Thursday, July 06, 2006

Steven Plaut Eats Words, Pays Out $20,000

I don't know how this one slipped under my radar, but here goes...

About three weeks ago, Haifa University professor Steven Plaut was found guilty of committing libel against Professor Neve Gordon of Ben-Gurion University.

OK, whatever. A libel suit half way around the world (from me, anyway -- the other three guys on this blog are considerably closer). So why is this relevant to this blog?

Because Plaut had called Gordon, among other things, a Holocaust denier, which he decidedly is not. He also called him a "fanatic anti-Semite" and a "Nazi wannabe," but Gordon said he decided to sue Plaut when the denier smear came back at him. Thus the relevance.

"Once someone is labeled as a Holocaust denier that person becomes illegitimate, and rightly so," Gordon said. "Israeli society tolerates a relatively wide range of political views and that is why Plaut had to resort to this Holocaust mechanism to try to shut me down."

He's right, of course. Oh, and by the by, Gordon is also a disabled Israeli combat veteran.

So why would Plaut say such inflammatory things? Well, for one thing, he's a robo-Zionist who is violently opposed to the creation of a Palestinian state. In Plaut's world, any person who supports a Palestinian state must be an anti-Semite, and any Jew who does so must be self-loathing. Gordon had struck up a friendship with anti-Israel shill Norman Finkelstein and had been a very visible supporter of Yasir Arafat, which, granted, doesn't say much for Gordon's choice of friends and acquaintances, and this apparently was enough guilt by association to earn Gordon a reaming from Plaut.

Now Plaut et al. on the right are attacking Gordon for filing his suit in Nazareth, Israel's largest Arab city, in hoping to get an Arab judge, which he got. And she ruled well, in my opinion, as cultivating a reputation for your enemies as Holocaust deniers when they are not is beyond the pale -- something no one should ever do. That a Jew did this to another Jew makes it all the more disgusting.

If I could ask Plaut one question, I suppose it would be this one: Dr. Plaut, don't you think it's dangerous to call people anti-Semites, Nazis, and Holocaust deniers who aren't, given the risk that when real Jew-haters appear on the scene, Jews in general are far less likely to be taken seriously because you've cried wolf once too often?

Or maybe a shorter version of that question. But you get the picture.


Sergey Romanov said...

Andrw, what do you think about this alleged excerpt from the judge's opinion:


At times we are witness to the phenomenon in which some people “dare” to re-examine the Holocaust and its dimensions, from various aspects, whether it be the human, historic, scientific, political, etc., and where such people automatically are turned into objects for attack and accusations of being anti-Semites and Holocaust Deniers, deserving of being called Judenrat or Jews for Hitler.

The phenomenon is reinforced when factual data or opinions or theories about the Holocaust are presented that happen to differ from those published about it to date or which deviate from the prevailing consensus.

This phenomenon is not understandable or justified, in my opinion, and contradicts the principles of democracy, which should stand fast, especially in those debates in which stormy public opinion re-examines such sensitive and painful subjects.

The freedom to think, form an opinion, to investigate and re-examine any historic event are basic elements in the world of democracy, and, if we strip them from anyone, we empty them of meaning.

It is impossible and improper to turn the Holocaust into some sort of “taboo” subject, about which people may not comment, think beyond, investigate, or analyze unless it is within the framework of the consensus and the “permissible,” as the defendant claims.


Andrew E. Mathis said...

Not having read the entire verdict, which, by law, must be rendered in Hebrew, I can't comment. I suspect that that the robo-Zionist press cherry-picked their quotes.

She makes a strong statement about free speech, however, and that I like.