Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Rabbi Yisrael Rosen Wins Libel Suit Against "Yated Ne'eman"

22 Marcheshvan 5769

Here's some more fallout from the disengagement: Rabbi Yisrael Rosen took the "Yated Ne'eman" newspaper to court for libel, and he won. I know. What does this have to do with the disengagement?

The story starts way back in the beginning of 2005. The Israeli government makes one of the stupidest decisions ever, the decision to to destroy the Jewish towns in the Gaza Strip, and to withdraw the army from it. The name that they gave to this crime was "disengagement". The National Religious Party (NRP) leaves the coalition, and the United Torah Judaism (UTJ) party joins the coalition. Rabbi Yisrael Rosen, a well known NR rabbi, writes a column in the Shabbat BeShabbato parsha sheet deeply critical of the UTJ. Among other things he writes the following:

"ואומר מיד, עם נציג הפלג החסידי אין לי כלל דין ודברים, "כי השוחד יעוור..ויסלף דברי צדיקים", כולל 'צדיקים' (=אדמו"רים). ומה לנו שוחד יותר מקופת המדינה כולה, הממושכנת כערובה אצל יו"ר ועדת הכספים...".
My translation:
"And I will say immediately, that with the Hasidic faction (of UTJ) I have nothing to deliberate with them at all, 'for a bribe doth blind the eyes of the wise, and pervert the words of the righteous.', including 'Tzadikim' (=Hasidic Rebbes). And what is a bigger bribe than the purse of the entire country, which is mortgaged as a guarantee with the Chairman of the Finance Committee (of the Knesset)."

These words upset the people at Yated Ne'eman very much. A scathing article about Rabbi Rosen appeared in the satirical section of the paper. This is the quote caused Yated Ne'eman to lose the case:

"אם כבר מזכירים גיור המוני, מן הראוי לציין, כי את תחילת דרכו המקורית עשה הרב רוזן בהפעלת פס ייצור לגיורים המוניים, באמצעות שיטת הוקוס- פוקוס. השיטה היתה פשוטה בתכלית: נרשמים, משלמים במזומן, שומעים כל מיני הרצאות בנושאי יהדות-בדרכי-נועם, לומדים תפריטים נבחרים מהמטבח היהודי, עוברים עוד אי-אילו עניינים פרוצדוראליים, קופצים למים, ו...הוקוס-פוקוס: אתה יהודי חילוני כשר. ברוכים הבאים לעם הנצח.
Again the translation according to your's truly:
If we are mentioning mass conversion, it is proper to point out that the beginning of Rabbi Rosen's original path was the running of an assembly line for mass conversions, using the hocus-pocus method. The method was ultimatively simple: you register, you pay cash, you hear all kinds of lectures about ways-of-pleasantness-Judaism, you learn selected menus from the Jewish kitchen, you go through a few procedural matters, you jump into the water and... hocus-pocus: you are a kosher secular Jew. Welcome to the nation of eternity.

The judge, Shirli Renner, wrote the following about this:

הצגת התובע, שהינו רב, כמי שמספק הכשרים לעקיפת ההלכה תמורת בצע כסף נועדה להשפיל ולבזות את התובע. הנתבעים בתצהיריהם לא הניחו כל תשתית ראייתית ולפיה מצג עובדתי זה הוא בגדר אמת. מדובר אפוא בפרסום שאין כל ראייה לאמיתותו ולפיו מספק הרב הכשרים הילכתיים בשל תאוות ממון. סבורה אני כי אמירות אלו הן בגדר לשון הרע.
That is to say in Mamme Loshon:
The presentation of the plaintiff, who is a rabbi, as one who supplies certification for the circumventing of Jewish law in return for money was intended to humiliate and put down the plaintiff. The defendants in their declarations did not bring any proof that this presentation is true. Therefore we are dealing with a publication that has no proof to (back up) its truthfulness, which according to it the rabbi provides halachic certification out of the desire for money . I am of the opinion that these statements are in the realm of libel.

A bizarre aspect of the case is that the rabbinic committee of Yated Ne'eman, which is supposed to be a spiritual supervising body of the paper, instructed the editors to react to Rabbi Rosen's article in the satirical section of the newspaper . Even more bizarre is that Yated Ne'eman claimed in its defense that the article is not libelous since it appeared in this satirical section of the newspaper. The judge did not accept this claim.

The bottom line is that Yated Ne'eman - Yeteidot Publications, Yisrael Wertzel (Wortzel?), Yitzchak Rot, and Natan Grossman were found by Judge Renner to be responsible for the libelous publication. The amount of damages will be set at a later hearing.

I can understand how the Yated Ne'eman newspaper, and the public which they serve, would be offended by Rabbi Rosen's article. But that does not justify printing things about Rabbi Rosen that have no basis in fact. I hope that the amount of damages will be high enough to deter the newspaper and others from publishing things that are so distant from the Torah that they purport to represent.

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...