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Posted Thursday, March 25, 2004

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Israel, Thursday, March 25, 2004 Nisan 3, 5764

Palestinian charity sues British Jewry over terror slur

By Sharon Sadeh,
Haaretz Correspondent

LONDON - Interpal, one of the largest Palestinian charitable funds in Britain, has filed a libel suit against the Jewish Board of Deputies, the umbrella organization of British Jewry, demanding the organization apologize for referring to the fund as a terror organization.

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David Irving comments:

MY advice to the Interpal lawyers; avoid Mr Justice Gray; hope for Mr Justice Toulson -- if he hears libel actions -- or one of the other Queen's bench judges.

Michael Whine

Michael Whinge, director of the Board of Deputies of British Jews. It states its aims as being to further the interests of the State of Israel.

The board's response is to be submitted Thursday [March 25, 2004] to the High Court and a hearing will then be held to determine when the legal proceedings will begin in court. Six months ago, the Board of Deputies published on its Web site a report that described Interpal as a terrorist organization. Interpal calls itself an "independent charitable organization providing support to the poor and needy Palestinian people."

The Board of Deputies report followed a U.S. decision published in August 2003 banning Interpal activity in the U.S. on grounds of suspicion of helping Hamas. The U.S. classified Interpal as a "specially designated global terror organization."

The British commission responsible for nonprofit organizations [presumably the Charity Commission] opened an inquiry that led to a freeze on Interpal activity in Britain. The case was closed in September 2003 and Interpal resumed activity after the commission reached the conclusion there was no evidence linking Interpal to Hamas.

The commission's report said the U.S. did not provide any evidence of the accusations leveled against Interpal.

Security sources told Ha'aretz the FBI had reservations about exposing classified intelligence material or handing over documents to the British commission, for fear it would be leaked to hostile elements. Israel is furious about the decision to allow Interpal to continue operations, and Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom demanded at meetings with British officials that they shut down the fund. The British said they cannot take action because the commission is an independent agency, not subordinate to the government.

After the commission closed the case, the Board of Deputies admitted it made a mistake in its description of Interpal and clarified that the description that appeared on the site was imprecise "according to the terms used in Britain."

However, Interpal did not regard that as a sufficient apology and warned it would submit the libel suit if the Board of Deputies did not completely retract its statements. In the wake of a correspondence between the two organizations, Interpal decided to go ahead with its suit. A spokesman for Interpal told Haaretz yesterday that the NPO operates in Britain alone and is unaware of any legal proceedings against it in any other country, including the U.S. and Canada.

He said the suit against the Board of Deputies was the result of their refusal to apologize "and because they did not present any evidence proving their claim that we are a terror organization." He added a demand for compensation will be made during the trial and denied the Palestinian Authority had made the fund's work difficult as it had in the past, saying there were "excellent relations" with the PA. The Board of Deputies refused to comment on the case.


David Irving's libel action against the Board of Deputies of British Jews
Our dossier on Board of Deputies of British Jews

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