Supreme Court rules that the right-wing ‘Im Tirzu’ movement had no basis to sue a group of Facebook activists who labeled it ‘fascist.’
By Oren Persico
“It pains me to say so, but this suit contradicts this court’s fundamentals regarding the scope of freedom of speech, whereas we are speaking of the heart of the political-ideological sphere on one end, and on the other end we have another consideration, where this discussion took place — on Facebook — rather than a book or an article in a newspaper. When we take into consideration these two aspects, the result is so trivial that is it difficult to believe that you didn’t consider that your appeal will be rejected.” That is what Supreme Court Justice Yitzhak Amit told Im Tirzu’s attorney during a hearing on the appeal filed by the group against the founders of a Facebook group titled, “Im Tirzu is a fascist movement.” “The truth,” Justice Amit added, “is that your appeal should have been rejected out of hand.”
The hearing, which was heard by a three-judge panel that also included justices Anat Baron and Meni Mazuz, was on an appeal filed by both sides, against the Jerusalem District Court’s previous ruling. Roy Yellin, one of the founders of the group, appealed the district court’s decision, which fined him for libel after he published a Facebook comment tying Im Tirzu to scientific racism. The remaining defendants in the original lawsuit filed by Im Tirzu (for NIS 2.3 million), asked the court to force the organization to pay their legal costs. For its part, Im Tirzu appealed the court’s ruling that the “Im Tirzu is a fascist movement” Facebook group did not constitute libel.
Im Tirtzu has become known over the past several years for their attacks on left-wing academics and organizations. It launched a personal campaign against the head of the NIF, Naomi Chazan in the wake of Operation Cast Lead, campaigned against academics who taught courses about the Palestinian narrative of 1948, and led the campaign to shut down the political science department in Ben Gurion University. Im Tirtzu was also behind the attempt to scare the Eretz Yisrael Museum from hosting the annual ‘Return Conference,’ an event put on by the non-profit Zochrot, which works to promote awareness of the Nakba in Israeli society.
At the end of the court hearing, both sides agreed with the Supreme Court’s decision that...Read More