A libel lawsuit launched by a pro-Palestinian activist against B’nai Brith Canada has been settled.
“Today, I am pleased to announce the settlement of my defamation action against B’nai Brith Canada,” Dimitri Lascaris wrote on his website on Sept. 6. “As part of the settlement, the parties have agreed to delete the materials complained of and B’nai Brith’s insurer has agreed to compensate me for my legal fees (and) disbursements.”
Lascaris told The CJN he had no further comment.
The case dates to 2016 when B’nai Brith published an article and a tweet alleging Lascaris, then justice critic for the Green Party of Canada, had used social media “to advocate on behalf of terrorists who have murdered Israeli civilians” following a trip he made to Israel in the spring of 2016.
The Jewish advocacy group told The CJN in 2018 that it became aware of Lascaris after he proposed a motion to support the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel at the Green Party’s convention two years earlier. The party adopted the policy in August 2016 and re-worded it in a compromise reached four months later.
Following the adoption of the BDS motion, B’nai Brith said it looked into Lascaris’s earlier visit to Israel and learned that he had met with Muhammad Alayan, a lawyer and the father of Bahaa Alayan.
Bahaa Alayan was a Palestinian man who was killed by Israeli authorities after he allegedly launched an attack that left three Israeli civilians dead and others injured.
In subsequent Facebook posts, Lascaris said Bahaa Alayan’s killing had been extrajudicial, that Israel had not returned his body, and that “whatever Bahaa Alayan may or may not have done, the Israeli government’s treatment of Muhammad Alayan is an outrage.”
Lascaris sued for libel after B’nai Brith published its statements about his social media posts. The organization moved to dismiss the action under Ontario’s 2015 anti-SLAPP legislation, which seeks to block lawsuits intended to stifle speech and legitimate criticism of matters in the public interest.
B’nai Brith succeeded in Ontario’s Superior Court but that decision was overturned by the province’s Court of Appeal, which reinstated Lascaris’s suit.
Last October, the Supreme Court of Canada declined to hear an appeal from B’nai Brith.
“The settlement is made without admission of liability (and) is being made in order to avoid significant litigation costs to take the matter to trial,” B’nai Brith said in a statement sent to The CJN. “The parties have removed the relevant online posts.”
Lascaris, a lawyer, has been involved in several pro-Palestinian activities. He has been counsel to the organizers of the annual al-Quds Day rally and represented the plaintiff in a legal bid to forbid wines made in Jewish settlements from being labeled as products of Israel. He was also a leading presence in a noisy protest pitting pro-Palestinian and Jewish groups outside B’nai Brith’s Toronto headquarters in 2018.
In July, Ontario’s Court of Appeal ruled a defamation suit may proceed against B’nai Brith for suggesting the Canadian Union of Postal Workers supports Palestinian terrorism.