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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Judith Miller writes in City Journal on running defense against Islamic groups' libel suits (mentions the Islamic Society of Boston): A SLAPP Against Freedom

...Last May, the Islamic Society of Boston dropped its suit against the Boston Herald, a local Fox news channel, journalist Steven Emerson, and 14 others. The Society had accused the defendants of libel and of infringing its civil rights by claiming that it had funded terrorist organizations, received money from Saudi Arabia, and bought land for a mosque below market value from the City of Boston.

Though Massachusetts’s anti-SLAPP law does not cover media firms, ten of the non-media defendants filed a motion to quash the Society’s suit. When a state judge rejected the motion, a legal discovery process got under way while the defendants appealed. Bank records and other documents revealed that, contrary to its claims, the Society had raised over $7 million from Saudi and other Middle Eastern sources and had funded two groups that the Bush administration has designated terrorist entities: the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development and the Benevolence International Foundation. Records also showed that Society directors had deleted all e-mails about the Society’s land purchase. Finally, discovery revealed that the deputy director of the Boston city agency in charge of negotiating the land deal not only was a Society member whom it had paid to raise money in the Middle East, but also secretly advised the group about obtaining the land cheaply—a clear conflict of interest.

On May 29, soon after the state appellate court heard arguments on the anti-SLAPP appeal, the Society abandoned the suit. Though its lawyers did not respond to requests for comment and its website tried to put a good face on the surrender, Jeff Robbins, who represented several defendants in the complex lawsuit, expressed their belief that the Society had caved, fearing the prospect of paying what could have been millions of dollars in court and legal fees. “The anti-SLAPP motion clearly played a role,” said Robbins, who represented two clients for free because First Amendment issues were involved. Another factor, he said, was the Society’s fear that the court would order it to answer questions under oath and release information that it had tried to keep secret, such as the names of its donors. The case shows that while anti-SLAPP legislation makes it somewhat easier, cheaper, and faster for those accused of libel to fight back, “it doesn’t solve the problem entirely,” said Jeff Hermes, a lawyer for the Boston Herald. “Media companies are not covered by our state’s statute, and defendants in such cases still need to prepare a full defense.”...



3 Comments

The MAS, new rulers of the ISB, are still going around town claiming that the lawsuit was a "victory" for the ISB. This from a description of recent Friday prayers in Malden (held inside a church):

"The speaker was Mr. Alewa, a MAS (Muslim American Society) member. He was the first person to arrive. He sat serenely in the front row, while people filled the rows behind him. The Athan was called shortly and the Imam started his Khutba. He started talking about the ISB victory in settling the lawsuit over the Roxbury mosque project despite the scarce resources and how it wouldn’t have been possible without the help and support of other non-Muslim communities and groups especially the Jewish group Workmen’s Circle."

http://www.maccaonline.org/MACCA/khutba.aspx

thought you might be interested in posting my op-ed in yesterday's Seattle Post-Intelligencer


SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER
http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/opinion/334828_brumerisrael10.html

Despite concerns, Israel a vibrant country

Last updated October 9, 2007 5:08 p.m. PT

By DAVID BRUMER
GUEST COLUMNIST

Having just spent the past three weeks in Israel, I'm happy to report that, rumors to the contrary, Israel is alive and well and thriving.

Israel is a country about the size of New Jersey. Space is at a premium, and so is security for this small expanse of land. That was brought home to me during a three-hour "Intellicopter Tour" around the country, provided by The Israel Project, an international non-profit that educates the media and the public about Israel.

We took off from Herzilya airport, on the Mediterranean coast just north of Tel Aviv. Flying east, we were at the edge of the West Bank within minutes, hovering over Tulkarm and Qalqilya. Unknown to most Westerners is the fact that at this latitude, Israel's waist is at its most narrow, spanning just nine miles (several miles less than the distance from the University of Washington to Microsoft in Redmond).

The coastal plain, where 80 percent of Israelis live, is literally minutes by foot from the West Bank. From the skies, it is much easier to understand why Israel started construction of its Security Barrier in 2002, a year that saw 450 Israeli deaths attributable to terrorism. Often referred to as the Wall, more than 95 percent of the 800-kilometer barrier, when completed, will actually be constructed of chain-link fence.

In Qalqilya, the barrier is in fact a concrete wall. This is because Qalqilya sits on a hill above Highway 6, a major north-south artery for Israelis, and until the construction of the wall there, Israeli motorists were vulnerable to Palestinian snipers. The majority of the concrete portion of the barrier is in Jerusalem, where a fence would be impractical in such a densely populated locale, given that the fence requires a buffer zone on either side for motion detection and army patrols. Contrary to conventional wisdom, the barrier has been enormously successful in stopping terrorism and saving lives. In areas where the security barrier is completed, attacks are down 90 percent.

Flying southwest from Jerusalem, we touched down in Sderot, a development town in the south, only a few kilometers away from the Gazan border. Sderot has borne the brunt of the Qassam missile attacks, with more than 2,000 landing after Israel's full withdrawal from Gaza in August 2005. Although unsophisticated and inaccurate, the Qassams are a very effective weapon of terrorism for the precise reason of their unpredictability. And when on target, they are deadly weapons. The newer Qassams have a range of up to 12 kilometers (7.5 miles), putting the Ashkelon Power Plant in their sights. To date, Israel has not come up with an adequate response, in part, because to strike back at the launching sites would endanger Palestinian civilian lives, something Israel is loath to do.

I came away from the helicopter tour with a renewed appreciation for the security dilemmas Israel faces, especially with the radical Islamists of Hamas now holding the full reins of power in Gaza, and vying for control of the West Bank. To see with one's own eyes the very real security risks that this tiny country faces (not to mention the threats on the northern borders from Hezbollah and Syria, compounded by Iran's long-range missile capabilities and nuclear ambitions) gives one pause.

Israel must balance her citizenry's security needs with ordinary Palestinians' human rights. And Israel's Supreme Court has on several occasions overruled military dictates, for example when the security barrier has been deemed encroaching on Palestinian villages.

Despite those concerns, Israel remains a vibrant, prosperous society. Construction is booming, the high-tech sector is burgeoning and people are out at parks, beaches, cafes and cultural centers.

From the magnificent Baha'i Gardens in Haifa (home to the holiest shrine in the Baha'i faith) to the Druze village of Daliat al-Carmel to the streets of Rehovot (home of the world-class Weizmann Institute for Scientific Research), Israelis of all ethnicities and amazingly diverse backgrounds are dancing, studying, dining and doing it all with a great zest for life.

It is said that great wines are produced from vines that are most stressed and must dig deep into the Earth's surface in search of nourishment. The few grapes those vines produce make the finest of wines. And so it is with Israel, a people who must dig deeply within their greatest resource -- themselves -- to meet the prodigious challenges that this amazing land presents, and in so doing create the modern miracle that is Israel.


---
David Brumer is a geriatric social worker and psychotherapist. Visit his blog, BRUMSPEAK, at brumspeak.blogspot.com, for more in-depth dispatches from Israel, September 2007.

© 1998-2007 Seattle Post-Intelligencer


So good I'm surprised they printed it, David!

"Syme: It's a beautiful thing, the destruction of words. You wouldn't have seen the [Newspeak] Dictionary 10th edition, would you Smith? It's that thick. [illustrates thickness with fingers] The 11th Edition will be that [narrows fingers] thick. Winston Smith: So, The Revolution will be complete when the language is perfect? Syme: The secret is to move from translation, to direct thought, to automatic response. No need for self-discipline. Language coming from here [the larynx], not from here [the brain]" -1984 (film)


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