Sunday, September 9, 2007

Chicken University Press, Part 2 of 2

Continuing from Part 1 with The true cost of libel:

While he has so far been successful in the UK courts, bin Mahfouz may not find things so easy in the United States, where the First Amendment provides more protection for books such as Alms for Jihad. The American Library Association had already refused to comply with CUP’s request to return copies for pulping. The ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom told members: ‘Libraries are considered to hold title to the individual copy or copies. Given the intense interest in the book, and the desire of readers to learn about the controversy firsthand, we recommend that US libraries keep the book available for their users.’

All bin Mahfouz has done is call attention to himself.

Meanwhile, on this side of the Atlantic, a modern-day David has appeared to battle this terrorist-funding Saudi Goliath.

This may only be the beginning of bin Mahfouz’s American problems: Dr Rachel Ehrenfeld, author of Funding Evil: How Terrorism is financed, was sued by bin Mahfouz in the UK in 2004. She chose not to contest the case, refusing to acknowledge the court’s jurisdiction over a book which was being published in the US (only 23 copies ever made it to the UK). Consequently, the London court issued the first ever declaration of falsehood in a case that had not been contested by a judge and jury. Judge Eady ruled that Ehrenfeld should apologise to bin Mahfouz, pay damages and costs of $225,000, and destroy the book. Instead, Ehrenfeld is planning to contest the case in a US court, on the basis that the ‘English default judgement is unenforceable in the United States and repugnant to the First Amendment.’

The New York Second Court of Appeals seems to think Ehrenfeld could have a point, and in June ruled that the case should be heard, possibly as early as autumn of this year.

Laurence Harris says that bin Mahfouz will argue the appeal through his US attorneys.

But Robert O Collins points out: ‘Just as CUP did not have a snowball's chance in hell of winning a long and costly suit in the English courts, it is doubtful that the good sheikh will come after us or Dr Ehrenfeld in the US courts where we are protected by the First Amendment, historical precedent [and] the recent unanimous decision of the 2nd NY Court of appeals.’

Meanwhile, answering critics on the Bookseller’s website, Kevin Taylor hinted at his company’s own difficulties with UK law, pointing out that ‘Cambridge University Press is not in business to do ideological battle but to act responsibly as a publisher of scholarly material. It would not be a responsible use of our resources, nor in the interests of any of our scholarly authors, to attempt to defend a legal action [in this case] ... we are a global publisher with a duty to observe the laws of many different countries.’

Cambridge University Press had two fine, scholarly authors, whose work had been reviewed prior to publication, and Cambridge University Press chickened out.

Chicken University Press

But, Dr. Rachel Ehrenfeld of The American Center for Democracy and her publisher, Bonus Books, aren't going down so easy.

Returning now to The Washington Times article:

Miss Ehrenfeld, who is director of the New York-based American Center for Democracy, an anti-terrorism think tank, is disappointed — but not surprised — by Cambridge's capitulation. Declaring "Cambridge has defamed" authors Burr and Collins, she says, "Maybe American authors shouldn't publish with Cambridge University Press."

The ramifications go beyond the issue of freedom of speech and the press. "I know other authors whose book proposals have been rejected by publishers because they dealt with Saudi Arabia and Saudis," she says. "This is part of the jihad against us, silencing us so we don't know what's going on."

Miss Ehrenfeld is taking an aggressive approach: She's sued Mr. Mahfouz in a New York federal court, seeking a declaration that the British judgment is not enforceable here. She lost the first round, but an appeals court unanimously ruled in June that the case is ripe for hearing, and arguments should be heard this fall.

The author also has a more supportive publisher in Bonus Books. President Jeffrey Stern thinks Cambridge should have stood behind its writers. "To throw authors under the bus as quickly as they did based on a form letter from his lawyers is reprehensible and contributing to the larger problem, which is the ability of someone with deep pockets to, in effect, censor the media," he says.

Dr. Ehrenfeld's website is The American Center for Democracy; go there and learn about her case, and, while you are there, make a donation to her counterjihad.

Don't forget to stop in at Bonus Books to buy a copy of Dr. Ehrenfeld's book, and while you are there, thank them for having some guts and some integrity.

Journalists and authors do a public service with their investigative reporting. If the U.S. had libel laws like Britain's, he says, scandals like that of Enron would never have been revealed. The frightening implications of this case are so obvious, he says, "I'm appalled by the mainstream media's absolute refusal to talk about this."

Perhaps there's a reason big papers like the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post haven't mentioned the "Alms for Jihad" case: All three have settled with Mr. Mahfouz in the past.

The Mainstream Media in our country is pathetic.

They have a Constitutionally-guaranteed right to Freedom of the Press, but with that right, bought and paid for by the sacrifices of Americans, comes a responsibility, and that is a responsibility that the Mainstream Media in our country abandon quite quickly when the going gets tough.

Neither does the MSM approach too closely to the Sibel Edmonds case.

Mr. Mahfouz may have won the first round, but the battle is not over. Cambridge sent a letter to about 300 libraries worldwide, asking them to remove "Alms for Jihad" from their shelves.

"They're pretty mad," says Mr. Collins of the librarians from whom he's heard. "One in Alaska said she's putting up a big exhibition of banned books."

Mr. Collins is still working with Cambridge, putting the final touches on a history of sub-Saharan Africa. He and Mr. Burr are also collaborating on another book, with the provisional title "Terrorism Internationale: The Popular Arab and Islamic Congress, 1991 and 1995." He probably won't publish that one with Cambridge. "I think this time it would be best if we got an American publisher," he says ruefully.

Before that, he might look for a new publisher for "Alms for Jihad." He says he feels confident he and Mr. Burr can get back the copyright from Cambridge. "I don't want to see what was a very good book and thousands of hours in blood, toil, tears and sweat that went into it suddenly go up in smoke," he says.

There's certainly a market for the title: A copy of the now-rare book sold on EBay last week for $538.

Again, Alms for Jihad is going to be a best-seller, just like Funding Evil by Dr. Ehrenfeld. Just give it time. The first editions of these books will be collectors' items; actually, the first edition of Alms for Jihad already is.

Meanwhile, Dr. Ehrenfeld is going to be available on a worldwide call-in to discuss this issue:

ON SEPTEMBER 16, 2007 at 1 pm (Pacific Daylight Time)

Dr. Ehrenfeld will discuss her book,
Funding Evil,
the banned Alms for Jihad,
and her legal battle to defend and protect freedom of speech.
There will be a question and answer period.
This is a one-hour event. See world clock for your local time:
To receive your CALL IN NUMBER, please register by sending an email to
The CALL IN NUMBER will be emailed to registrants on September 12th.

Visit Dr. Ehrenfeld's website The American Center for Democracy and make a donation for the counterjihad.

Hat tip to my email tipsters.


Aurora said...

This woman is absolute dynamite. Don't you love her fighting spirit? I'm going to have to write another post on her and link to your comprehensive outline here. Maybe tomorrow.

Yankee Doodle said...

Yeah, she sure is! Another post about her would be a good thing.

You want another woman with fighting spirit, who's dynamite, try researching Sibel Edmonds.