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Author Topic: Israel-equals-Hitler case moves forward  (Read 317 times)
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« on: April 14, 2007, 09:54:48 AM »

Israel-equals-Hitler case moves forward 
Prof targeted by Muslims after challenging Middle East analysis

A DePaul University professor suspended from his work after he challenged a student's allegation that Israel treats Palestinians the way Hitler treated Jews will be allowed to move forward with his defamation lawsuit against the school, a judge has ruled.

Two of the counts in the lawsuit brought by Thomas E. Klocek against DePaul, school President Dennis Holtschneider, Dean Susanne Dumbleton and others were dismissed, but the six primary counts "are legally sufficient," wrote Judge Daniel J. Kelley in his opinion.

DePaul had asked for the dismissal of all of the counts under its motion to reconsider, but the judge refused.

The defamation action was brought after Klocek had a spirited discussion about the Middle East with some Muslim students who were promoting their perspective at a Student Activities Fair on the Chicago school's campus.

He visited a table of the Students for Justice in Palestine and took a handout showing an Israeli bulldozer destroying a Palestinian house, the lawsuit says.

During the course of the visit he began discussing the Middle East with students at the table, and when one of the students likened the Israeli treatment of Palestinians to Hitler's treatment of Jews, which offended him, he challenged the students by quoting an Arab source who said that although most Muslims are not terrorists, most of today's terrorists are Muslim.

The student group then filed a complaint against Klocek with Dumbleton, dean of the School for New Learning. Klocek was suspended, without the normally required hearing.

Writing about the incident in the school paper, Dumbleton stated: "No student anywhere should ever have to be concerned that they will be verbally attacked for their religious belief or ethnicity."

Holtschneider also wrote a letter slamming Klocek, which was published in Denver's Rocky Mountain News:

    Last September, Klocek acted in a belligerent and menacing manner toward students who were passing out literature at a table in the cafeteria. He raised his voice, threw pamphlets at students, pointed his finger near their faces and displayed a gesture interpreted as obscene. … DePaul offered to give Klocek a spring quarter class assignment if he met with the students to apologize for his behavior and if the program director could drop by his class to ensure that the health issues that affected his teaching were resolved. He refused.

Holtschneider's letter is one of the grounds for Klocek's claim of defamation, because he said there was no shouting, throwing of paper, threats or obscene gestures exchanged during the argument.

As an adjunct professor, Klocek technically is hired quarter by quarter. Since he didn't respond when the university demanded an apology, Klocek did not teach in the next quarter, nor was he paid.

The judge's new ruling said the defendants wanted the claims thrown out because Klocek was "not named in the documents," a listener or reader could impute an innocent construction to the remarks, and the statements were "non-actionable" opinion.

"Defendants' stance that none of the publications refer to the Plaintiff by name is incorrect," the court said, citing writings in the DePaulina, several e-mails, Holtschneider's letter to the Rocky Mountain news, another letter to the Post Online and yet another letter.

"Therefore, given that Defendants … individually and on behalf of Defendant DePaul University, made statements referring to Mr. Klocek by name, Defendants' basis for the dismissal … under this theory is without merit."

Regarding the request for dismissal because the statements could have innocent meanings, the court disagreed.

"Courts are not required to strain to find an unnatural innocent meaning for words when a defamatory meaning is far more reasonable," the judge concluded. Such an explanation "would be strained, unreasonable and … is not conclusive."

The judge also said it didn't appear the comments were protected opinion.

"Based on the context in which the Defendants made these statements, literary context implies that the statements are factual in nature. Virtually all the publications are couched in absolute terms as if factual," he wrote.

John Mauck, an attorney representing Klocek, said earlier that the statements made about Klocek attacking students' "religious beliefs and ethnicity" was tantamount to hanging a scarlet "R" of racism on a long-serving professor.

"In his 17-page order, Judge Kelley points to DePaul’s 'reckless disregard for the truth' in statements made following Klocek's suspension," said Mauck. "This breaks a long silence in the case as DePaul University previously secured a temporary gag order to prevent the release of significant facts in the case. "

He noted two judges now have independently upheld the validity of Klocek's complaint against DePaul.

"We also look forward to a public trial where DePaul students and the public can judge for themselves whether certain administrators silenced Tom Klocek because a few Muslim activists wanted his political and religious opinions repressed."

Klocek said the school's demand for an apology for his statements would have amounted to censorship, so the school was demanding an apology for actions "in which I have not engaged."

Joh 9:4  I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.
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