On February 3, the Los Angeles Review of Books, a publication known for its intellectual rigor, published a letter by David Horowitz, a right-wing extremist, falsely accusing Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) of funding, supporting and being “orchestrated” by a State-Department designated foreign terrorist organization (FTO).
Shortly after the L.A. Review published the Horowitz letter, an SJP student at the University of California Los Angeles received a home visit from two FBI agents, whose questions mirrored the false allegations in the L.A. Review letter.
Palestine Legal’s Radhika Sainath wrote the L.A. Review on February 16 asking that it retract all such false statements, noting that Horowitz “has a history of making unsubstantiated defamation threats against individuals and news outlets that have criticized his false statements and campaigns of hate.” Sainath’s letter states:
“Horowitz’s letter falls so grossly short of your editorial standards, we are concerned that you may have published it under threat of a similarly meritless lawsuit. The L.A. Review of Books should never have published such base, Islamophobic drivel that has already caused damage, and has the potential to cause more real damage to individuals engaged in human rights advocacy.”
In a response, L.A. Review Editor-in-Chief Tom Lutz wrote Sainath thanking her for her letter and stating that with respect to Horowitz’s letter “we don’t fact check such responses. We are very glad to have your corrective to it though, and would like to publish it in its entirety.”
Lutz later informed Palestine Legal that he indeed received a defamation threat from Horowitz’s attorney and feared removing the unchecked, false statements of criminal conduct as those statements were posted as part of an agreement with Horowitz’s lawyer. An editor’s note was added however, disputing the factual basis to Horowitz’s claims.
The L.A. Review declined Palestine Legal’s offer to talk to a pro-bono attorney familiar with Horowitz’s baseless defamation threats and refused to remove the false statements.
A slightly-edited version of Sainath’s February 16 letter was published on April 8, here.
This incident illustrates that legal bullying has provided Horowitz with platforms that he would otherwise not have been granted access given his reprehensible, dishonest and anti-intellectual agenda. Palestine Legal will continue to press such outlets to stand up to such baseless threats and protect students and faculty against false and racist accusations intended to undermine their First Amendment rights.
Let the L.A. Review know what you think.