In a move that calls back to the attempt by Texas cattlemen to sue Oprah Winfrey for “defamation of beef.” an Israeli lawyer has filed a class-action lawsuit against former President Jimmy Carter, seeking $5 million in damages because his book “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid” allegedly defamed Israel.
Attorney Nitsana Darshan-Leitner insisted that Carter’s book violated New York State’s Consumer Protection Laws by asserting things, largely that Israel was not inherently reasonable and Syria was not inherently unreasonable, that “even a child” knows is untrue.
The suit went on to condemn Carter, saying he had an “agenda of anti-Israel propaganda” and condemned publisher Simon and Shuster for advertising the book as a work on non-fiction. The legal complaint insists Carter has the right to publish a book “to put forward his virulent anti-Israel bias” but insisted that such a book could only be sold as a work of fiction.
Lawsuits against authors alleging “defamation” of the government or a key ally, though common in some Mideast dictatorships, have never been particulary common nor successful in the United States. Likewise, it does not appear that New York’s Consumer Protection Law explicitly forbids criticism of Israel in a work of non-fiction, though if true this would surely make for an interesting Constitutional challenge to such a law.
Simon and Schuster spokesman Adam Rothberg condemned the lawsuit as a “chillling attack on free speech” and promised that the company would oppose it in court. Former President Carter has yet to comment.