By Canada Free Press | by Gary Reid
Friday, August 18th, 2006 @ 8:05PM
This column is probably more interesting for CFP’s American readers than its Canadian ones, yet it affects us all equally, at least in one regard; the war against Islamic jihadists. It concerns an Israeli-born, American citizen, Dr. Rachel Ehrenfeld, who is the director of the American Center for Democracy. Dr. Ehrenfeld has a distinguished academic background. She was a “Research Scholar at New York University School of Law and Visiting Scholar at Columbia University’s Institute of War and Peace Studies … best-known as a commentator and consultant on political corruption, international money laundering, trans-national organized crime, international terrorism and drug trafficking…” such that “government, law enforcement, academic and banking communities draw regularly upon her work.”
See Here Consider her description of Hezbollah. Some people portray Hezbollah as a quasi-respectable “resistance” organization. They point out that Hezbollah has built schools and hospitals in Lebanon, roads and water treatment plants, provides social services to its members, and has representatives in the Lebanese parliament. To listen to these apologists, one would presume that the well-trained, well-equipped, well-organized, formidable soldiers that Israel just wasted blood and treasure trying to defeat are simply an ancillary aspect of Hezbollah’s charitable undertaking, in the same manner that hospitals require security guards.
The mainstream media (“MSM”) constantly claim that Hezbollah is funded by Iran to the tune of $100 million a year. The MSM never question how Hezbollah could possibly do all that it has done on a mere $100 million. After all, its members are not Scots. In fact, says Dr. Ehrenfeld, Hezbollah’s revenues in 2001 were estimated at approximately six billion dollars. To put that in perspective, it is a larger figure than the annual budgets of about half of Canada’s 10 provinces (and Canada is a member of the G8).
So the question is — where does Hezbollah get its other $5.9 billion? Well, it is not through holding bake sales and used clothing bazaars — it is a criminal organization, according to Dr. Ehrenfeld. For the complete rundown, go to this website, http://www.washtimes.com/op-ed/20060810-084245-5230r.htm, and you will see why her work is important to our understanding of the enemy. She has authored several books in her field. In 2003, she published a book entitled, Funding Evil. And, this is where things began to get difficult for her. She identified a billionaire Arab banker as a conduit for using charitable covers to funnel money to al Qaeda. The banker utilized the British courts to bring a defamation suit against Dr. Ehrenfeld.
Why Britain? The laws on defamation are not the same for all English-speaking, common law countries. In the United States, the laws are very “defendant-friendly”. A plaintiff must prove that the defamatory statements are false, and, if the plaintiff is a public figure (which would likely include this Arab banker), then the plaintiff must also prove that the statements were made out of malice. This is a very steep climb — it is the legal equivalent of climbing Mount Everest. However, Britain, and its Commonwealth members, like Canada, Australia and New Zealand, have “plaintiff-friendly’ procedures. In fact, they are the reverse of the U.S. laws, shifting the onus of the burden of proof and requiring that the defendant prove that the allegations were true.
Furthermore, the developing laws on Internet defamation are also diverging. U.S. courts, naturally enough, look at the intention of the defendant and are inclined to restrict the jurisdiction according to where the defendant’s actions took place. Commonwealth legal systems ask where the damage to the plaintiff occurred and accept jurisdiction on that basis. As a result, Commonwealth courts are open to citizens of any country to use to sue for Internet defamation. Despite the fact that Funding Evil was only published in the United States, about 26 copies made it into the United Kingdom through Internet booksellers. As well, someone posted the first chapter of the book on a U.K. website. That was all it took for the British court to decide it would accept jurisdiction in the matter.
Dr. Ehrenfeld could not have defended the action on its merits since some of her information came from sources that would not be amenable to appearing in court, or could not appear. On legal advice, she declined to recognize the U.K. jurisdiction. As a result, the court awarded a default judgement against her in an amount of $60,000, as well as $180,000 for the legal expenses of the plaintiff. There are agreements amongst countries that allow the reciprocal enforcement of judgements. The problem in this case is that the American courts would either have declined to accept jurisdiction of the matter in the first place, or the plaintiff would have had a great deal of difficulty succeeding, because this case smacks into the First Amendment’s guarantee of free speech. The banker has not yet applied to have the judgment registered in the United States, but reserves the right to do so.
Dr. Ehrenfeld launched an action in the U.S. courts to prevent it being enforced in America. Her brief was supported (morally, not financially) by some publishing and newspaper organizations that would be adversely affected if the banker should succeed. In a twist of irony, her case was dismissed because the court declined to accept jurisdiction. That decision is now being appealed and Dr. Ehrenfeld needs funding assistance to carry through the appeal. More specifics on this issue can be found on the American Center for Democracy’s website, http://www.public-integrity.org/news/ .
Since the United States is the only country in the world that truly exercises free speech, it would be a great blow to the war with Islamic jihadists should a voice like Dr. Ehrenfeld’s be circumscribed by the “libel chill” that pervades Commonwealth countries. Let us hope she raises sufficient funds from right-minded Americans, as well as from American newspaper and publication organs, and succeeds in the appeal court. Hezbollah and Hamas, of course, would have no difficulty funding such a legal action.