A New York State Supreme Court judge has thrown out a $26 million lawsuit against the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith by an extremist political organization and upheld ADL’s right to label the group “anti-Semitic.”
Judge Michael Dontzin granted ADL summary judgement and dismissed the lawsuit filed by the U.S. Labor Party in April, 1979. The suit, following ADL’s denunciation of the anti-Jewish philosophies and associations of the USLP and its leader, Lyndon LaRouche, charged the ADL with defamation, invasion of privacy and assault.
The dismissal was reported today by Seymour Reich, chairman of ADL’s National Civil Rights Committee. He observed that Judge Dontzin agreed with ADL’s position that USLP spokesmen were public figures whose positions were openly disseminated. The court said that “by calling attention to themselves,” LaRouche and his associates had “exposed themselves to challenge, and even to ridicule or denunciation. “
Dontzin, in a 22-page opinion, said that ADL’s characterization of the USLP as anti-Semitic constitutes “fair comment” in view of the group’s “highly critical views about prominent Jewish figures, families and organizations such as ADL and B’nai B’rith.”
BASIS FOR JUDGE’S DECISION
Taking note also of the USLP’s linking of Jews and Jewish organizations with Nazism, fascism, the international drugs trade “and a myriad of purported conspiracies,” Dontzin concluded “the facts of this case reasonably give rise to an inference upon which the ADL can form an honest opinion that the plaintiffs (USLP) are anti-Semitic.”
In upholding continued ADL vigilance against anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry, the judge observed that “ADL did no more than act in accordance with its historic and organizational purpose; that is, to express its opinion and concerns when anti-Semitism appeared and to identify and confront it as such.”
In light of the Holocaust, as well as the history of anti-Semitism, according to the judge, “it was reasonable to point out what it (ADL) perceived to be anti-Semitic overtones” in USLP pronouncements.
In commenting on the decision, Reich said that ADL “will pursue what the court referred to as the League’s ‘historic and organizational purpose’ of identifying and confronting anti-Semitism, and it will continue to monitor the activities of the LaRouche groups and all other organizations which indulge in such activity.”
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.