Rabbi Shmuley Boteach’s World Values Network is being sued for up to $150,000 by Jason Grow of Jason M. Grow Photography, Inc. for using a photograph of Congresswoman Ilhan Omar in some of its advertisements.
According to a letter obtained by The Jerusalem Post f
rom Andrew Epstein of the Boston law firm Baker, Epstein & Loscocco, World Values Network used a photograph of the Muslim congresswoman without authorization. The photo was copyrighted and registered with the US Copyright Office in March 2019.
The letter states that the organization used the photo on two occasions, both in an advertisement in The Washington Post
and on its Go-Fund-Me appeal page
. The page was meant to raise money to support the ad but only brought in $598.
Boteach claims that the photo was taken from Omar’s Facebook page
in accordance with Facebook standards.
The photographer requests that Boteach’s group stop using the photo and “contact this office immediately to inform the undersigned of the number and extent of uses of the photograph to date and begin negotiations for damages of the willful infringement of the photograph.”
The lawyer said if he does not hear back from Boteach by May 8, “I have been instructed to enter an action in the United States District Court in which I will be seeking damages and costs to the full extent that the law permits.”
Omar’s spokesperson did not return comment.
Boteach continues to defend his use of the photo.
“We first heard of this issue when somebody called our office and shouted at an employee, ‘Who’s the [expletive] I need to sue?’ he told The Jerusalem Post.
“We wish to make it clear we will not be silenced about Ilhan Omar and her personal war against the Jewish people. Those threatening legal action for the proper use of this photo want to stifle the First Amendment rights of a Jewish organization that battles antisemitism.
“Jews are being gunned down in synagogues on American soil over ideas frighteningly similar to Omar’s claims of Jewish ‘Benjamins’ controlling Washington,” Boteach continued. “All the legal threats in the world will not silence us. We will speak out against the demonization of the Jewish people and defend our rights to free speech.”
Omar has been accused multiple times of expressing antisemitic sentiments. In February, she tweeted an accusation against AIPAC that it was paying lawmakers to support Israel. She later told a progressive audience at a Washington, DC event that she wanted to talk about “the political influence in this country that says it is okay to push for allegiance to a foreign country,” referring to the fact that Jews are supportive of the State of Israel.
Omar has claimed that she is painted as antisemitic because she is Muslim.