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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Former student files suit against Hillel official

    A libel trial began yesterday between a former UA student and a graduate student who associated him with the Nazi swastika in an Arizona Daily Wildcat letter to the editor.

    Jonathan Brigham, who describes himself as a Jewish American who opposes Israeli mistreatment of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, is the plaintiff in a suit filed in Pima County Supervisor Court against Bruce Herniter, a member of the board of directors of the UA Hillel Foundation, an on-campus Jewish organization.

    Brigham, who graduated from the UA in 1988, is suing Herniter, a management and information systems graduate student, over a letter to the editor from Herniter, which appeared in the Oct 31, 1989 edition of the Wildcat. The letter associated Brigham with the Nazi swastika.

    In the letter, Herniter wrote that he saw Brigham at an October 1988 protest at Temple Anshai Israel in Tucson with others who were protesting a speech given by the Israeli ambassador to the United States.

    Herniter wrote that Brigham “”was helping organize the crowd,”” and linked Brigham to swastikas Herniter saw on protester’s signs.

    “”You see, it’s important that when you show up to a synagogue with swastikas on your signs that you place them to make your message as clear as possible,”” Herniter wrote.

    Brigham filed the libel suit against Herniter because being linked to the swastika is damaging to Brigham’s reputation, said William Risner, Brigam’s attorney.

    During yesterday’s trial in Superior Court, Risner asked witnesses of the October 1988 protest whether they had seen any signs with swastikas on them.

    Five witnesses, including Brenda Morrison, assistant director of the UA Hillel Foundation,testified that they were at the October 1988 protest and saw no signs containing swastikas.

    When Risner asked Herniter if he saw any signs with swastikas on them, Herniter replied, “”I believe I did.””

    During yesterday’s trial witnesses were shown several photographs and slides of the October 1988 protest and on Oct. 18. 1989 protest.

    The 1989 protest involved supporters of Palestinians clashing with Hillel Foundation members after Hillel initially denied them access to a luncheon for an Israeli army colonel. It was that protest that prompted Herniter to write the letter to the editor.

    Some of the signs in photographs and slides shown at the trial contained variations of the world “”Nazi”” but none contained a swastika.

    Judge Pro Tem Richard Nichols said yesterday he expects closing arguments to be made tomorrow, after which an eight-member jury will decide the case.

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