The picture of Israel Bardugo
The picture of Israel BardugoPicture used with permission of Israel Bardugo

International aerial photographer Israel Bardugo is currently facing a lawsuit after demanding compensation and the removal of his photograph from the publications of an organization that promotes Christianity.

The affair began when Bardugo discovered that a photograph he had taken showing Jerusalem from the air appeared on the website of the Bible Society in Israel, a company whose goal was to "make the holy books, the Torah, Prophets and Writings, and the New Testament accessible to every person," as the company's CEO Victor Kalisher describes it.

Bardugo approached the company demanding compensation for the use of his photograph. After not receiving a response, he filed a lawsuit in the amount of NIS 80,000 as compensation for infringement of his copyright, which he claims harms his livelihood. The company is responsible for the first translation of the Christian New Testament into modern Hebrew.

In recent days and in response to the lawsuit, Bardugo has received a counterclaim whose purpose is to make the legal hearing bilateral. This lawsuit alleges that Bardugo does not approve of the use of his photographs for a number of purposes including violence, pornography and missionary activity. In so doing, it is argued, he is discriminating against the Bible Society. This is despite the fact that the organization itself is careful not to define its activity as missionary activity with the understanding that such a definition is off-putting to Jewish Israelis. The countersuit is for NIS 50,000.

Bardugo's photographs produced using helicopters and unique equipment and are sold for tens of thousands of shekels to many parties around the world, whether Jews, Muslims, Christians or members of any other religion, provided that the use of the photographs is not illegal.

Attorney Reezie Lebenherz-Bardugo, representing Bardugo Group Ltd., said in response that "we provide media services to our clients without examining religion or origin. In doing so and as a company operating in the international market we do not approve of the use of works for the purposes of violence, and preaching conversion as is forbidden in Israel and most countries of the world. The baseless lawsuit filed against us is important, as it is expected to put to the test the amount of expenses that must be awarded to a party who was harassed with a baseless lawsuit."

The Or Laachim organization said in response: "Any body, company or individual who is sued by missionaries, we organization will put our organization's legal department to full support of the defendant as is needed."