Montreal Chasidic leaders take blogger to court, alleging libelous anti-Semitism


TORONTO (JTA) — Three prominent Chasidic leaders in Montreal are in court over a long-standing fight with a local blogger.

The leaders are seeking $375,000 in damages for libel, saying the writings of Pierre Lacerte are anti-Semitic and harmful to their reputations.

Over the past five years, Lacerte’s blog has documented alleged infractions committed by Chasidim in Montreal’s Outremont neighborhood, from double parking on residential streets to synagogues and other structures he alleges have contravened municipal zoning laws.

Testifying Jan. 16 in the Superior Court of Quebec, Lacerte took exception to the accusation of anti-Semitism, the National Post reported.

"Since the Second World War, there are not many things as damaging to one’s reputation as being called anti-Semitic," he said. "Not even pedophilia."

Lacerte said his blog does not attack Jews but talks about "a very small minority of fundamentalists."

A former journalist who lives across the street from a Chasidic synagogue, Lacerte testified that he has been unable to find work because of the legal action against him and is counter-suing for $725,000.

One of the plaintiffs, real estate developer Michael Rosenberg, told the Post that Lacerte is "obsessed with the Chasidim in Outremont" and the blog focuses exclusively on infractions committed by Jews and ignores all others.

In a 2011 legal battle between the two sides, a judge denied Rosenberg’s request for a restraining order against Lacerte.

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