Thursday, February 15, 2007

Bar Ilan, Oliver Wendall Holmes and the Limits of Free Speech

When I saw the following statement from Bar Ilan, I immediately thought of the late, great Justice Oliver Wendall Holmes, who said: '"the most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man in falsely shouting fire in a theatre and causing a panic. The question in every case is whether the words used are used in such circumstances and are of such a nature as to create a clear and present danger that they will bring about the substantive evils that Congress has a right to prevent."

Bar-Ilan University Condemns Publication of Book on Blood Libels
University expects Prof. Ariel Toaff to take immediate measures to repair the damage caused by the publication of his book

Following a preliminary investigation into the circumstances surrounding the publication of Prof. Ariel Toaff's book in Italy, Bar-Ilan University is expressing great anger and extreme displeasure at Prof. Ariel Toaff, for his lack of sensitivity in publishing his book about blood libels in Italy. His choice of a private publishing firm in Italy, the book's provocative title and the interpretations given by the media to its contents, have offended the sensitivities of Jews around the world and harmed the delicate fabric of relations between Jews and Christians.

r-Ilan University strongly condemns and repudiates what is seemingly implied by Toaff's book and by reports in the media concerning its contents, as if there is a basis for the blood libels that led to the murder of millions of innocent Jews.

Bar-Ilan University's executive leadership and academic faculty have consistently condemned any attempt to justify the terrible blood libels against the Jews. Prof. Toaff should have demonstrated greater sensitivity and caution in his handling of the book and its publication, in a manner that would have prevented the distorted and offensive reports and interpretations.

At Bar-Ilan University it is expected that now, after the extent of the damage caused to the Jewish public has become apparent, Prof. Toaff will take personal responsibility for his blunder and act to repair the damage which he caused.

In addition, the University expects all those involved in the matter to work to set the record straight and to remove the needless cloud that has formed in the wake of the distorted accounts.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Instead of BI relying on media reports for what the book says why don't they get a trusted scholar who has excellect Italian to investigate the book?

(Though for the record it seems that BI is correct in its assertions.)

Myobiter, you know Toaff. What was he thinking?