Regular readers will know all about the dispute I have had with the pro-war writer and blogger Oliver Kamm, which started when the Daily Telegraph published my critical review of Kamm’s book ‘Anti-Totalitarianism’ in 2005.
A resume of this tawdry affair can be found here.
Faced with what I think most objective observers would agree was a clear and malicious attempt by Kamm to jeopardise my journalistic career, I had no option but to initiate legal proceedings for defamation. I did so in the County Court, not having the financial wherewithal to launch an action in the High Court. For procedural reasons (an action for defamation can only be heard in the County Court if the defendant agrees, and Kamm didn’t) the case did not come to court.
In November, Kamm resumed hostilities with this post on his blog. Kamm endeavoured to portray himself as the victim, the champion of free speech who had been threatened by a litigious journalist who wanted to silence the right of bloggers to express an opinion. Kamm’s version of events was repeated by other websites supportive of his pro-war views, such as Harry’s Place and of course the web-blog of his friend and collaborator Stephen Pollard.
Let’s remind ourselves of the very words Kamm used in his posting of November:
“I consider it wrong in principle and self-defeating for a writer to threaten legal action against a blogger, and cannot imagine realistic circumstances in which I would do so”.
Ever thinking of the common good, Kamm informed his readers:
“I defended the case, and have voluntarily borne costs that are not trivial, because an action that would have had the effect of restricting free comment would otherwise have succeeded by default. Blogging would be a less free medium than it is, and than I hope it will continue to be, if I had acceded to Mr Clark’s demand”.
Harry’s Place chimed in: “ The rest of us owe Oliver Kamm thanks for his decision to use his own money to help preserve the right to express opinions without fear of vexatious litigation”.
Yet, I can reveal that by the time he had written the above sentences, Kamm had already threatened legal action against a blogger named ‘Sonic‘ who writes a blog named ‘Hitchens Watch’, for comments Sonic had left on another website. Details of the exchange can be found here:
And this week, there’s even more damning evidence of Kamm’s hypocrisy. On Wednesday Kamm threatened to launch legal proceedings, within 24 hours, against the pro-Israel Canadian website Israpundit if the site failed to remove comments made by readers regarding Kamm’s defence of the extremist Bosnian Islamist and former Nazi recruiter Alija Izetbegovic.
Here are copies of all the relevant emails, including Kamm‘s emails to the Israpundit in which he delivers his ultimatum.
Original Message -----
From: "Oliver Kamm" <email@example.com>
Sent: Tuesday, February 06, 2007 5:44 AM
Subject: From Oliver Kamm
Dear Mr Belman,
My attention has been drawn to comments left on your site, "IsraPundit",in the last few days by what appear to be regular contributors. The comments are attached to a piece by the British journalist Melanie Phillips, who mentionsme in passing. The context of the comments (irrelevantly to Melanie's article) is the Balkan wars of the 1990s, in which I was a supporter of Western militaryintervention against the aggression of Slobodan Milosevic.
Your contributors, instead of stating factually my position on this issue,call me an "Islamist wolf" who "pretends to be pro-Israel" but is an "enemyof the Jewish people". Beyond these characteristics - which according toyour contributors I share with the Canadian Liberal politician and writeron human rights Michael Ignatieff, so I am at least in distinguished company- I am supposedly a supporter of "Nazi mass murderers of Jews and Serbs inBosnia and Kosovo" and defend "genocide and ethnic cleansing".
There are numerous ludicrous and abusive accusations against me in obscurecorners on the Internet, and my unvarying practice is to ignore them evenin cases of obvious defamation. But these vile remarks on your site, whichyour contributors will be completely unable to substantiate with reference to anything I have said or written, go far beyond anything I am prepared to let pass without protest. I do not believe in censorship of your contributors'political opinions, but I certainly request that you make it clear on yoursite that you deprecate such libels, and that there will be no repetitionof them. This should be done in your own words and not by reproducing thisemail, otherwise it will not be the statement of editorial position thatit needs to be.The article and comments are here: http://www.israpundit.com/2006/?p=3845
Original Message -----
Sent: Tuesday, February 06, 2007 11:14 PM
Subject: Re: From Oliver Kamm
Allow me to clarify some facts first. I myself know very little regarding the Balkans.
Their comments allege,
"Beware of the Islamist wolf, Oliver Kamm. Anyone who can support the Bosnian Islamofascist mass murderer, Alija Izetbegovic, is no real friend of the Jews or Israel despite the abundant layers of sheeps clothing.
Kamm, as a supposed friend of the Jews, even has the brazen audacity to defend Izetbegovic’s genocide against the Christian Serbs during the 90’s and even denies Izetbegovic’s WW2 SS Nazi Muslim “Handzar” division background as an SS auxiliary member of this notorious division, via his recruiting activities in the Islamist Nazi Bosnian “Young Muslims” organization, in early 1943!
Izetbegovic acted as an SS auxiliary by volunteering as a prime recruiter for the 20,000 plus strong Himmler-created Waffen SS “Handzar” division during WW2 in Bosnia.Kamm denies this irrefutable fact of history.
50 years later, in early 1993, Izetbegovic even named his 6,000 plus strong personal praetorian body guards the “Handzar” division in honor of the WW2 Handzar Muslim SS division which was notorious for its heinous atrocities against Serbs, Jews and Roma!!
Kamm of course either denies or tries to whitewash all of this by giving it his own personal “spin” on history.
If Kamm can support Islamofascism in Bosnia over a period of 15 years, he cannot be trusted not to support it in the Middle East, despite outward appearances."
Are you taking the position that Izetbegovic isn't an islamofascist or that when you supported him that you didn't know about him.
Did you in fact defend Izetbegovic as alleged in the second paragraph ?
Or are you saying that though you supported Izetbegovic who you knew to be an Islamofascist that doesn't make you an "enemy of the Jews"
Do you deny his background as alleged. If so was it because you didn't know? If so do you accept it now and have you acknowleged it?
It is also alleged that you deny that there is a Jihad against the Serbs? Do you?
It is further alleged that
"both Kamm & Ignatieff have defended the Ceku/Haradinaj/Thaci KLA Islamofascists in Kosovo and the Izetbegovic SDA Islamofascists in Bosnia in their genocide and ethnic cleansing of 350,000 people - including the brutal expulsion of the entire Jewish community in Pristina - since EU/NATO troops & UN officials took over the province of Kosovo in June ‘99).
Is this allegation false? If so, on what basis? Is it because you didn't do it or because they are not Islamofascists?
In any event, I will ask them "to substantiate with reference to anything I have said or written, "
Please answer my questions while they attempt to substantiate the case against you if they can.
Depending on what they substantiate and what you articulate with respect to my questions I will be happy to set the record straight.
From: Oliver Kamm
Sent: Tuesday, February 06, 2007 9:45 PM
Subject: Re: From Oliver Kamm
Having read your commendation of the work of the "Srebrenica Research Group" on the victims of the Srebrenica massacre, I agree that you know next to nothing about the Balkans.
When you make or publish grave accusations against someone - and there could be no more grave charge against a political commentator than that he supports "Nazi mass murderers" and defends genocide and ethnic cleansing - then the onus is on you to demonstrate your case rather than engage in the casuistry of demanding from the victim of those libels that he prove a negative. To make your task easier, I am providing you with the sole comment I have ever put in the public domain on the subject of the late Alia Izetbegovic. It is to report the judgement - which I solicited directly - of the Cambridge historian Marko Attila Hoare, a specialist in Balkan history, on the allegation concerning Izetbegovic's war record: "Marko could find no direct source [substantiating the claim]. The closest he could get to it was a claim that the Serbian historian Milan Bulajic - a genuine if not entirely objective authority on the Croatian Ustashe - wrote to the journalist David Binder, claiming he had found a transcript of Izetbegovic's 1946 trial, in which the prosecution alleged that Izetbegovic had recruited for the SS during WW2, and Izetbegovic made no attempt to deny it, but merely excused himself on the grounds of his extreme youth. Marko is careful not to rule out the possibility that this is true, and Bulajic is a credible source, but as things stand, this is merely third-hand hearsay."
I would ask that you now either substantiate your contributors' allegations against me or publish a proper retraction within 24 hours. I am taking the liberty of forwarding this exchange to Dr Hoare. If I have heard nothing from you by this time tomorrow, I shall in addition forward it to my legal representatives, Charles Russell LLP of London.
Original Message -----
To: Oliver Kamm
Sent: Wednesday, February 07, 2007 9:22 PM
Subject: Re: From Oliver Kamm
Let me say at the outside that the persons making the claims of which you complain do so out of knowledge and research rather than surmize and conjecture.
- that Izetbegovic was an Islamofascist, mass murderer and ethnic cleanser.
- you supported him as did much of the western world.
- ergo, you support Islamofascists.
- and finally anyone who supports Islamofascists is an enemy of Israel and the Jews.
Oliver Kamm refuses to deny that Alija Izetbegovic was an Islamist Nazi PUBLICLY dedicated to Genocide of Non-Muslims (Serbs)
Is this correct.? You certainly considered Milosovic the "aggressor".
So the only question is, does this amount to a support of "Nazi mass murderers" or to a defense of genocide and ethnic cleansing?
Please see Played like Fiddle and the links included the first of which goes to the issue of Izetbegovics past. Someof the comments are also instructive.
I am sure you are aware of this article.
Oliver Kamm, Marko Attila Hoare, and the Importance of Being Able to Read
I have also attached an email I received from Nathan Pearlstein one of the author of one of the comments you complain about.
In North America where I reside the onus is on you to prove the libel. I know it is different in the UK.
I have no problem publishing a statement that sets out Israpundit's position. But first, I must understand the facts and the law. If the people making the comments of which you complain honestly believe the accusation, are they guilty of libel. Or does everything depend on whether the people you support i.e. the Kosovo Albanians are in fact Nazi mass murderers and ethnic cleansers.
Do I err in thinking that since you supported the Nato intervention against the "aggressor "Milosovic, that equates to support of Izetbegovic and the Kosovo Albanians?
I any event these comments may well be too aggressive and far reaching. I am working on it.
Kamm, the man who felt at liberty to defame me on his own blog, just over a year ago, and who was happy for his untrue allegations to be published across the internet, is it seems, rather less relaxed over allegations made on the Internet about himself.
“There could be no more grave charge against a political commentator than that he supports "Nazi mass murderers" and defends genocide and ethnic cleansing” he protests.
Really? Yet for the past thirteen months that’s how Kamm and his close allies Stephen Pollard, ‘David T’ of Harry’s Place and MarkoAttila-Hoare have routinely referred to me, sometimes substituting the ‘Nazi’ for ‘fascist’/Stalinist and often adding the word ‘dictator’ too.
“The onus is on you to demonstrate your case rather than engage in the casuistry of demanding from the victim of those libels that he prove a negative”, claims Kamm, yet when he and his allies label me, (and others who don’t share their anti-Yugoslavia perspective on Balkan affairs), an ‘apologist for genocide’, or a ‘hero-worshipper of a mass murderer’, they feel under no such obligation to ‘demonstrate’ their case. (I have emailed Kamm and Pollard on more than one occasion asking them to produce evidence that Slobodan Milosevic was guilty of genocide/ mass murder/starting wars of aggression and my emails have either been ignored or replied to in an offhand, dismissive manner).
After receiving his threatening email, ‘Sonic’ accused Kamm of being a ‘fraud, an intellectually bully and a pompous ass’.
Whether or not Kamm is a ‘fraud’, I make no comment, except to say that a man who defends someone who wrote that “the first and most important conclusion” from the Koran was “the impossibility of any connection between Islamic and non-Islamic systems” and who then promotes himself as an enemy of Islamic extremism, is guilty of inconsistency at the very least.
But even those who share his enthusiasm for military interventions now must concede that in addition to being an intellectually bully and a pompous ass, Oliver Kamm has also been exposed as a glaring hypocrite.
Kamm obviously hasn't heard of the old adage 'if you're in a hole stop digging'. Clearly rattled by his exposure as a glaring hypocrite he has been posting furiously in the last 24 hours on his blog. He's now come up with this classic line: "I have never remotely considered threatening - let alone actually threatened - legal action against a blogger".
That'll certainly be news to Sonic and Ted Belman of Israpundit!
LATEST: Kamm has now posted 10 times on his blog since his hypocrisy was exposed 48 hours ago! This from a man who rarely posts at weekends!
Here's some excellent commentary from The Exile.