‘Post’ reporter Khaled Abu Toameh wins defamation case against blogger

Zahran’s campaign against Abu Toameh began in 2013 and continued until 2017, when Abu Toameh sued.

A gavel in a court of law (photo credit: REUTERS)
A gavel in a court of law
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court has ruled in favor of Jerusalem Post reporter Khaled Abu Toameh in his defamation case against Ted Belman, the editor of IsraPundit, a news blog website.
The decision was made earlier this week.
Abu Toameh said he was gratified that Belman would need to retract comments he had written about him.
Belman’s posts on his website and Facebook page relating to “Jordan is Palestine” in which he mentioned Abu Toameh had no factual basis, and he apologized for them, the court said in its ruling.
Furthermore, Belman must post his declaration and apology on his website and send it to his mailing list within 14 days of the ruling, the court said.
Should Belman republish similar baseless charges in the future against Abu Toameh, he can be fined NIS 5,000 for each new post, it said.
Khaled Abu Tomeah (Courtesy)Khaled Abu Tomeah (Courtesy)
The court rejected Belman’s counterclaim against Abu Toameh, who voluntarily agreed to express regret for one negative reference to Belman in response to Belman’s years of defamatory posts.
Mudar Zahran’s campaign against Abu Toameh began in 2013 and continued until 2017, when Abu Toameh sued.
Belman was misled by UK-based fugitive Zahran, Abu Toameh said. Zahran, who describes himself as the secretary-general of the Jordanian Opposition Coalition, was denied entry into Israel in 2019.
According to an Interior Ministry spokesperson, Zahran arrived from the United Kingdom in 2019, was “denied entry due to security reasons” and “flew back [to the UK].”
Zahran has close connections with several far-right Israeli officials. He allegedly was coming to Israel to meet with those officials and with settler leaders. He has advocated for Jordan to be the Palestinian state and reportedly has told right-wingers he is “a viable alternative to the Hashemite monarchy in Jordan.”
Abu Toameh, who is a senior distinguished fellow with Gatestone, said his and the institute’s rejection of Zahran’s views and their belief that Zahran had no real following had led to Zahran seeking revenge, including enlisting Belman and others to disparage him with manufactured charges.
“This was a false, broad and grave character-assassination campaign that was conducted on the Internet and social media, which was baseless and done with malicious intent,” said Nadav Haetzni, Abu Toameh’s lawyer.
An aggressive and comprehensive legal response had been required to clear the improper stain from Abu Toameh’s reputation, he said.
Abu Toameh is an awarding-winning journalist and TV producer who covers Palestinian affairs for the Post. He previously worked as a senior producer for NBC in the Middle East and has reported on events in the West Bank and Gaza Strip for several media outlets.