ICANN debates action after community member’s antisemitic comments

Organization says community member violated Expected Standards of Behavior.

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ICANN is debating what to do after someone deeply entrenched in the domain name ecosystem made highly controversial remarks about Jews.

The issue came to light after ICANN community member Jeffrey Neuman sent a letter (pdf) (and follow up) highlighting comments made by Talal Abu-Ghazaleh. In a TV interview, Abu-Ghazaleh stated:

The Jews do not have any ideology. All they care about is money and interests. I had a friend who was a German cabinet member. I once asked him: ‘When Hitler, may God forgive him, carried out the Holocaust, why didn’t he finish the job and kill all the Jews?’ He said to me: ‘It’s the other way around, but don’t tell anyone I said this. He left a group of them on purpose, so that people would know why we carried out the Holocaust. When you would be tormented by them, you would know the reason.

Abu-Ghazaleh is a well-known intellectual property practitioner and founder of the Talal Abu-Ghazaleh Organization (TAG-Org). He has several interests connected to ICANN:

  • TAG-Org hosts an instance of ICANN’s L Root in Jordan
  • Two non-profits Abu Ghazaleh chairs formed the UDRP provider Arab Center for Dispute Resolution in Intellectual Property
  • He is affiliated with the ICANN-accredited registrar TAG-Domains
  • His law firm represents Complainants in UDRPs (and has a rather poor record)

In a response (pdf) to Neuman on December 26, ICANN interim CEO Sally Costerton called Abu-Ghazaleh’s comments “beyond offensive or objectionable” and that “We want to make it absolutely clear that hate speech has no place in ICANN’s multistakeholder process, and that Talal Abu Ghazaleh’s statements violate ICANN’s Expected Standards of Behavior.”

Costerton said that ICANN is trying to figure out how it can respond using ICANN’s policies and processes. ICANN has contacted Talal Abu-Ghazaleh and TAG-Org to inform them that the comments violate ICANN’s Expected Standards of Behavior and has referred the matter to ICANN’s Office of the Ombuds.

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