After being threatened with a lawsuit, MK Alex Kushnir of Yisrael Beytenu has removed a video that slandered the chareidi community. In a social media post, Kushnir wrote that he had received “hundreds of messages of support” for the video, which alleges that Israeli HMOs (Kupot Cholim) use money meant for sick and elderly patients for “halachic purposes” for chareidi patients.
Although many people expressed “a need for a public discussion on how resources are allocated,” Kushnir decided to remove the video “because the subject presented was very sensitive for many Israelis, and many were hurt by it.”
More likely the reason for Kushnir’s folding on the matter was a clear copyright violation he is guilty of. Kushnir was sued last week for NIS 100,000 for ripping off a drawing in a comic book that was published for religious children. The Yeshiva of the Jewish Idea said in a statement that “it’s bad enough that MK Kushnir continues to distribute anti-Semitic and anti-chareidi materials, and insults observant Israelis. But to add insult to injury, he does it by violating copyrights of others, using the image of an important rabbi to spread his propaganda. Now he will learn what copyright violation is – by paying the costs of the crime.”
That “important rabbi” is none other than Hagaon Harav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, zt”l, whose drawn image appears in a set of comics aimed at religious children produced by the Yeshiva, which is closely associated with Rabbi Meir Kahane, z”l.
Handling the case on behalf of the Yeshiva is attorney Itamar Ben-Gvir, who said that “the video is insulting and derogatory, but in any event you are not allowed to use a caricature or drawing without permission. The use of this drawing violates the right of our client, with MK Kushnir profiting without paying.” Ben-Gvir is demanding that Kushnir immediately remove the drawing from his video, and apologize to the Yeshiva.
The video released by Kushnir raised an outcry among many Israelis, observant and otherwise. The video proved to be even too much for Yisrael Beytenu, which said that “we have said over and over again that we have nothing against the chareidi public. We stress that all violence, physical or verbal, against all individuals, regardless of religion, race or gender, must be condemned.” With that, the party said, “apparently our stance does not fit the agenda of chareidi politicians.”
Knesset Finance Committee chairman MK Rabbi Moshe Gafni said that “the terrible things Kushnir said against halachah in his video remind us of regimes that the Jewish people have had to survive over the years. We have also survived types like Kushnir, who is trying to please his boss Avigdor Liberman, who is trying to force the election campaign into one about religion and state.”