Libel tourist backs off of Wash. Institute
(WASHINGTON) — Yesterday, KinderUSA and Dr. Laila Al-Marayati dismissed with prejudice their libel suit, recently filed in California, against The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, its senior fellow Dr. Matthew Levitt, and Yale University Press. The suit involved passages contained in Dr. Levitt’s critically acclaimed and carefully researched book Hamas: Politics, Charity, and Terrorism in the Service of Jihad, published by Yale University Press.Note that this is in the US, though, where the case took place. If the suit were conducted from Britain, would the results be as successful? Excellent question. For now though, it's very fortunate that free speech has prevailed.
In addition to dismissing its lawsuit, the plaintiffs released all their claims based on Dr. Levitt’s book. Dr. Levitt, The Washington Institute, and Yale University Press are not obligated to make any changes to Hamas, they are not limited in what they can write in the future, and they have not offered or given any compensation — monetary or otherwise, now or in the future — to plaintiffs for their dismissal of the suit.
“We view this early, voluntary, and full dismissal as a complete victory,” commented Dr. Robert Satloff, The Washington Institute’s executive director. “As a result of the dismissal, Dr. Levitt’s scholarship stands as it should be — on its own merit, unchanged by litigation or legal compromise. We were deeply concerned about the chilling effect lawsuits like this may have on other important scholars who are researching similar topics, and we hope that this result will help to create an environment more conducive to an open and honest discussion of such significant topics.”
KinderUSA and Dr. Al-Marayati dismissed their lawsuit shortly after The Washington Institute and Dr. Levitt filed a motion under California’s anti-SLAPP provisions supported by a declaration of Dr. Levitt contesting plaintiffs’ allegations. Yale University Press also filed its own anti-SLAPP motion. The anti-SLAPP statute provides a mechanism for quickly resolving lawsuits designed primarily to chill the valid exercise of constitutionally guaranteed rights, including free speech.