Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Libel tourism and the American press

In 2000, Deborah Lipstadt became a victim of libel tourism. Her book Denying the Holocaust exposed various historians as frauds. One who fought her was David Irving, a prominent Holocaust denier from the UK who stood upon his reputation as a military historian in an attempt to rewrite Holocaust history by minimizing Hitler's role, reinventing a false death toll that was merely a fraction of the number of people killed by the Nazi genocide and promulgating a view that the Nazi genocide was neither a true genocide nor the state-created mechanical process for abusing and killing humans that it truly was. Irving was, and remains, a liar.

The UK does not have a First Amendment, nor a Supreme Court that balances the rights in favor of the speaker over the subject of the speech. Instead, in the UK, a libel defendant must prove the truth of his assertion and is subject to UK law even on the most tenuous jurisdictional grounds. Irving sued Lipstadt in the UK for libel and damages. She cleaned his clock.

But not every publisher (Penguin, in Lipstadt's case) is brave enough to fight for truth in the English courts, nor is every statement (exposing Nazi-sympathizing Holocaust deniers) deemed worthy of fighting for. Thus, Cambridge University Press caved into pressure by Sheikh
Khalid Salim bin Mahfouz, a terrorist financier (just ask former Clinton Administration counterterrorism expert Richard Clarke), to pull Alms for Jihad instead of fighting a libel suit. Cambridge didn't deign to tell the authors before it caved in.

So kudos to Dr. Rachel Ehrenfeld, author of
Funding Evil: How Terrorism is Financed -- and How to Stop It, for fighting against a British default judgment Mahfouz obtained against her (the book is not published in the UK, so she refused to recognize its jurisdiction) and suing Mahfouz in New York for a declaratory judgment that the British ruling cannot be enforced.

Andy McCarthy has details of the Sheikh's strategy and Dr. Ehrenfeld's fight.

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