Here is a succinct explanation of "defamation" in the non-profit setting:
"A corporation is defamed if material is published about that corporation that would tend to negatively impact its standing in the business in which it operates. Although a company or corporation is not considered to have a reputation in the sense that an individual does, statements that would impact the public’s view of a company’s financial soundness or managerial integrity are generally considered defamatory to a company’s business reputation. A company or corporation may sue for defamation if such statements would tend to deter others from dealing with it."Hypothetically, then, would it be defamatory if Non-Profit A were to state publicly that Non-Profit "B" had lost its 501(c)(3) -- simply stated, were the allegation true the statement would not be defamatory (truth being an absolute defense); were the statement untrue, Non-Profit "B" might have a defamation claim.
Or, another pure hypothecation: Non-Profit "C" states publicly that Non-Profit "B" serves no valid non-profit purpose other than as a vehicle for promotion of its CEO. Again, were the allegation true, the statement would not be defamatory in law; were the statement demonstrably false, Non-Profit "B" might have a claim.
And, what exactly happened here? Well, according to the JTA (the article is must read) ZOA has issued statements in the recent past accusing HIAS and the NCJW of being "far left" and its leaders "extremists" and the ADL of supporting Black Lives Matter, which it does not do. I am not sure from the article what the basis of the ZOA clounterclaim might be.
And, what might the Conference of Presidents role be? Under the Conference governing principles, the parties have agreed to non-disparagement of each other. A closed hearing may be demanded by an offended party. and, that's where we are.
The ZOA CEO as reported by JTA: "What kind of ruling (is that), that we can't say whatever we think is right? I'm not going to agree to be restricted from saying what I believe."*
I was sure that in the era of leaks, we will all know everything pretty soon after the "hearing." Uh huh. Immediately after the "secret" Conference "hearing," JTA reported:
I sense some sarcasm, yes? https://www.jta.org/2018/05/15/news-opinion/united-states/jewish-groups-fighting-private-things-say-public?utm_source=JTA Maropost&utm_campaign=JTA&utm_medium=email&mpweb=1161-4330-27384
Then JTA reported -- These Jewish Groups Are Fighting -- -- Even Physically, According to Some...-- getting quotes from the ZOA and ADL "representatives" from the supposedly confidential hearing. Read the lengthy article at https://www.jta.org/2018/05/15/.../jewish-groups-fighting-private-things-say-public
And one of the parties continued the public insults of another post-hearing.
Can't wait to learn what happens next.
* I note the confusion of"we" and "I" in this quote.