A University Press Stands Up — and Wins





Yale University Press on Wednesday announced that a libel suit against it and one of its authors has been dropped, without any changes being made in the book or any payments to the plaintiffs. The book in question is about Hamas and comes just weeks after Cambridge University Press settled a libel case against it over a book about Islamic terrorism by promising to destroy remaining copies of the book.

The cases are notably different in that Cambridge was sued in Britain (where libel protections for authors and publishers are much weaker than those in the United States) and Yale was able to file motions in California courts, which have stronger libel protections for authors and publishers than much of the United States. But the fact that Yale took a strong legal stance on a book about Hamas is likely to cheer scholars of terrorism, some of whom have been deeply concerned that the Cambridge settlement would prompt other presses to back down if sued.

The book over which Yale was sued is Hamas: Politics, Charity, and Terrorism in the Service of Jihad, by Matthew Levitt, who is director of the Stein Program on Terrorism, Intelligence and Policy at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. While some observers have distinguished between Hamas’s terrorist activities and the group’s social service activities with Palestinians, Levitt’s argument is that they are in fact intertwined. Yale’s description of the book says: “Levitt demolishes the notion that Hamas’ military, political, and social wings are distinct from one another and catalogues the alarming extent to which the organization’s political and social welfare leaders support terror. He exposes Hamas as a unitary organization committed to a militant Islamist ideology, urges the international co


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