In Petah Tikva Civil Case : 23862-03-13
In the matter of: Bnei Baruch Association R.A 58029753
of 112 Jabotinsky Street, PT 49517
|PetahTikva Magistrate and Family Court
Signature: _____________ (14)
By representatives Zvi Gelman Adv. and/or Dafna Azulai – Regev et al. of Ariel Shemer and Co. Lawyers
Of 3 Daniel Frish St. Tel Aviv 64731
Tel: 03-6091001; Fax: 03-6091002
of 31 Gilboa st. Kohav Yair
by representativeIshay Shenydor , Adv.
of 45 Yehuda Ha’Levi St. Tel Aviv 65157
Tel: 077-5472001 Fax: 077-5472003
Nature of Lawsuit: compensation, compensation without proof of damage, Injunctions, Punitive Expenses, Increased Expenses and minimum attorney Expenses.
Lawsuit Amount: 300,000 NIS
- The Plaintiff shall be represented in this lawsuit by its representative as it appears in the title.
- All claims in this Complaint are being argued in aggregation or alternatively, in their context and connection.
- The Parties
- The Plaintiff, Bnei Baruch Organization (hereafter and above: “The Plaintiff” and/or “The Organization”) is an organization lawfully registered with the offices of the Organization Registry in Israel.
- The Organization is a non-commercial organization (non for profit organization) that deals with the teaching and distribution of the wisdom of Kabalah in Israel and the world. The Organization operates a teaching curriculum and other activities to 2 million followers worldwide. In order to maintain the purity of its intentions and independence The Organization is not being supported, funded or is connected to any government office and/or other political entity.
- The defendant Mr. Aaron Applebaum (hereafter: “The Defendant”).
- The subject of this lawsuit is a strong and direct case of false, slanderous and degrading publications, made by The Defendant, that contain strong accusations against The Plaintiff, claims that have nothing to do with reality.
- Regardless of the actual facts The Defendant published slanderous accusations that lack any basis of truth against The Plaintiff, while slandering and debasing it, with the purpose of presenting it as a cult, that enslaves people, hurts people, and for that purpose even makes use of the Israeli education system in an improper manner, against any worthy ethical and public norm.
- All with the purpose of harming The Plaintiff as much as possible, debasing it and damaging its good reputation, to harm it and to ridicule and excommunicate it in the public’s eye.
- These prohibited actions by The Defendant against The Plaintiff constitute a prohibited defamation that causes The Plaintiff great and substantial damages.
- Due to these things, this lawsuit was filed, and was filed lawfully.
- Factual Background
- On 12.26.2012 The Defendant approached Mrs. Dalit Shtauber, the CEO of the Ministry of Education, in a letter with the title of: “Ligdol Bekeif” (Growing up the fun way)– problematic material as approved curriculum for elementary school (hereafter: “The Letter”).
- In addition to Mrs. Shtauber, The Defendant copied the following officials to his letter: Mr. Gideon Sa’ar – Minister of Education, Mrs. Orna Simhon – Northern District Director in the Ministry of Education, Mr. Yair Odem – The Department of Education manager in Tivon, Mr. Yossi Shitrit – the principal of Rimonim Elementary School, Mrs. Hana Shadmi – Director of Shaf”y (department of educational Psychology), Mrs. Rachel Lichtenstein – the director of the Center for Cult Victims , and Mrs. Efrat Sharabi – the coordinator of Knesset – Government relations at the Ministry of Social Affairs and Social Services (who is also responsible for monitoring cultic activity in Israel).
- As it became evident to the Plaintiff’s astonishment, this was a harsh, slanderous and degrading Letter about The Plaintiff, in it The Defendant wrote, among others, the following harsh statements about The Plaintiff, that are emphasized in bold and underlined:
13.1 “Lately a comprehensive investigation concerning “HaKabalah La’Am” that is headed by Michael Leitman was published in Haaretz newspaper; and in the past the the television show “Uvda” (fact) followed the organization as well. Both of these investigations join many other news reports that were accumulated on the topic, and that shed light over the cultish characteristic of the organization, that presents itself as an orginisation dedicated to the “teaching and distribution of the Kabalah wisdom”, while in fact, its hidden agenda is to control its members and to accumulate power”.
13.2 “Similarly to other cults, “HaKabalah La’Am” leads its followers to a life of dependency and enslavement. This is a clear hierarchical system that produces the thinking form of “us” vs “them”. Us – the members of the cult, the knowledgeable, the people of the “good”; and them – the world in general, that lives without the knowledge of how to controll the evil inclination. This division allows “us” – the members of the cult – to lie to the outside world, and to not reveal the true objectives of The Organization, that are mainly missionary.
Furthermore, the rift between “us” and “them” leads to the disconnection of the cult members from their families. It is known that such a disconnect is essential for cult leaders, in order to create a new identity for their followers; an identity that can be controlled by the cult leaders..
The day-to-day life of the “HaKabalah La’Am” members is completely controlled by the cult leader and his close circle. This way, for example, the members are forced to participate in the classes that Leitman regularly teaches very late at night. Seep deprivation is a known method of cult leaders used in order to control their people.”
13.3 Now, that I have heard about the penetration of the cult into the government education system, as a concerned citizen I feel obligated to warn, and obliged to remove the smiling mask of “Ligdol BeKeif” (Growing up the fun way) Mutual Support, love, Consideration, Integral Education and to reveal the true face behind it. “Kabalah La’am” is a cult; established, organized and rich. Contrary to small cults, that recruit their people by “word of mouth” the recruitment of “Kabalah La’am” is methodological and planned. Similarly to Scientology (and perhaps by its influence) the “Kabalah La’Am” sends long arms into the education system, while at the basis of this move stands the assumption that the road to the hearts, souls and pocketbooks of the parents – runs through their children.
As a society we cannot allow ourselves to cooperate passively with the goals of the this organization. We should not assist the cult in paving its way into the mainstream of our children’s education.
A copy of the letter from 12.26.2012 is attached to the Complaint, Marked A.
- This complaint is filed against each and every one of the severe, debasing, false and prohibited publications of The Defendants regarding The Plaintiff, that are quoted and emphasized in bold and underline in sections 13.1 – 13.3 above.
(hereafter: “The Severe, Debasing, False and Prohibited Publications”).
- The Severe, Debasing, False and Prohibited Publications as quoted above are a low severe, and strong libel against The Plaintiff, and present The Plaintiff in a false, slanderous and demeaning manner.
- The Severe, Debasing, False and Prohibited Publications which were made by the Defendant intentionally, maliciously, and with extreme bad faith, while crushing the good reputation of The Plaintiff, slandering and debasing it, whilst knowing that the statements were untrue with the intention to cause as much damage to The Plaintiff as possible, to debase it and harm its good name. As stated above, the publications were performed by The Defendant, while distributing it to a wide distribution list to various officials, all intentionally and maliciously.
- In light of the above, The Plaintiff approached The Defendant on 1.28.2013 in a letter by its representative for the serious libel made by The Defendant, in which it demanded that The Plaintiff retracts his words and apologizefor The Severe, Debasing, False and Prohibited Publications.
A copy of letter of The Plaintiff’s representative from 1.28.2013 is hereto attached to the complaint, Marked B.
- The Defendant replied through his representative in a letter from 2.5.2013 and 2.12.2013.
Copies of the letters of The Defendant’s representative are hereby attached and marked C1 and 2 respectively.
- As stems from the letter of The Defendant’s representative from 2.12.2013 instead of acting as required in the letter of The Plaintiff’s representative, and to minimize the severe damage that The Defendant caused to The Plaintiff through his defaming publications, The Defendant chose to continue and slander The Plaintiff in a blunt and severe manner.
- In order to complete the factual picture it is important to state that in the past The Plaintiff has filed (civil case 20693-05-10) an action with the honorable district court Center, for defamatory publication against “The Center for Cults Victims”, to which a copy of the letter, the object of this lawsuit, was sent to as aforesaid.
As part of the ruling of the honorable court, that validated the mediation agreement between the parties, The Center for Cults Victims pledged to publish an apology to The Plaintiff, and also remove the name of The Plaintiff, that was named by it as – “a cult”, from its publications.
- Under these circumstances, it was appropriate for The Defendant to examine, and study the matter and as a result to calculate his moves. But as described above, he chose, unfortunately, to act differently.
- The Legal Argument
- The Defendant’s Severe, Debasing, False and Prohibited Publications concerning the Plaintiff, attribute to The Plaintiff horrible, severe and mainly – false things, that The Defendant should have, prior to their publication, checked and known, as a result of such examination, to be false, and that their statement by The Defendant constitutes a prohibited publication and a defamation tort based on all the definitions and tests set by the law.
- The above publications include false and untrue statements that have no truth to them and they contain debasing, harsh and degrading slander against The Plaintiff.
- The above publications were made with malice, while spoiling the good name of The Plaintiff with various officials at governmental offices and with the education system and the public. All while conniving malicious tales and attributing the conduct of low and severe actions to The Plaintiff.
- Section 1 to the Law states:
“Defamation is anything the publication of which is likely
(1) to degrade a person in the eyes of human beings or to make him the object of hatred, contempt or ridicule on their part;
(2) to cause a person to be regarded with contempt for acts, conduct or characteristics imputed to him;
(3) to injure a person in his office, whether a public office or any other office, or in his business, occupation or profession;
(4) to cause a person to be regarded with contempt because of his race, origin, place of residence, gender or sexual orientation;
In this section, “a person” – an individual or a corporation.”
- There is no, and there cannot be any doubt that the publications made by the Defendant against The Plaintiff can hurt The Plaintiff’s reputation, hurt its status and good name, slander and provoke hatred against it with the pubic.
- Since there is no and can be no doubt that the things that were attributed to The Plaintiff by The Defendant in The Severe, Debasing, False and Prohibited Publications constitute defamation, and that they were published by The Defendant with the goal of hurting and/or upsetting, without examining those things, and/or while not caring about the outcome of the publication and/or out of negligence, the Plaintiff is entitled to receive from The Defendant a monetary compensation for the damages that were caused and may be caused due to the publications and as a result of them.
- The Plaintiff is entitled to compensation without proof of damage as well as a compensation for the non-financial damage caused to it due to The Severe, Debasing, False and Prohibited Publications, and it sets its claim in this matter, for purposes of fee, at a total of 300,000 NIS.
The Defendant reserves the right to amend the sum of the claim after its full damages are determined.
F The Sought Relief
- Therefore, the honorable court is being requested to issue a summon to The Defendant and to give judgment:
29.1 That requires The Defendant to pay The Plaintiff compensation without the proof of damages as well as a compensation for the non-financial damage caused to it due to The Severe, Debasing, False and Prohibited Publications, for a total of 300,000 NIS, plus cost of living linkage differences as well as maximum interest allowed by law from the day this lawsuit was filed until the day of actual payment.
29.2 That requires The Defendant to publish, at its own expense, a notice to all the recipients of the letter from 12.26.2012 with an amendment and denial of The Severe, Debasing, False and Prohibited Publications, in emphasis, at the place and with the wording as determined by this honorable court.
29.3 That requires The Defendant to publish, at his own expense, in – 3 daily newspapers in Hebrew an amendment and denial of The Severe, Debasing, False and Prohibited Publications, emphasis, at the place and with the wording as determined by this honorable court.
29.4 That requires The Defendant to pay The Plaintiff punitive or increased damages;
29.5 That requires The Defendant to pay The Plaintiff its actual expenses, including legal fees, with regard to these proceedings, plus VAT, cost of living linkage differences and the maximum interest allowable by law, from the day this lawsuit was filed until the day of actual payment.
29.6 That requires The Defendant to pay The Plaintiff punitive expenses, increased expenses, and minimum attorney expenses.
29.7 To provide any other or additional relief as this honorable court finds suitable and right under the circumstances of this matter.
Zvi Gelman, Adv. Dafna Azulai Regev, Adv.
Representatives for Plaintiff