|Down Goes Another SLAPP Suit |
|by Steven Plaut|
February 16, 2005
You may recall Professor Moshe Zimmerman, from the Hebrew University, as one of Israel's worst far-leftists and "post-Zionists". Zimmerman is a professor of German history who has a passionate hatred for "settlers". He denounced Jewish settlers as "Hitlerjugend" and also compared Israeli troops to Nazis. It would be hard to find a better reason for not making any financial donations to the Hebrew University.
Anyway, it seems that Herr Zimmerman decided a few years back to file a SLAPP suit against Israel's leading daily, Yediot Aharonot. A SLAPP suit is a malicious anti-democratic "libel" suit filed as an attempt to deny free speech and suppress the free expression of one's critics through legal harassment. SLAPP stands for Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation. SLAPP suits are prohibited in many parts of the US and there are serious penalties in the law for those who try to use them.
Zimmerman was suing the paper because the paper had the nerve to report truthfully Zimmerman's comments about settlers and soldiers being "Nazis". Zimmerman claimed these comments were reported by the paper "out of context," as if there could be any proper context in which they would not be outrageous. So, he filed a 1.2 million shekel suit against the newspaper. In the first week of February, the suit was thrown out of Tel Aviv District Court by Judge Anat Brun. She not only dismissed the suit as frivolous, but she hit Zimmerman with court costs. In her ruling, she went out of her way to denounce Zimmerman's malicious SLAPP tactic.
Now, as you know, Zimmerman's is not even the most outrageous attempt by an anti-Zionist or anti-Semitic faculty member to use the courts in Israel as an anti-democratic harassment tool for suppressing free speech. An even more malicious and ridiculous SLAPP suit was filed against me by Neve Gordon, an anti-Semitic lecturer in political science at Ben-Gurion University. A ruling in that suit is expected soon. Gordon routinely denounces Israel as a fascist, apartheid terrorist state.
In his harassment SLAPP suit against me, Gordon claimed he was "libeled" by me because I criticized articles he published, including those by him that were published in anti-Semitic and neo-Nazi web magazines. He believes any criticism of his extremist views is "libel". This is the same Gordon who libeled his own army commander, calling him a war criminal in an article published all over the globe; the same Gordon who routinely denounces all politicians in Israel from the Right and the Left as murderers and war criminals, while insisting that Yasser Arafat was not a murderer!
I also criticized Gordon's illegal and criminal political activities when he entered Ramallah as part of a group of "solidarity protesters", who were displaying their solidarity with PLO terrorists, and to interfere with Israeli military anti-terror operations going on at the time. Arafat was hiding wanted murderers, including the assassins of an Israeli cabinet minister, in his offices. Gordon was shown in two Israeli dailies the next day grasping Arafat's paw in affectionate solidarity and support for Arafat's refusal to turn over the murderers. Gordon does not deny engaging in these illegal activities. In fact, he is proud of them. He did so as part of an extremist leftist Arab-Jewish group in Israel calling itself Ta'ayush, which was recently described by Maariv as a violent anti-Israel pro-terror seditious criminal organization.
Everything I had written about Gordon concerned his public political activities and articles, and everything I wrote was factually correct and documented in the Israeli media. Gordon did not deny writing any of the articles I criticized, including those of his that were published in the Nazi "Zundelsite" and on pro-terror, Islamic fundamentalist, pro-Al-Qaeda web sites. Gordon claimed falsely I had called him a Holocaust denier. In fact, I had claimed he was a groupie of the world's leading Jewish Holocaust denier, Norman Finkelstein (Gordon had compared Finkelstein ethically to the Prophets in the Bible in some of his columns). Gordon later admitted to the court that this claim against me had been a lie - although it is a lie still carried on his personal web page.
The defeat of Zimmerman's attempt to recruit the Israeli courts as a weapon against free speech does not auger well for Gordon's even more anti-democratic "suit".