Yesterday I went to the Supreme Court of Israel with the hope that finally justice would be done and District Court Judge Yosef Shapira’s insulting, ugly, and false judgment against me for copyright infringement (which he called “literary theft” – something which simply does not exist) would be overturned, as was his previous judgment against me in another case.
I had hardly entered the courtroom when Chief Justices Naor, Chayot and Hendel immediately suggested throwing out Judge Shapira’s judgment, calling it “problematic,” and requiring my accuser Sarah Shapiro to pay back all the money she’d received as compensation.
They called it a compromise.
All the Supreme Court asked of me was that if my book ever goes into a new edition, I voluntarily agree to edit out the 29 words and sentence fragments which were the bone of contention between me and my accuser — a haredi woman named Sarah Shapiro, the author of a self-help book in which she describes in great detail her abusive behavior toward her children and her repeated attempts to control her violent temper. Ms. Shapiro claimed she’d invented such scintillating phrases as “I’m sorry” or “perfectly behaved little angels.” I claimed these were commonplace clichés, and I had a perfect right to use them. But in the spirit of compromise, and in order to put an end to more than twenty years of harassment by her, including leaving messages on my answering machine before Yom Kippur that I would burn in Hell, I agreed. I guess I could write: “Gee, I regret that”, or “amazingly disciplined darlings” instead. As one of the Supreme Court Justices said: “It doesn’t seem like any of those phrases are very important to Mrs. Ragen’s book.”
Got that right!
And for this, Sarah and all her haredi friends put me through five years of hell, defaming me all over the internet, newspapers, television and radio. I hope that in this same spirit, Ms. Shapiro will now take out all the phrases in her book she admitted in court that she “borrowed” from other authors (see here for a comparison chart).
I’m glad she’s going to be digging into her pocket to pay this money back (I agreed that it go to charity). It’s not the money I wanted back, but my good name. Thanks to God, the Israeli Supreme Court, my lawyers, and three wise justices, I’ve got that. I also have the honor of having a foolish and dangerous judgment overturned that would have jeopardized the ability of every writer in Israel to do research, consult sources, and express themselves freely without worrying about these debilitating nuisance suits which only enrich the greedy lawyers who encourage gullible clients to file frivolous lawsuits and tell them they have a real chance of winning. In the end, only the lawyers win, leaving people like Ms. Shapiro with nothing.
- These lawsuits were all filed (by the same lawyer) shortly after I began a vocal campaign against the gender-segregated buses (קווי מהדרין) in which women are forced to sit in the back of the bus and I became one of the plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the Egged bus company and the Ministry of Transportation demanding that this demeaning practice be stopped.
- The judge who ruled against me twice and whose decisions were both overturned by the Supreme Court was soon afterwards elected State Comptroller (מבקר המדינה) with the full support of all the ultra-Orthodox (חרדי) political parties. A smart career move?
On a personal note, to all those of you who stuck with me and supported me through these difficult years, I hug you and thank you. To all those “friends” who didn’t, I don’t have any hard feelings. I don’t have any feelings at all. Now I can go back to writing my next book without this heavy burden on my shoulders.
Wish me mazal tov!!