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December 15, 2013

Montreal Blogger Many Call Anti-Semitic Wins Libel Suit Brought Against Him By Hasidic Leaders

Pierre LacerteThe plaintiffs had complained about a column in which Mr. Lacerte focused on their distinctive dress and referred to a group of Hasidim as a “tsunami of men in black.” Judge Dallaire ruled that commenting on the community’s distinctive dress is not indicative of hatred or ridicule. “The Hasidim have an appearance that is different from the other citizens of Outremont, since their religion makes them display certain distinctive symbols, such as the long black coat,” she wrote. “We are of the opinion that they cannot display and request this difference then complain that certain people refer to these distinctive symbols when talking about them.”

Pierre Lacerte

Pierre Lacerte

Graeme Hamilton of the National Post reports on a judge's ruling 11 days ago to reject a lawsuit filed by three prominent hasidim  in the Montreal suburb of Outremont against a non-Jewish blogger many consider to be anti-Semitic:

A blogger who boasts that his critiques of Hasidic leaders in Outremont have revealed “revolting” practices and flushed out “bugs” from darkened corners has successfully defended a libel suit brought against him by three prominent community leaders.

A Quebec Superior Court judge rejected the plaintiffs’ claim for $375,000 in damages, concluding that Pierre Lacerte’s commentary was acerbic but it was based on facts.

The Dec. 4 decision by Judge Claude Dallaire is the latest chapter in a six-year-old legal feud that has highlighted the sometimes tense relationship between Outremont’s growing Hasidic community and its non-Jewish neighbours.

Mr. Lacerte, who lives across the street from an ultra-orthodox synagogue, created his blog in 2007 and uses it to denounce what he considers to be the law-breaking and undue political influence of senior Hasidim.

The blog reports frequently on such transgressions as double-parked cars outside the synagogue, renovations conducted without proper permits and chartered buses picking up passengers on residential streets. Mr. Lacerte alleges that Outremont’s borough council is in cahoots with the Hasidim and turns a blind eye to the law breaking.

For father-and-son real-estate developers Michael and Martin Rosenberg and Hasidic spokesman Alex Werzberger, the attacks became too much. Michael Rosenberg, president and CEO of the Rosdev Group, testified last January that Mr. Lacerte’s writings have damaged his reputation. And he alleged in an interview that the blog is anti-Semitic, accusing Mr. Lacerte of “stirring up a lot of problems” in Outremont.

Mr. Lacerte told the court that “words are his only weapon,” and the judgment lists examples of the artillery he levelled at Michael Rosenberg over the issue of illegal parking. He said the developer “likes to break the law,” calling him a “fanatic,” an “ultra-religious extremist,” “a Hasidic nabob” and the “righter of wrongs of the ghetto.”

Judge Dallaire concluded that the language was acceptable because Mr. Lacerte documented the transgressions he alleged. She dismissed Mr. Rosenberg’s argument that he respected the law because he always paid his parking tickets.

Mr. Lacerte makes frequent use of altered photos to mock the Hasidic leaders. In one, illustrating a story about the Jewish holiday of Purim, Mr. Werzberger is depicted as slurring his words as he explains that buses used by the community on the holiday are the equivalent of drive-home programs for drunk drivers. Judge Dallaire found that it was fair comment since it is not clear whether the buses are authorized in the borough.

The plaintiffs had complained about a column in which Mr. Lacerte focused on their distinctive dress and referred to a group of Hasidim as a “tsunami of men in black.” Judge Dallaire ruled that commenting on the community’s distinctive dress is not indicative of hatred or ridicule.

“The Hasidim have an appearance that is different from the other citizens of Outremont, since their religion makes them display certain distinctive symbols, such as the long black coat,” she wrote. “We are of the opinion that they cannot display and request this difference then complain that certain people refer to these distinctive symbols when talking about them.”

She concluded that the three plaintiffs are all public figures by virtue of their roles as spokesmen and their involvement on a borough inter-cultural committee.

Mr. Lacerte’s language “can sting,” she wrote, his remarks can be considered “aggressive” and they sometimes come close to the line of what is acceptable. “But we are of the opinion that this line was not crossed in the specific context of this file.”

Mr. Lacerte counter-sued, arguing that the libel suit was a baseless attempt to muzzle him. In addition to monetary damages, the three plaintiffs had asked that the blog be taken down. But Judge Dallaire ruled that the libel suit, which followed Mr. Rosenberg’s unsuccessful request for an order under the Criminal Code requiring Mr. Lacerte to leave him alone, was not abusive or in bad faith. She denied Mr. Lacerte’s counter-suit, which had sought $765,000 in damages.

Mr. Werzberger said Monday he needs to consult his lawyer before commenting on the ruling. Mr. Lacerte made his reaction known in a triumphant blog post. “The honourable judge of the Superior Court bought none of the arguments of my three adversaries,” he wrote. “My remarks were neither hateful nor degrading nor humiliating nor offensive.” The post was accompanied by a photomontage depicting the three plaintiffs crucified.

[Hat Tip: JMC.]

Comments

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+++The blog reports frequently on such transgressions as double-parked cars outside the synagogue, renovations conducted without proper permits+++

All this and more will be familiar to anyone who lives near a frumma shul - not to mention extensive noise and littering and being bad neighbors. And as for "revolting practises" what could be more revolting than MBP?

Cries of anti-semitism are the standard defense against anyone who oppose anything being done within that community, but they were foolish to have taken this court, because truth is the absolute defense against a charge of libel.

Sounds like a blog I'd like to add to my bookmarks

So the court ruled in his favor does it mean that he loves Jews?
is it possible that he does it not becuase he wants people to follow the law but out of hate?

David- these claims sure do ring a bell. They seem to be the M.O. of charedim in many places.

i totally get this guys frustration and nothing in what i've read proves he's an anti-semite. yet i have a strong feeling that he is, though thats beside the question of whether his posts were libelous, which they dont seem to be.

Found the blog. Sheeeesh. You could die of boredom. It's not even a baby FM. It's a gigantic yawn-sicle. The Xanax of blogs. I couldn't find any of these nasty photos.

Found a site of the guys that sued. It's difficult to believe the Judge didn't fall over the bench in paroxysms of laughter. He truly believed that it's not illegal to double park as many times as you wish as long as you pay the tickets. In fact, he did it so much he was peeved that the photos gave his Jag too much exposure so he had to trade it in for something less snazzy.


Only the Haredim get to play rough and run roughshod over the laws of the community which they inhabit, correct? Sometimes someone pushes back. Good for him as far as I'm concerned. I share his views as documented in this post and think the Court made the right decision.

So the court ruled in his favor does it mean that he loves Jews?is it possible that he does it not becuase he wants people to follow the law but out of hate?
Posted by: Trueyid | December 15, 2013 at 05:08 PM
Could certainly be driven by hate. However, is that wrong when what he says is entirely truthful? Is it also wrong if he's an anti-Semite when his exposure to Jews is the typical haredi behavior? They're the most overtly "Jewish" group outside of Hollywood stereotypes (Seinfeld, Woody Allen movies, The Nanny, Portnoy's Complaint etc, which are negative, albeit hilarious, in their own rght). While it may be ignorant to base an entire group of people in the behavior of a few obnoxious jackasses, the positive actions of non-haredi Jews are not nearly as obvious.

Cults in general are their own worst enemy.

Jancsi
How's the weather in Boro Park?

JekylJ--Bitter cold,but i am surrounded by warm hearted hassidim:)

Jancsi
א נער זאגט אויך אמאהל א גוט ווארט...
Enjoy your day.

Anyone who comes up with 'hassidic nabob', especially a French speaker is worthy of respect.

That will not however prevent me from stealing that expression.

JekylJ-Demultz ich bin an alter nar right?:))better an alter nar them a yinger shwantz.

we are too relaxed in the exile.tell these hasidic habs to move to our own country israel.the problem is they love money and not spirtuality.the maggid blogger is right,let's get out of here before it's to late

Jancsi
This time I meant it as a joke. I actually thought what you wrote was funny.

Apologies to the Beatles (Baby's in black):

Chorus:
Oy vey, what can I do?
Rabbi's in black and I'm "Sacre bleu!'
Tell me, oy what can I do?

He thinks of Him and so he dresses in black,
And though my blog will attack, he's dressed in black.

Chorus

I park my car, but he thinks only of Him,
And so he parks on a whim, he thinks that's frum.
Oy how long will it take,
Till he sees the mistakes he has made?

Chorus

Oy how long will it take,
Till he sees the mistakes he has made?

chorus

He thinks of Him and so he dresses in black,
In clothes of Poles who've attacked, he's dressed in black.

Chorus

א נער זאגט אויך אמאהל א גוט ווארט...

...just as a point of correctness, "nar" (fool) in this context should be written with an aleph, not an 'ayin, as the Yiddish word "nar" meaning "fool" comes from Germanic origins, and is not the same as the Hebrew "na'ar" meaning "youth".

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