The Southern Poverty Law Center labeled David Horowitz the “godfather of the modern anti-Muslim movement” two years ago and last month called him the “premier financier of radical anti-Muslim extremism” in its Field Guide to Anti-Muslim Extremists. So did David Horowitz threaten to sue the SPLC? Nope. But he’s threatening to sue Robert Gardner, a UCLA senior and member of Students for Justice in Palestine over an op-ed he wrote in The Daily Bruin, UCLA’s student newspaper.
Gardner said Horowitz was leading a “hate organization” because of posters his Freedom Center had put out targeting Palestinian solidarity activists.
the Freedom Center escalated its campaign of intimidation by naming students individually, implicating them as anti-Semitic terrorists and murderers. As a result, students have reported feeling unsafe on campus. And now the Freedom Center, with its most recent campaign, shows no signs of stopping.
For Palestinian students and allies like myself, the experience [of being targeted for our activism] has been all too surreal. Because of my activism for Palestinian human rights, I have been placed on an online blacklist – an anonymous website ran by students and “concerned citizens” – that is trying to prevent me from being employed, and that blacklist provides the Freedom Center with the information needed to launch its hateful campaign of intimidation. Ever since my name was listed on the posters, I have been followed, bullied and harassed on social media. Like other students, this has caused me to worry for my safety. This experience has also caused me a great deal of psychological trauma, and I worry about my well-being. …”
Gardner wrote his op-ed as a response to Horowitz’s latest campaign, plastering posters on university campuses targeting Palestinian activists by name.
Gardner was featured in an L.A.Times exclusive last August describing Sheldon Adelson’s multi million dollar efforts to combat the “exploding pro-Palestinian movement on campuses” — those who support Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS).
The Times referenced Horowitz’s earlier campus attack ads against Palestinians and quoted Gardner:
The African American senior likened Israeli crackdowns on Palestinian protesters to police violence against black Americans. So he joined Students for Justice in Palestine and an international movement known as BDS, which advocates boycotts, divestment and sanctions against companies deemed players in Israeli human rights violations.
Earlier this year, though, he was shocked to see — on a poster outside a Westwood market — his name listed as one of 16 UCLA “Jew haters” and terrorist allies.
Since then, he says, “I’ve received death threats online, and people have followed me.”……
Gardner called the poster’s accusations false, saying he does not support terrorists or hate Jews. His group, he said, explicitly condemns unlawful violence by anyone.
But the 25-year-old says that he’s “worried about people coming to campus to attack me.”
That was last summer. Then came Horowitz’s October 2016 hate campaign of posters, which named pro-Palestinian activists (in the white space below) and called them anti-Semites.
Gardner responded defiantly with his Daily Bruin op-ed, “SJP unfazed by hate posters, will continue to educate students“.
And that was the op-ed that drove the bully Horowitz over the top.
Horowitz has now escalated his threats against Robert:
“You falsely describe David Horowitz as a racist,” wrote Horowitz’s attorney, Paul A. Hoffman, in a letter to Robert on October 17. “You should have checked the facts more carefully before printing your Op-Ed.” The letter calls Robert’s article “defamatory” and threatens that, “Further publication or republication [of your Op-Ed] will also demonstrate your malicious intent and will support the imposition of punitive damages against you personally.”
Horowitz sent a similar threat letter last spring to UCLA’s Vice Chancellor for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, Jerry Kang, after Kang denounced the Horowitz poster campaign as “thuggish intimidation” and “demagoguery.” As retribution, Horowitz also featured Kang himself on one of the posters plastered on UCLA’s campus last month.
Robert, an African American student majoring in political science, is active with Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) at UCLA……
Robert is a first generation college student, originally from South Los Angeles, and a transfer to UCLA from community college. He commutes over an hour by bus each day to the UCLA campus. His commitment to equality for Palestinians is rooted in his experience as a black youth facing police violence and structural inequalities.
Robert explained, “I’ve got a thick skin. Against all odds, I made it to UCLA, and I’m not backing off my demands for justice and equality for all people – Black, Palestinian, all of us. But I’ll be honest – it’s scary to see my name plastered on campus and labeled as a terrorist. I lost sleep the week the posters hit, I missed class, I missed important reading and as a result, I couldn’t answer questions on a midterm. And now he’s going to sue me because I answered back?”
Palestine Legal attorney Liz Jackson underscored that the legal threat is baseless. “Students and journalists should continue to freely express and publish their opinions on Horowitz’s actions. The U.S. Constitution and California law protect Robert Gardner’s right to criticize Horowitz’s use of anti-Arab, anti-Muslim stereotypes,” explained Jackson.
Horowitz has repeatedly boasted about promoting his belief that supporters of Palestinian rights are terrorists as a strategy to intimidate SJP, similar to the way Trump has boasted about his misogynist views. “We have the same message for Horowitz that the New York Times sent to Trump after he threatened to sue the newspaper for reporting on Trump’s treatment of women,” said Jackson. “David Horowitz, if you believe that Robert Gardner has no right to share his views about your public anti-Muslim and anti-Black hate mongering, we would be delighted to see a court inform you otherwise.”
Although the Horowitz Center is widely perceived as an extremist hate group, its strategy bolsters the broader efforts of pro-Israel advocacy organizations, Israeli officials, and U.S. government officials to suppress support for Palestinian rights by branding it antisemitic and pro-terrorist.
Read Horowitz’s legal threat letter to Robert Gardner here.