David Horowitz has never been known for his deft touch in the rough and tumble of intellectual and political debate. In other words, the guy’s a hatchet man out for the blood of the academic left. Horowitz reserves an especially fond place in his heart for those he deems enemies of Israel. Further, he reserves the choicest of choice places for Jewish critics of Israel. That’s why he chose to steal a picture of Stanford Middle East studies professor Joel Beinin and slap it on his hatchet job of a book, Campus Support for Terrorism.
In the process of publishing his pamphlet, he appropriated an image of Beinin without seeking permission from its owner. After Beinin saw his picture displayed as a leader of campus terror he contacted the photographer who owned it. The latter promptly assigned the image to Beinin which allowed him to sue Horowitz for copyright infringement. In case any of my readers believe this is a relatively minor matter not worthy of legal proceedings, I must say that at least twice people have appropriated pictures of me from this blog and used them at other websites to heap abuse upon me for my political views. In both cases, the images were removed. But in one of those cases I had to retain a copyright attorney to threaten the blogger’s publisher with a Digital Millennium Copyright infringement. And this cost me money, time and aggravation. So I know precisely what Beinin is going through and I’m with him 100% in this battle against gnaivishe (“thieving”) tabloid ideologues like Horowitz.
Here’s Horowitz’ pathetic response quoted in the NY Times:
[Horowitz] asserted that revised covers of the pamphlet in subsequent printings would not have the photograph.
But the picture, Mr. Horowitz said, is beside the point, adding, “The leftists claim to be concerned about the chilling of free speech, but think nothing of using the courts to chill speech.”
As for his first point, it is beside the point. The damage has been done to Beinin’s reputation. Subsequent printings which omit the offending photo cannot undue that damage. So Davey still has a little old problem that won’t go away just because he says he’s going to play nice in the future.
And don’t you just love Horowitz’s whining about violation of his own free speech rights via the lawsuit. Of course, the lawsuit has nothing to do with free speech. Horowitz is entitled to say any damn thing he wanted about Beinin (and he has I’m sure and probably mostly lies or distortions). But he’s not entitled to use an image owned by someone else without the owners permission if the owner objects to his use.
In a San Jose Mercury News article Horowitz attempts an alternate defense:
I didn’t say he was a terrorist. I said he supported terrorism,”
Big deal. Big difference! You see, in Horowitz’s alleged mind Beinin “supports terrorism” because he’s critical of Zionism and Israeli policies against the Palestinians. Beinin counts himself as an anti-Zionist, which I am not. But it’s a goddamn shame to let David Horowitz call Beinin a supporter of terrorism merely because he’s critical of Israel. I consider myself a progressive Zionist, but I am also critical of Israeli policy toward the Palestinians. No doubt Horowitz would call me names as well. But neither Beinin, myself nor anyone else deserves such a base smear for having principled differences with Israel.
This exchange is also instructive:
“I consider Beinin to be a supporter of terrorism,” Horowitz said. “I know that he supports the Palestinian Liberation Organization. I am going to guess that he supports the Palestinian Authority, which is Hamas.”
Beinin responded: “As usual, Horowitz is either flat out wrong or makes arguments from innuendo. I have never said that I support the PLO or any of its constituent organizations. I have argued that the U.S. and Israel ought to negotiate with the Palestinian Authority, not because I support it but because it is the pragmatic way to make progress toward peace. I definitely do not support Hamas.”
And lest you dismiss Horowitz as a right-wing nutjob, consider this from the Mercury News story:
A nationally known writer and Republican firebrand, center president Horowitz is said to have the ear of Bush adviser Karl Rove and others in the White House.
Since Horowitz is a braggart and publicity hound who may’ve been the source of the information included in this quotation, we might doubt this statement. But it’s certainly possible or even likely that it’s true.
Finally, if Horowitz can accuse Beinin of being a campus terrorist I think it’s only fair that we accuse Horowitz of being an ideological terrorist. If the damn shoe fits let him wear it.