Valuable Contribution to
Study of Libel in Debate
Between B-G, Prof. Cahn
Sin Covered Up
All These Years
himself should be able to distinguish correct information from libel.
Prof. Cahn's Debate with Ben-Gurion on Question
This is an exaggerated demand — it should be addressed first of all
of Defamation Control and Freedom of the Press
to the newspaper."
JERUSALEM—The speaker of
Dr. Edmond Cahn, professor of law, New York University School
Then the Israeli leader expressed himself on group libel, declar-
of Law, has made public an exchange of correspondence between him ing: "The defamation of a group is worse than the defamation of an the Knesset bowed his (yarmulka-
covered) head in shame for a sin
and former Israel Premier David Ben-Gurion on the question of individual—especially in our country where the problem of integrating
he committed at a recent session.
freedom of the press.
the communities is acute and the education of all sections to respect
These letters, with Prof. Calm's comments, were incorporated in citizens of all origins is a primary duty."
Kaddish Luz, it was reported
an article published with Ben-Gurion's permission in the Journal of
in the Day-Morning Journal, had
One wonders, upon reading Ben-Gurion's unbending attitude,
Public Law of Emory University Law School, Atlanta.
cited certain portions from Ezra
what the distinguished Israeli, who had gained the admiration of
The "candid debate," as professor Cahn describes the discussion, people everywhere, would have said if he were shown this statement
at the parliamentary session
on "whether the aim to prevent defamation justifies a government in by Jefferson (Writings of Jefferson, Vol. VI, page 55): "Were it left
with reference to the passage
2,5000 years since the erectiu. / 1
restricting the freedom of the press" began with the appearance of to me to decide whether we should have a government without news-
a news item that the Israel government, then under Ben-Gurion's papers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate
of the second Bais Hamikdosh.
leadership, had offered a defamation bill in the Knesset, in 1962, a moment to prefer the latter." This was the assertion of a man who
While reading the biblical
verses, he covered his head with
sharply to curtail the freedom of the Israeli press. Dr. Cahn then at one point also wanted to restrict the press.
wrote a letter of protest to the Israeli Prime Minister. The corre-
The objective student will have no hesitation in saying that
spondence that ensued is contained in a pamphlet, the reprint of
Vice speakers Barzilai
Prof. Cahn got the better of the argument with Ben-Gurion. In
the Emory, Law Journal article.
his final letter he called B-G's attention to the basic fact — that
(Mapam) and Dr. Nir-Rafalkes
Prof. Calm's review of the background of the correspondence
(Achdut Avodah) hit the parlia-
their discussion related to "PREVIOUS restraint in the form of
commences with the insertion of an editorial that appeared in the
mentary roof. The shame of it
administrative or judicial authority to suspend or close news-
London Times upon the announcement of Ben-Gurion proposed
all! they shouted. A socialist-Ma-
bill. That editorial called it "a shocking law," branding it 'a
Prof. Cahn was right, of course, in asserting that, "in any liber- painik covered his head PUB-
bludgeon attack on liberties, which, in the Middle East, have all tarian view, the freedom of the press is not a mere formula to LICLY, in the KNESSET, with a
too few footholds."
summarize jural relations between a publisher and a government . . .
Ben-Gurion responded to Prof. Calm's initial letter and answered Freedom of the press belongs to the people. It is as inherent and
Kaddish Luz admitted the
the N.Y. University law professor's second letter. The exchange indestructible a possession of the people of Israel as the land itself."
error of his ways, explaining that
In its entirety, the Cahn-BG debate is valuable for an under-
concluded with a third letter written by Dr. Cahn to which, apparently,
for many years he has put on a
standing of the basic elements of freedom, of the values of an unim-
there was no further reply.
yarmulka to read out of the
From the debate that ensued it appears that Ben-Gurion remained peded press, of the rejection of censorship. By his rejection of Bible.
adamant, although the measure he proposed was first modified and defamation control and previous restraint, and his defense of the free
He did not indicate he has any
then, from all indications, abandoned. But the issues raised and the press — in Israel as in this country — Prof. Calm has made a valuable
intention of Reforming.
arguments advanced by Dr. Cahn certainly serve as a distinct contri- contribution to the study of libel procedures and of the ideal of a
bution to the study of libel law and press defamation.
Arab League Claims
Prof. Cahn was in Israel shortly after the introduction of Ben- Detroit's Role in Israel Dental School
Gurion's abortive bill. He lectured in Tel Aviv on the general theory
Detroiters played such an important role in the establishment of Discrimination in Israel
of a free press and later spoke in Jerusalem on the question of the dental school, which is to be dedicated next week in Jerusalem
LONDON (JTA) — The Arab
defamation. He refrained from appending the texts of his public as part of the Hadassah-Hebrew University Medical Center, that the
League headquarters in Cairo has
addresses to the article in which he included his exchange of corre- event is of special significance to our community.
spondence with B-G "in order not to exaggerate their slight influence
It was through the efforts of the distinguished Jerusalem dentist, instructed its New York represen-
on the course of events." He adds, however, in relation to these Dr. Samuel Lewin-Epstein, brother of the late Mrs. Abraham M. Hersh- tatives to urge Arab representa-
man, that the movement initially was inaugurated here through the tives at the United Nations to ask
"According to various Israeli jurists they at least served to Alpha Omega dental fraternity. The dentists continued their efforts the UN for its attitude on alleged
ease the task of liberal judges and officials: Israelis who had until it became a national project. The needs were speedily recognized "r a cial discrimination" against
previously been considered extremists in liberalism could thence- and the joint Israel-American activities finally materialized and the Arabs living in Israel, according
to a Cairo dispatch received here.
forth claim to be moderates."
dental school now is a reality.
Charging that such discrimina-
Attesting admiration for Ben-Gurion, paying respect to the people
The dedication of the Israel dental school takes place on the eve
of Israel and to the Israeli press for their "unequivocal stand for of the annual convention of Hadassah—the 50th national gathering of tion exists, the League declared
freedom," Prof. Cahn, referring to the incident in American history the women Zionists—to be held next week in Los Angeles. Hadassah's the situation of the Arabs in so-
when Jefferson, on a rare and unhappy occasion, sought to silence the record for service in Israel and for educational activities in this coun- called "occupied Palestine" consti-
press when he considered it unfair to him and was opposed in that try is well known. Now, at the current convention, Hadassah can boast tuted a "flagrant violation" of the
effort by the American people, likens it to the reaction in Israel and of another achievement—its cooperation in the establishment of the United Nations Charter and the
dental college. There is justification for numerous congratulations to Universal Declaration on Human
Even so the Israeli people opposed and halted their most gifted be shared by Israel with Hadassah and the American dentists.
leader when he advocated the Defamation Bill of 1962. It was a
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heartening episode in each instance and a firm ground for faith in
Israel to Develop
In his March 12, 1962 letter of protest, Dr. Cahn called the Ben-
Gurion proposal "a blow between the eyes to those of us who have Textile Education
always associated the State of Israel with liberty and enlightment."
NEW YORK (JTA)—A school is
Thereupon, on March 25, 1962, Ben-Gurion replied, offering his
views of defamation. His letter contained these two telling paragraphs: planned by the government of
"We believe that the freedom of every individual is limited Israel in Tel Aviv to train apparel
by the freedom of rights of others and that no individual or a designers and engineers on recom- I
(Copyright, 1964, Jewish
newspaper has the right to humiliate his fellow man or to make mendation of officials of the New I
Telegraphic Agency, Inc.)
him the object of hatred and contempt if he has no reasonable
basis for believing that the statement which he wishes to publish nology.
Now it can be told that, when President Johnson first opened the
The plan was disclosed by Dr.
against him is true.
"We distinguish between freedom of the press and license Lawrence L. Bethel, president of subject of joint American-Israel scientific research into desalting sea
of the press, and believe that it is the duty of a democracy to the Institute, who, with two aides, water for use in agriculture, the Israelis looked askance at the idea ...
defend its citizens against unjustified attacks, and that one of recently visited Israel.• They made
Their feelings were a mixture of disbelief and suspicion—disbelief that
these is the publication of a slander when he who publishes it the visit on invitation from Pinhas
has no reasonable justification for believing that the statement Sapir, the Israel Minister of Com- such a thing was possible, and suspicion that this was a red herring to
merce and Industry, after he had be drawn across the more delicate subject of how America can help
Prof. Cahn's refutation of these views, which the N.Y. University visited the Institute here.
Israel in her defense problems . . . This was in February . . . Since
professor held in deep respect but which Ben-Gurion's critics viewed
Dr. Bethel said that if the plain then, a change has come over Israel public opinion, led by Prime
-as 'being altogether too brash and unreasonable, offer the basis for is accepted, construction of the
Minister Levi Eshkol . . . Today, Israelis realize the tremendous pos•,'
a free press. He rejected any move that would lead toward the sup- school at a cost of $3,000,000 would
pression of the press and freedom of expression. He quoted from a be started for completion in Octo- sibilities inherent in the eventual success of desalting sea water
ruling by the Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, Charles Evans ber of 1966. He added that the fac-
Hughes, in 1931, against a newspaper that was admitted to be as scan- ulty would be recruited from the imaginations, and they are now crediting Premier Eshkol with losing
dalous and as defamatory as one is likely to find anywhere, in which Institute here. For that purpose, he no time in bringing about — during his visit to Washington —
Mr. Justice Hughes declared that' the press could not be free if the said, he proposed that three fac- mediate action by President Johnson on the project . . . They
law imposed a previous restraint upon it, as the B-G proposal would ulty members go to Tel Aviv for impressed with the arrival of American experts in Israel
have done to the Israel press. Hughes then held that to be "the three years to teach in the Insti- practical discussions on the setting up of a $100,000,000 pilot plant
the country for use of nuclear energy toward desalination of sea water
essence of censorship."
tute there. In addition, 10 to 12
. To them this is an indication that Uncle Sam means business and
Prof. Cahn's view is that the people of Israel "cannot eventually graduates of the New York Insti-
judge between political true and political false, the blunders of tute would be prepared to teach not mere rhetoric . . . The practical result is that there is now a
feeling in Israel that, so long as President Johnson is in the White
choice they may commit are the very ones they must consume . . . The in the Tel Aviv school.
House, Israel can dwell in safety in the shadow of American goodwill
community of Israel has the fundamental right to read and receive
He said that, despite the fact and protection of her territorial integrity and social progress.
publications and to determine the extent of their political truth or
that textile and apparel manufac-
falsity for itself without prior restraint."
ture "constitute the largest indus-
Dr. Cahn also took a stand against "group libel" law as bound to trial operation" in Israel, almost Communal Issues
be incompatible with press freedom because in the most significant
The Council of Jewish Federations and Welfare Funds is now
nothing has been done there for
applications it automatically precludes the defense of truth or of textile and apparel education. The preparing the agenda for its forthcoming General Assembly, which is
reasonable basis for belief."
New York Institute is operated to open in St. Louis on Nov. 12 . . . The agenda is being developed
Ben-Gurion's second letter is typical of the man whose views
jointly by the University of the on the basis of suggestions from communities throughout the United
in recent years (not only in reference to Zionism but on many State of New York, the New York States and Canada regarding their priority concerns . . . The Assembly
other issues) have been judged as hasty and impetuous. Rejecting Board of Education, and the Edu- will deal with the changing interests and needs of a native-born and
the London Times editorial criticism of his proposal which the
cational Foundation for the Ap- college-educated generation living in a more open society . . . It will
paper branded "a shocking law," the Israeli leader recalled that
discuss the human rights crisis and the role of the Jewish federations
"in the days of Hitler its editor forbade all criticism of the Nazis." parel
. • . It will analyze the impact of government funds on voluntary
B-G picked up the cue on Charles Evans Hughes to recall that
agencies . . . It will seek to establish whether Jewish federated financ-
he was in the United States when Hughes had gone to bed on the
ing is gaining or losing in proportion to Jewish contributions to other
1916 November election night, believing that he was elected Festival of Jewish Music Jewish and to non-sectarian purposes . . . It will throw light on the
President, only to awaken to the reality, the next morning, that
MEXICO CITY (JTA)—The min- relevancy of current Jewish education to the needs and issues of the
California's vote retained Woodrow Wilson in the White House
times . . . It will take up the problem of personnel shortages in
for another four years. He shrugged off Hughes' ruling by stating istry of education announced it
Jewish communal services, and will present a blueprint for solutions
his words are "not the words of the deity and it is permissible
. . . The question of how funds are being allocated' by the federations
to differ with him."
—on the basis of last year's decisions or next year's needs—will also
B-G remained so determinedly adamant! He told Dr. Cahn: "There ish Music, to be conducted here,
be widely discussed . . . Of special importance will be the findings
is a fundamental difference between 'disagreeable or unpopular infor- beginning Tuesday, by the cultural
and recommendations of the CJFWF delegation which is returning
mation' and slander. It seems to me that you demand that the reader
central organization of the Ashke- this week from Europe and Israel, after several weeks
, of study of the
naiiC eormniniit3i 'in
THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS '
Friday, August 1964
... and Me'