May 5, 2019
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach
A lawyer for Jason Grow of Jason M. Grow Photography in Boston is demanding $150,000 in damages from Rabbi Shmuely Boteach and his World Values Network over the "unauthorized use of a photograph of Ilhan Omar, a recently-elected member of the United States House of Representatives."
The World Values Network, a charity organization headed by Rabbi Boteach, published a full-page ad in The Washington Post on March 24 condemning Dem. Rep. Ilhan Omar for anti-Semitic remarks. The advertisement included a photograph of Omar taken from Facebook. The same image was also used in a GoFundMe appeal to collect money to support the ad.
An April 24 letter was subsequently sent to Rabbi Boteach by Attorney Andrew D. Epstein, representing Jason M. Grow about over "unauthorized use of a photograph of Ilhan Omar, a recently-elected member of the United States House of Representatives." The letter, quoted by California Globe, says that the charity "made two unauthorized uses of the Photograph" and claims damages from the use of the photograph and "any profits that were earned from the use and infringement of the Photograph plus attorney's fees and costs." The letter demands that Boteach "immediately stop using the Photograph for any purposes whatsoever."
Rabbi Boteach told the Globe, "This past March, our organization, The World Values Network, took out a full-page ad in The Washington Post calling out Rep. Ilhan Omar for her blatantly anti-Semitic remarks and comparing them to classic texts of historical Jew-hatred. We used as a background for the ad a photo taken from her Facebook in accordance with Facebook standards. Now we have received a lawyer's letter from the photographer who took Ilhan Omar's photo, demanding $150,000 in damages. We first heard of this issue when somebody called our office and shouted at an employee, 'Who's the [expletive] I need to sue?'"
"We wish to make it clear we will not be silenced about Ilhan Omar and her personal war against the Jewish people. Those threatening legal action for the proper use of this photo want to stifle the First Amendment rights of a Jewish organization that battles anti-Semitism. Jews are being gunned-down in synagogues on American soil over ideas frighteningly similar to Omar's claims of Jewish 'Benjamins' controlling Washington. All the legal threats in the world will not silence us. We will speak out against the demonization of the Jewish people and defend our rights to free speech."