May 9, 2010
In News The Israel-Palestine Conflict
An Israeli author is suing the family of a soldier being held by Islamic militants in the Gaza Strip, claiming he plagiarised one of her books.Shelly Elkayam is seeking royalties earned from the sales of When the Shark and the Fish First Met, a story written by Israeli Cpl Gilad Shalit when he was 11 years old and published after his capture four years ago. “The story that Shalit wrote was written by me,” Ms Elkayam told Israeli army radio. “I have been a literary hostage of the Shalit family for four years.” Shalit was captured in a cross-border raid by three Islamic groups, including Hamas, in June 2006 and spirited into the Gaza Strip, the tiny coastal territory controlled by Hamas. His schoolteacher unearthed Cpl Shalit’s childhood story after his capture, and it has since been printed in 17 editions and several different languages. Cpl Shalit’s family have acknowledged that the story was inspired by Elkayam, but claim there are key differences in the text. Elkayam, however, claims there were only “superficial changes” from her own book When the Snake and the Mouse First Met. “They continue to steal my book rights, which was a best-seller from the time it was published up until they published Gilad’s book,” Ms Elkayam said. “Just like it’s his right to be free, it’s my right that my rights will be protected.” Cpl Shalit’s father, Noam Shalit, said that the family was aware of the allegations but was not personally involved in the publication of the book, Israel’s News1 website reported. In Cpl Shalit’s 350-word-long story, a fish and a shark become friendly over a game of hide and seek, but are warned by their parents to stay away from each other. Nevertheless, they overcome their natural enmity to become friends and live in peace. Cpl Shalit’s parents, tireless campaigners for his release, have used the story to keep Shalit’s plight alive among the Israeli public, and all the proceeds are directed into the campaign for his release. Elkayam’s suit is unlikely to endear her to many Israelis, who have been transfixed by Cpl Shalit’s fate. Many support his release at any price, placing Israeli administrations under huge domestic pressure to secure his freedom. Hamas is seeking to swap him for 1,000 Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails.