The Committee to Protect Bloggers writes about the latest troubles facing anti-Israel blogger Richard Silverstein.
A libel case filed by Rachel Neuwirth goes to trial this week over an online post in which Silverstein had referred to Neuwirth as “a Kahanist swine.”
The judge who had allowed the suit to go forward (you can read the ruling here – Aussie Dave) has lamentably accepted Neuwirth’s problematic claim that the word Kahanist necessarily refers to someone as a member of Kahane Chai, a designated terrorist group in the U.S. and banned in Israel. Kahanism is a word referring to those who espouse views similar to those expressed by the far-right Israeli nationalist Rabbi Meir Kahane.
Silverstein also faces a potential legal attack from David Yerushalmi, it seems, after Yerushalmi realized Silverstein had called him a Jewish white supremacist some years ago for his views, which Yerushalmi had published in in Conservative Voice.
Regarding the latter, Silverstein has seemingly done a really stupid thing (not that this would be the first time).
He posted this letter from Yerushalmi on his site:
I am reluctantly forced to revisit the statements your client, Richard Silverstein, has made about me on his blog. When he first attacked me personally and stated that I was a fascist, racist, and Kahanist, I ignored them, even as others of his ilk provided these baseless statements “legs” allowing countless more “eyes” the opportunity to read what your client understood and represented to be carefully calculated factual statements about me. These statements are demonstrably false and your client made them knowing they were false or acting recklessly in this regard. This recklessness I believe was established in his deposition testimony in the Neuwirth case.
I ignored these publications because your client uses this kind of ad hominem invective on a regular basis and I was just one of many people he attacked personally without any real factual basis.
Unfortunately, your client has republished the original articles via links in a most recent piece stating that I am a white supremacist. I might still have ignored this except for the fact that it has now concretely and specifically injured me in my legal profession in Arizona. I have now lost an African American client who was prepared to retain my firm but for your clients defamatory publications, because he could not afford to be associated with someone accused of such beliefs even though he knows I do not hold these beliefs. Much of his business is in public relations and this charge by your client was for him too much to sustain.
My staff and family have prevailed upon me to sue your client for defamation. Again, I am reluctant given the First Amendment issues, but I believe there is a strong basis to assert that his wholly unfounded, false, and defamatory statements, which have now led to concrete damages that I can measure minimally in excess of $100,000 suggests to me that my staff and family have the better argument.
The suit will be brought in Arizona. An interesting and related case is Yetman v. English, 168 Ariz. 71, 811 P.2d 323 (1991).
I certainly understand your client will raise the standard First Amendment defenses: opinion, hyperbole, no actual malice. If we get past these, your client will have the opportunity to test “truth” as a defense. It is to that end and to that purpose I am now drafting my complaint.
Your client may avoid the suit by deleting all articles published on his blog or other forum that refer to me in the defamatory ways described.
I am providing this to you confidentially. If you client chooses to make this public, and he certainly may, this settlement offer is rescinded.
Law Offices of David Yerushalmi, P.C.:
Washington, D.C., New York, California & Arizona
Silverstein then proceeded to go on the attack, calling Yerushalmi a “bully”, “fraud”, and “Jewish white supremacist” amongst other things.
Curiously enough, while Silverstein’s post appears on the front page of his site (http://richardsilverstein.com/), the post’s URL (http://www.richardsilverstein.com/tikun_olam/2011/03/27/david-yerushalmi-threatens-defamation-lawsuit/) no longer works. Which leads me to believe that Silverstein tried to take the post down, but did not fully succeed.
In case Silverstein does manage to remove the evidence, I have saved the screenshots for posterity (click on images to enlarge]
Here’s hoping that Silverstein learns the hard way that libeling individuals – unlike libeling Israel – has its consequences.