Court Orders Historian to Apologize to Veterans, Pay Fine

Moshe Reinfeld
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Moshe Reinfeld

The Supreme Court ordered historian Theodore (Teddy) Katz of Haifa University to publish an apology for his claim that the Alexandroni Brigade massacred Palestinians at the village of Tantura during Israel's War of Independence.

The Supreme Court rejected Katz's appeal against a decision reached by the Tel Aviv District Court, authorizing a compromise agreement that called for a public apology by the historian.

Katz was also ordered to pay NIS 20,000 to the Alexandroni veterans for court expenses, and a further NIS 10,000 to Haifa University.

The panel of three justices said Katz should have dealt with the issue through legal means, namely by challenging the compromise agreement and declaring it invalid.

The compromise agreement ended a libel suit against Katz filed by the veterans of the Alexandroni Brigade.

Attorney Avigdor Feldman, representing Katz, argued yesterday that his client signed the compromise deal under duress and as such could revoke it.

"It would be wrong to force Katz to issue a letter of apology if he claims to have written it at a moment of weakness," Feldman said.

The justices also pointed out to attorney Giora Erdinst, representing the plaintiffs, that nothing could prevent the historian from publishing a document to counter his letter of apology, immediately after issuing his regrets in public.

Erdinst said that since many of the Alexandroni veterans were in their eighties, they would simply like to see an apology as soon as possible and were not concerned with a future libel suit against Katz.