I’ve gotten numerous reports from readers who have attempted to purchase Alms for Jihad from Books a Million and elsewhere, only to have the purchase denied because that title is currently unavailable. That’s because, as Dr. Rachel Ehrenfeld and I discussed earlier this week, Khalid bin Mafouz has successfully bullied the Cambridge University Press into pulping the book. Cambridge has even sent out notices to have it removed from some libraries, and one librarian sent me this note as a comment on that:
I am sending this email because I listened to your interview with Dr. Ehrenfeld this morning. First, kudos to her. My prayers will be with her. I want to make one thing very clear to you from my perspective as a librarian, and I have been working in public libraries since Aug 01: You will never find this book on most public library shelves in America. Libraries–and this is a sad, sad thing that almost stopped me from becoming a librarian–are unabashadly and radically progressive. Simply go to ALA’s website and read some of their politics, especially issues surrounding the Patriot Act. Not hidden, not fair, not balanced. They preach fair access to all ideas without bias with one hand and bash all aspects of any Republican administration with the other. Michael Moore and Al Franken get top billing while Tammy Bruce and Michelle Malkin are not to be found. The bias is inescapable and pernicious. There I times I feel vaguely dirty because I work in such an environment.
So don’t expect public libraries in the US to stand behind Dr. Ehrenfeld and don’t expect them to stand for free speech. She is not bashing Bush, she is not talking diplomacy with the ‘poor misguided jihadists who are only fighting back against our evil imperialistic ways’, and she is telling the truth. All things abhored by the progressive public libraries of the United States.
One more note just arrived in my inbox that I thought I’d share. This is from Bonus Books, publisher of Funding Evil, who is backing Dr. Ehrenfeld and the other authors whose books have been muzzled by libel tourist Khalid bin Mafouz.
AUGUST 3, 2007 (Los Angeles, CA) — Jeffrey A. Stern, President and Publisher of Los Angeles-based Bonus Books, Inc., is speaking out about this week’s decision by Cambridge University Press to destroy all unsold copies of their 2006 book, “Alms for Jihad,” by American authors Robert Collins and J. Millard Burr, in response to a libel action brought against them in British courts by Saudi billionaire Khalid Salim A. Bin Mahfouz. In just one of a series of heavy-handed libel suits against American and British journalists and publishers filed in British courts in recent years, Mahfouz claimed that “Alms for Jihad” wrongly implicates him as having had a significant role in aiding terrorism.
In a similar attempt to halt the distribution of such claims, libel tourist Bin Mahfouz also filed a libel action in British courts against Dr. Rachel Ehrenfeld, after Bonus Books published her 2003 book “FUNDING EVIL: How Terrorism is Financed and How to Stop It.” Ehrenfeld, director of the American Center for Democracy, also alleged Bin Mahfouz of backing organizations with alleged ties to terrorism, a charge that Mahfouz, formerly president of the National Commercial Bank of Saudi Arabia, continues to deny. But Ehrenfeld stands behind her research, and publisher Stern stands by his author.
“I find it utterly appalling that any publisher—let alone one with the history and perceived credibility of Cambridge University Press—would allow themselves to be bullied into making such a decision,” Stern said. “Clearly they must have supported the material before they agreed to a publishing deal with (U.S. authors) Collins and Burr. It’s only now, after being slapped with a suit in the U.K. by the likes of Bin Mahfouz, that they have suddenly decided to concede to demands to pull the book. What’s worse, they have not only agreed to pay damages but they have even gone so far as to issue a formal apology on their website, completely discrediting their authors as having made ‘defamatory allegations’ to which there was ‘no truth whatsoever.’”
“Alms for Jihad” authors Robert O. Collins, a professor emeritus of history at the University of California at Santa Barbara, and J. Millard Burr, a retired employee of the U.S. State Department, who were not personally named in the libel action, have refused to endorse their publisher’s settlement.
“What happened to freedom of the press?” Stern said. “We’re talking about two very credible American writers here. The very idea that these authors could be silenced in the U.S. by a British court is not only outrageous and fraught with frightening journalistic implications, it’s simply un-American.”
After several copies of the U.S.-released FUNDING EVIL happened to be purchased online by UK buyers, Bin Mahfouz filed suit against Ehrenfeld in Great Britain, where outdated libel laws still put the burden of proof on the defendant. Ehrenfeld was ordered to pay £114, 386.52 in fines and expenses, publish an apology and physically destroy her books. Because she is a U.S. citizen who writes and lives in New York City, Ehrenfeld did not acknowledge the British court. Instead, she filed suit in New York, seeking to block enforcement of the judgment, citing it as contrary to the free speech protections that Americans enjoy. In June, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in her favor, finding that Ehrenfeld’s claim CAN be brought before a U.S. court. The decision was hailed by prominent U.S. civil rights attorney Harvey Silverglate as one of “the most important First Amendment cases” of the last quarter century. As a result, every American-based writer and publisher in similar “libel tourism” situations can now seek a U.S. court decision, requesting that a foreign decision not be enforceable in this country.
In a recent Washington Times editorial about the Ehrenfeld case, scholar and Jihad Watch director Robert Spencer noted the release of a September 13, 2001 note from France’s foreign intelligence agency, the DGSE (General Directorate of External Security). He stated that French news site Geopolitique.com obtained the note in late June, revealing that in 1996, Bin Mahfouz was known to be one of the architects of a banking scheme constructed for the benefit of Osama bin Laden. The report also claims that both U.S. and British intelligence services had knowledge of this. “This is just the latest addition to the mountain of evidence from which Miss Ehrenfeld constructed her case in ‘Funding Evil,’” Spencer writes. “Even if this evidence is all mistaken, the British libel judgment against Ehrenfeld appears all the more fantastic and unjustifiable in light of the fact that French intelligence agents had documents allowing them to come to the same conclusion she did.”
Ehrenfeld, who is also a Member of the Board of Directors of the Committee on the Present Danger (www.fightingterror.org), told the Chronicle of Higher Education on Monday that she finds Cambridge University Press’ decision “despicable,” and that as she understands it, they “caved immediately.” If and when the New York Court of Appeals decides that there is jurisdiction over Bin Mahfouz, Ehrenfeld’s case would proceed on its merits—allowing Ehrenfeld to conduct pre-trial “discovery” of Bin Mahfouz’s financial activities to further confirm the accuracy of her claims against him.
“We commend Rachel Ehrenfeld for being strong-willed on this issue,” Stern said. “Allowing this sort of ‘libel tourism’ to continue stands to negatively impact every writer and publisher and the U.S.—not to mention the public, who is effectively being forced to fall victim to an insidious and unacceptable form of censorship.”
The message here: We will not submit. Good for Bonus Books for standing up for free speech.
Update: Clint reports from Stanford U.
Since I was going by Stanford’s Green Library, I popped down to check out Alms For Jihad before the Cambridge Cowardice Cave-In Press had it yanked for pulping. The online catalog said it was in the South Stacks, call number HV435.B87.
It ain’t there. I went up to file a “book search” request with the librarian who said they’ve had it for a year, they hadn’t recorded a pull order from the publisher, and the book had never been checked out. It ought to be there.
I’m sure it will turn up in a day or two.
Yeah. Me too.
Update: Apparently you can no longer purchase the electronic version of Alms for Jihad.
I just wanted to let you know, however, that when I attempted to purchase the download version of “Alms for Jihad” from the EBook Impressions link posted last night by Miss_Anthrope in a comment on the “Updated Alms for Jihad” blog, my order was processed, credit card approved and receipt received, but upon clicking the download link, I received the following error:
“Fulfillment Server (OFS) – Error Page
We’re sorry, but an error has occurred while attempting to download your eBook.
Error 0x 80040e14 : Failed call to fulfill the title.
Error Details: The requested title is not available. bookimpressions.com/admin/layout/sitepages.asp bookimpressions.com/admin/layout/sitepages.asp bookimpressions.com/admin/layout/sitepages.asp bookimpressions.com/admin/layout/sitepages.asp
If this problem persists, please contact customer support.”
Perhaps you could let your readers know.
I am awaiting a response from EBook Impressions.