In the latest lawsuit, filed in Ontario Superior Court in Ottawa, Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME) allege that Levant defamed them by comparing them to Nazis and calling them “Jew-baiters.”
In a statement of claim, the group’s lawyer, Ottawa’s Yavar Hameed, writes that comparing the activist group to the Nazis is “false, inapposite and deliberately inflammatory.”
CJPME runs campaigns encouraging the boycotting of Israeli goods to protest its treatment of Palestinians. It’s seeking $100,000 in damages and $20,000 for punitive or exemplary damages. The late Liberal MP Warren Allmand, was on the board of the group.
Levant has not yet filed a statement of defence.
“We’re not in a position to reply substantively yet,” he said in an email. “I expect that will be in due course through the filing of documents at court.”
It’s not clear when Levant’s posts went online, but the statement of claim says members of CJPME first saw them in September 2016 in a number of online postings. Those appeared under the URL dontbuyfromjews.com, which was registered Aug. 22. It redirects to a page on Levant’s Rebel Media.
In a petition pitch titled Tax dollars subsidize Jew hatred in Canada, Levant compares the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement to the early anti-Semitic harassment Nazis would use against Jewish businesses.
“It was partly about causing financial pain to Jews,” he wrote. “But it was mainly about making it normal, in polite company, to hate Jews and treat them atrociously — to soften up public opinion for what was to come next.”
In the statement of claim, CJPME says that BDS “is not a criticism or attack on Jewish people or upon any person because of their religion or ethnicity,” and that the group “decries hatred, violence, racism and religious targeting of Jewish people in Canada and throughout the world.”
In his posting, Levant also calls on CJPME to lose its charitable status. The group’s statement of claim says it doesn’t claim to be a charity, a fact confirmed by a search of the Canadian Revenue Agency’s public database. However, a sister organization, the CJPME Foundation, is a charity.
CJPME did not reply to a request for comment.
The claim was filed on the same day that Levant lost his appeal of a November 2014 defamation judgment against lawyer Khurrum Awan. Awan earned Levant’s ire for campaigning against the depiction of Muslims in a Maclean’s magazine article.
In her decision, Ontario Justice Wendy Matheson slammed Levant for doing little or no fact-checking when he claimed Awan had a friendship with Mohammed Elmasry, former head of the Canadian Islamic Congress. Matheson ruled Levant owed Awan a total $80,000 in damages plus $70,000 in costs. In losing the appeal, Levant was assessed another $15,000 in costs. He continues to fundraise online, saying he wants to appeal the case to the Supreme Court.
In 2011, Levant was ordered to pay $32,500 in libel damages to human rights lawyer Giacomo Vigna for blog posts Levant wrote about the Canadian Human Rights Commission, according to J-source.ca. The court reportedly found Levant had failed to fact-check his comments and sought to de-normalize the human rights commission.
Levant has also had to apologize and retract comments several times for making false statements.
Author: James Munson