Saturday, December 15, 2007

Strangely Quiet


I fixed a couple of typos and made the paragraph format more obvious; the red letters in the opening are red in the original.


US media interest in the ground-breaking defamation case of Ehrenfeld v Mahfouz that's been playing out in American courts has been minimal to say the least, but interest is slowly increasing, particularly now that Middle Eastern interests are beginning to buy America.

This is significant.

Several weeks ago the New York State Court of Appeals began hearing arguments in a defamation case with far-reaching implications, especially for freedom of the press and publishing.

Essentially the decision of the Court of Appeals will affect whether foreign defamation judgments rendered against US citizens may be enforced in the US if the judgments are at odds with the US constitution and American public policy.

It could go beyond that. It could mean that these guys will begin to be held financially accountable in the US for their support for terrorism, far beyond anything that is currently being done. That might make certain Middle Eastern interests far more reluctant to do business in America, knowing that even their legal jihad could come back to haunt them, and their assets could be in jeopardy. (Heh....)

The case revolves around the differences in libel or defamation legislation in the UK and the US.

It is easier to gain an advantageous libel ruling in the UK and, according to Elizabeth Samson of the Jewish Week in the US this inequality has resulted in an onslaught of defamation litigation brought in courts in England.

She describes England as "a country infamous for its libel tourism and notoriously known as the libel capital of the Western world. The personally aggrieved of the globe bring their cases to England to sue foreigners, including many Americans, and win. Consequently, the libel tourist easily silences his critics and suppresses the free flow of ideas."

One of the most frequent tourists litigants on the UK libel circuit is Saudi Arabia's Sheikh Khalid Salim bin Mahfouz, a former president and ceo of the National Commerce Bank of Saudi Arabia.

Sheikh Khalid Salim bin Mahfouz, Financier of Holy Terror and Libel Terrorist -- see link in sidebar.

He has sued or threatened to sue in the UK approximately 36 writers and publishers for libel – and of course can afford it.

But the sheikh has now taken on Rachel Ehrenfeld, a dual Israeli and American citizen and the author of the book, Funding Evil: How Terrorism is Financed – and How to Stop It.

To understand Sheikh bin Mahfouz going after Dr. Ehrenfeld, you need to imagine something along the lines of Elmer Fudd hunting Bugs Bunny.

Mahfouz sued Ehrenfeld for libel in the UK over allegations in the book, but Ehrenfeld, whose book was neither published nor distributed in the UK, refused to participate in the trial.

The British court judged against her, awarding Mahfouz US$225,900 in damages and expenses and ordering her to publicly apologise and destroy her book.

It is important to note that Sheikh bin Mahfouz only won by default, because Dr. Ehrenfeld wisely realized the deck was stacked against her -- that's why Sheikh bin Mahfouz filed his lawsuit in the UK and not in the US.

Ehrenfeld then took brought her case before an American court seeking a declaration that Mahfouz could not prevail on a libel claim against Ehrenfeld under the laws of New York and the US, and arguing that the judgment in the English case is not enforceable in the US.

She has guided her case through the court system, and now it is about to be
determined in New York State Court of Appeals.

Elizabeth Samson sums up the situation writing, "The consequence of such litigation now threatens to cast a permanent grey cloud over the US, and our proud history of investigative journalism, as well as future undertakings. If the Court of Appeals rejects Ehrenfeld's claim, the loss will set a very dangerous precedent. It will send the message to writers that the constitution cannot safeguard against a foreign judgment that is deeply at odds with the traditional American values that guarantee the right of free expression."

The saga is now taking on a conspiratorial air with the Saudis deemed to be carrying out "financial jihad" against the US.

Or imagine, perhaps, Tweety saying "I taught I taw a puddy-tat!" (For my non-native speakers of English, Tweety-bird in the cartoons talks kind of funny -- the sentence is "I thought I saw a pussy-cat!")

But American mainstream media has shied away from giving much publicity to Dr Rachel Ehrenfeld's stand.

Ehrenfeld, who is a director of the American Center for Democracy, was asked by Frontpage Interview, "Why do you think your case has not reached the mainstream media?"

Ehrenfeld replied, "There is no logical explanation. Except that maybe they are afraid of offending the Saudis, in which case, it would further evidence my point..."

Fear is perfectly logical... isn't it?

"Apparently, Saudi influence on the media, politics and business interests is so pervasive that only the most courageous and honourable professionals, colleagues and friends have stood by me. Others keep a silent distance, and some even try to harm me."

Ehrenfeld finished the interview by saying, "One of the most important foundations of American Democracy is freedom of the press. Bin Mahfouz's libel suits are an important part of an enormous campaign to severely curtail press and media willingness and ability to freely investigate and report the great financial powers diligently working to destroy our nation and indeed the entire Western civilisation."

From MediaBlab by Peter Olszewski

Our society has become shallow, dumbed down in our schools and distracted by all sorts of superficialities... our freedom is defended by a few dedicated patriots like Dr. Rachel Ehrenfeld.

I think that's part of what interests me so much about Rachel's story. In a way, it is so like Sibel Edmonds' story. In both cases, the media should be screaming and the public should be protesting and demanding action, yet so many in the public don't know, and the media is strangely quiet, as the heroes fight to keep from being legally prevented from saying what they know.

But is that tomb-like silence that blankets the topic merely a deceptive calm before the storm?

Go to Dr. Ehrenfeld's website, learn about her work, including her legal counterjihad, and make a contribution if you can.

If you don't want to read about the legal battle, you can watch the movie instead.

Hat tip to my email tipster.


Aurora said...

The public knowledge of libel tourism is gathering momentum. After only seeing it on your blog and one or two others, I'm now seeing it crop up in quite a few places. Good thing. I hope it makes its way into the MSM, but no doubt it would have to hit them in the face first.

WomanHonorThyself said...

hiya YD!..brave of u to keep up this fight..btw..the comments on my last post got deleted by can re-post if u wish hun!:)