Jewish BDS activist loses libel case over being called a ‘notorious antisemite’

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Jewish BDS activist loses libel case over being called a ‘notorious antisemite’

Tony Greenstein, who was expelled by the Labour Party, failed in his bid against the Campaign Against Antisemitism

Tony Greenstein
Tony Greenstein

A Palestinian rights activist expelled by the Labour Party who sued Campaign Against Antisemitism for calling him a “notorious antisemite” has had his defamation action struck out by the High Court.

Tony Greenstein, who brought the case against CAA early last year, was told that the description of him as an antisemite was a “general charge” and a “statement of opinion” that may have been honestly held.

The court declined to “grapple with arguments over the correctness” of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism and its working examples, as Greenstein wanted, because “the term ‘antisemite’ is not defined”.

Greenstein said CAA had “misapplied and misused” the definition in order to attack him for political reasons, and not on the basis that he is antisemitic.

However, the judge disagreed, in what CAA called “a humiliating case of legal action backfiring”, adding that Greenstein had “long sought to have CAA struck off the register of charities”.

During the hearing, the judge considered some of Greenstein’s past statements on Twitter, including his use of the word ‘Zio’ which Labour’s Baroness Shami Chakrabarti determined to be antisemitic.

In 2014 Greenstein referred to “Jewish Nazis” and in 2016 said “Am Yisrael Chai [the people of Israel live] is the Zionist equivalent of Heil Hitler”.

Mrs Justice Tipples said: “The claimant’s tweet compares the people of Israel to the Nazis and, on any objective assessment, an honest person could have held the opinion that that was an antisemitic statement from the claimant.”

CAA chief executive Gideon Falter said: “We have repeatedly called him a ‘notorious antisemite’ and today the High Court ruled that we were perfectly entitled to do so.

“This is a humiliating defeat for Mr Greenstein who will now have to explain to those who paid his legal expenses through crowdfunding that he wasted their money on such a hopeless claim.”

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