zahalka said that the Arab community was
infuriated with the government for perpetrating "war crimes" in Gaza.
"We must put an end to the insanity of [Prime Minister Ehud] Olmert and
[Defense Minister Ehud] Barak," he said. "If they continue to refuse a
cease-fire it must be forced upon them to spare the blood of the
Hadash Chairman MK Muhammad Barakei claimed that "the demonstration is in
protest of an operation that has presumably ended and in protest of the
catastrophic plans of the prime minister and the defense minister.
"The Arab public will not remain silent," Barakei warned. "This is just
one in a string of demonstrations that have been held across the country
since Friday. We are sensing that there is unrest within the
Arab-Palestinian community in Israel."
5. Even Haaretz has to fess up:
Independent expert: IDF bullets didn't kill Mohammed al-Dura
By Adi Schwartz
A report presented to a French court last week by an independent
ballistics expert maintains that the death of Mohammed al-Dura, a
Palestinian child seen being shot in the Gaza Strip during the first day
of the intifada in September 2000, could not have been the result of
Israeli gunfire, corroborating claims that the shocking footage was
The ballistics expert, Jean-Claude Schlinger, presented his
conclusions after reviewing the footage, which shows Dura and his father
cowering by a wall after being caught in the crossfire between Palestinian
gunmen and Israel Defense Forces soldiers at the Netzarim junction.
The case revolves around a libel suit brought by the France 2
television channel and its Middle East correspondent, Charles Enderlin,
against Phillipe Karsenty. On November 22, 2004 Karsenty wrote on his Web
site, Media Ratings, that Dura's death had been staged and that France 2's
conduct "disgraces France and its public broadcasting system."
A few weeks later France 2 and Enderlin sued him for libel. In
October 2006 Karsenty was found guilty and was required to pay symbolic
damages of 1 euro (and 3,000 euros in court costs).
Karsenty appealed. The judge asked to examine all of the film
footage in the report of the shooting before rendering a verdict.
On Saturday, Enderlin rejected Schlinger's findings, arguing that
"only partial evidence was given to him for evaluation."
In his report, Schlinger wrote, "If Jamal [the boy's father] and
Mohammed al-Dura were indeed struck by shots, then they could not have
come from the Israeli position, from a technical point of view, but only
from the direction of the Palestinian position."
He also wrote, "In view of the general context, and in light of
many instances of staged incidents, there is no objective evidence that
the child was killed and his father injured. It is very possible,
therefore, that it is a case [in which the incident was] staged."
Schlinger confirmed these statements in a telephone conversation
Schlinger has served as an adviser on ballistic and forensic
evidence in French courts for 20 years.
In his examination, he recreated the incident emphasizing the
angle from which the shots could have been fired, the types of injuries
and the types of weapons used by the IDF and the Palestinians.
According to his report, there is no evidence that the boy was
wounded in his right leg or in his abdomen, as was originally reported.
Regarding the injuries reportedly suffered by the father,
Schlinger wrote that "If the injuries are genuine, they could not have
occurred at the time of the events that television channel France 2
Regarding the angle of the shots, Schlinger wrote, "Assuming that
the shots came from the Israeli position, only the lower limbs could have
been hit, because the rest of the body was protected by the house at the
This is the first time that an independent ballistics expert, not
representing the State of Israel, undertook to examine Karsenty's claims.
6. Jihad in Phila: http://www.jewishexponent.com/article/15465/