Elana Sztokman Still Likes Naomi Ragen

In an interesting and thoughtful Foreward article, "After Plagiarism Suit, Standing by Naomi Ragen," writer Elana Sztokman has made up her mind. She will not abandon her icon, writer Naomi Ragen, even after Ragen was found guilty of plagiarism.

Now, Elana wants to let us know that she is willing to forgive and forget and will stand by her woman, even though the infraction was not against her. That's a bit gracious of her, though nobody thought to ask her how she felt, since she did not suffer the plagiarism attack.

Ragen did not plagiarize Sztokman's work, so the forgiveness is not that difficult. Elana might have consulted with the victim first before deciding what is best for the Orthodox sisterhood.

Plagiarism is a vicious crime against our profession. It is a cardinal offense against a writer. We know this because we suffered a direct and eggregious attack of plagiarism and copyright infringement two years ago from a close mentor who published our work (some 900 pages) under his name. As a direct victim, we felt the full brunt of the attack, the "violence" of the crime. We searched our soul, maintained our dignity, forgave the transgressor, settled the matter out of court, and let it go. It was not easy.

Again, Elana is not a direct party to this recent legal dispute. She does not know the feeling of being violated by this specific act of crime.

So for her, even with her sincere empathy and similar experience, this episode is an academic question, a theoretical quandary. As she puts it, "The devastating verdict creates a real conflict for some of us, torn between protection of artists’ rights and the need for strong female religious leadership. It’s a tough call, but I have decided that I’m going to continue to support Naomi Ragen."

She concludes, "I am ready to put this entire episode behind us and let Naomi Ragen return to doing her thing." That's all well and good. But, just to be stubborn about this, Elana was not the writer who was the victim of this literary "rape".

We are not sure what this means as Elana explains her thought process in reaching for Christian forgiveness, "Naomi Ragen apparently made a mistake — a serious though perhaps not entirely a conscious one..." But how, pray tell, does one commit a "not entirely conscious" act of plagiarism. We wonder, was Ragen high on drugs, alcohol, ego, or suffering delusions of grandeur?

We are glad to hear from Elana, "I am ready to put this entire episode behind us." Except, she was not the litigant, the wronged writer, the victim. She simply is not an actor in this episode.
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