Billionaire's Suit Against Haaretz Cannot Proceed in Canada, Supreme Court Rules

Mitchell Goldhar, who owns the Maccabi soccer team, claims an article about his management of the team was defamatory

File photo: Mitchell Goldhar (C) at a soccer game in Israel.
Nir Keidar

A Canadian businessman's defamation suit against Haaretz cannot proceed in his native country and must occur in Israel, the Supreme Court in Ottawa has ruled, CBC reported on Wednesday.

Mitchell Goldhar, a billionaire real estate developer who owns of the Maccabi soccer team in Tel Aviv, filed his suit in 2011, claiming that an article about him was defamatory. While courts in Ontario ruled that the suit could be tried in Canada, the Supreme Court disagreed in a 6-3 ruling, according to the report.

The three dissenting justices argued that someone defamed in his home province should be able to file a suit there, CBC said. The article was published on Haaretz's English-language website as well as in print and the Hebrew-language site, and was thought to have been viewed in Canada hundreds of times.

The article in question said that some inside Maccabi believed that Goldhar's managerial culture "is based on overconcentration bordering on megalomania, penny-pinching and a lack of long-term planning."  

According to Canadian newspaper Globe and Mail, Goldhar said that the article was extensively discussed among hundreds of employees of a real estate investment trust of which he is executive board chair.

Haaretz meanwhile, the report said, told the court that Goldhar was attempting to file his suit where he would have the greatest advantage and that he had failed to show that the article had harmed his reputation.