Court slaps journalist with slander against rightist
Supreme Court rules that statement made by Amnon Dankner, now editor of Maariv daily, calling extreme right-wing activist Itamar Ben-Gvir 'dirty little Nazi' on television program in 1995 is slanderous
Hurling the word Nazi at someone on national television was found to be slander by the Supreme Court Sunday when it accepted the court appeal of extreme right-wing activist Itamar Ben-Gvir against Amnon Dankner.
The three judges sitting on the case ruled that Ben-Gvir will only be compensated NIS 1 (USD .23) in damages.
Eleven years ago, Dankner called Ben-Gvir a "dirty little Nazi" on a television program broadcast on Israel's state television channel, Channel 1. Ben-Gvir sued Dankner, but Jerusalem District Court rejected his case. Justices Ayala Prokachia and Edna Arbel overturned the lower court's ruling. Eliezer Rivlin, vice president of the court, wrote the minority opinion.
"This expression, as directed at a Jew in the Jewish State, where the memory of the Holocaust lives on and guides the experiences of individuals and the general public living in it, presents an extreme insult by any measure even in a polarized society, in which there is a free oral debate between various ideological factions existing within it," wrote Prokachia in her opinion.
"Ascribing Jews in Israel membership in the Nazi party and comparing him to a Nazi in his perspective and actions deviates from all reasonable criteria of expressing an opinion about a person, the ideologies he ascribes to, his actions," she continued.
Justice Rivlin disagreed with his colleague.
"There is no ignoring the gravity of freedom of expression as protection against racism and hooliganism. My conclusion is that in the overall balance and considering the unique circumstances of this incident, defending freedom of expression in good faith stands to serve Dankner," Rivlin explained.
Arbel joined Prokachia in her opinion. But, then there was disagreement over proper compensation. Prokachia was of the opinion that Dankner, today the editor of the Maariv daily, should pay Ben-Gvir NIS 15,000 (USD 3,500), but Arbel thought NIS 1 would suffice. Ultimately, Avner's position was accepted.