Author Naomi Ragen Loses Plagiarism Suit
The author of “Sotah” found guilty
Bestselling American-Israeli author Naomi Ragen has been found guilty of plagiarism.
After a four-year adjudication, the Jerusalem District Court ruled that parts of Ragen’s novel Sotah were knowingly copied from fellow Jerusalem-based writer Sarah Shapiro’s 1990 book Growing Up With My Children: A Jewish Mother’s Diary.
The court stated that Ragen “testified that work written by the plaintiff served as 'raw materials' for her, and that her method of writing is based on drawing from a 'well' and 'imagination' in ways that include the works of others, including those rendered by the plaintiff.” Prior to the ruling, Israeli media sources had quoted Ragen as having said Shapiro’s work served as inspiration to her own, although not to an extent tantamount to plagiarism.
The compensation claimed in the suit was 1 million shekels (over $250,000). The court ordered a negotiation of both sides to settle the amount.
Post-verdict, attorneys for Shapiro stated, “This is an important ruling for every writer. The court has sent a clear message concerning original writings while protecting freedom of expression as well as creative freedom.”
Ragen called it a “dark day” for writers in Israel, saying the verdict will become a precursor to freedom of expression-quelling nuisance suits. Ragen, who has written on feminist issues, claimed that Shapiro pressed charges in order to quiet her criticism of some of the Haredi religious community’s attitudes towards women. Both Ragen and Shapiro are from America’s Orthodox Jewish community.