The 'spy' who sued me

Author to compensate far-right activist for calling him a Shin Bet agent.

itamar ben-gvir 224.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
itamar ben-gvir 224.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
A Jerusalem court has ruled that calling far-right activist Itamar Ben-Gvir a Shin Bet agent constitutes libel. The court ordered Israeli-Canadian writer Barry Chamish to pay Ben-Gvir NIS 36,000 in damages for calling the latter a Shin Bet agent, according to court documents released on Thursday. Hamish, who is best known as a conspiracy theorist, had called the self-declared Kahane spokesman a Shin Bet agent in an article on his Web site. "Ben-Gvir is clearly... a Shin Bet agent, a provocateur," Hamish wrote in 2005. "He is on trial every other month, but is always acquitted on some technicality." Jerusalem Magistrate's Court Judge Oded Shaham ruled Wednesday that Hamish had portrayed Ben-Gvir as dishonest and dangerous. "In all these publications, the claimant [Ben-Gvir] is portrayed as a partner to fraud and as a traitor to the camp he belongs to," Shaham wrote in his ruling. The judge said that in some of the articles in question Ben-Gvir was depicted as somebody who pretended to be opposed to the 2005 Gaza pullout while, in fact, he was stifling opposition to the withdrawal, while in another Ben-Gvir was described as inciting others to violence. "All these [assertions] constitute libel," Shaham said. "I am certain that some of the malicious rumors circulating about me originated in the Shin Bet, and were designed to cause rifts and arguments in the right-wing camp," Ben-Gvir said in reaction to the verdict. "I have continued to work on behalf of the Jewish people and the Land of Israel, in spite of and despite the leftists," he said. Chamish's best-known book, Who Murdered Yitzhak Rabin? blames 1995's Rabin assassination on President Shimon Peres, then-foreign minister, and on the Shin Bet instead of the convicted assassin Yigal Amir. Chamish, who recently left Israel, could not be reached for comment on Thursday.