Will it still be legal, for long, to call someone "anti-Semitic" in Canada? Here’s why I ask.
In November of 2014 I lost a defamation lawsuit brought by Khurrum Awan, the former youth president of the Canadian Islamic Congress.
One of the reasons I lost was that the judge ruled that calling Awan an anti-Semite was defamatory.
But Awan used to be the youth president of an anti-Semitic group — the Canadian Islamic Congress. Back then the CIC was led by a notorious anti-Semite, Mohamed Elmasry. Elmasry went on national TV to declare that any adult in Israel is a legitimate target for terrorism. The CIC even called for the legalization of anti-Semitic terrorist groups.
And yet the judge ruled that it was defamatory for me to call their former youth president anti-Semitic.
Because Awan denied it in court, and said he never knew about his organization's infamous misconduct. The judge ruled I did not prove it was factually true.
What’s so incredible is that Awan himself testified at trial that he agreed it's reasonable for people to call certain statements by the Canadian Islamic Congress anti-Semitic.
I simply had to appeal this ruling.
And Monday — finally — I had my day at the Ontario Court of Appeal.
You can read my lawyer’s legal brief by clicking here.
My lawyer made many points, but a key one was this:
If the trial judge’s ruling is not overturned, there will be a great chill over free speech in Canada.
My lawyer gave the court a hypothetical example of a member of the Ku Klux Klan.
Would it really be defamatory to call a member of the KKK racist, if he denied he was racist? Even though he admitted it’s fair to call the KKK itself racist?
There aren’t a lot of KKK activists on university campuses these days.
But there are a lot of pro-Hamas activists on campus, demonizing Israel and Jews, denying the last Holocaust even while calling for the next one.
If the precedent against me stands, any Jewish student or any righteous Gentile who dares to call out anti-Semites could be hauled before a court, and put through eight years of lawfare.
That’s how long it’s been for me — I first wrote those comments about Awan and the Canadian Islamic Congress back in 2008. And we’re still in court.
I have already received one legal bill from my lawyer, for his preparations for the appeal. And he hasn’t sent me the bill for our court appearance yet. I expect the total cost will be over $30,000.
And if we lose, I’ll need to apply to the Supreme Court of Canada.
This trial judgment doesn’t just affect my rights.
It’s a setback for freedom for everyone — especially for activists trying to fight back against anti-Semitism.
Imagine not being able to use that word to describe activists in anti-Semitic groups...
If you share my belief that we cannot let this ruling stand,PLEASE help me cover the costs of this appeal by visiting StandWithEzra.ca
Thanks for your support — for me, and for everyone who believes in free speech, and opposes lawfare.