Sunday, December 24, 2006

Actually, Judith is a Chanukah Heroine


Judith Regan, the publisher who was fired last week by HarperCollins in the wake of what executives called anti-Semitic remarks, was investigated and reprimanded three years ago for making an anti-Semitic remark at work, two top executives at HarperCollins have said.

According to the executives and another person involved in the incident, Ms. Regan was investigated in the spring of 2003 after an editor complained that she had boasted of removing the scrolls from her neighbors’ mezuzas and replacing them with torn pieces from dollar bills.

A mezuza is a small slender case containing a scroll inscribed with a prayer that many Jewish families place beside their front doors.

The two executives said the company’s investigation had corroborated the employee’s account and Ms. Regan was reprimanded at the time.

A spokeswoman for HarperCollins, Erin Crum, declined to confirm the account. “We do not comment on personnel issues,” she said.

A lawyer for Ms. Regan, Bert Fields, denied that she had made the remark. The story, he said, stemmed from testimony given by a witness during Ms. Regan’s divorce from Robert Kleinschmidt but she had had nothing to do with the incident.

Mr. Fields said Ms. Regan had not been investigated or reprimanded over an anti-Semitic remark at work.

The furor over Ms. Regan began last month after the News Corporation, the parent company of HarperCollins Publishers, canceled a planned book and television special featuring O. J. Simpson discussing how he hypothetically might have killed his former wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend, Ronald L. Goldman.

Last week, Ms. Regan was abruptly fired after a heated telephone conversation with Mark Jackson, a lawyer for HarperCollins, in which she reportedly made anti-Semitic remarks.

On Monday, Mr. Fields promised to sue HarperCollins for breach of contract. “She would never issue any anti-Semitic remark, and she didn’t,” Mr. Fields said at the time. “It’s an outrageous lie to cover the fact that they have no possible basis for terminating Judith.”

Mr. Fields acknowledged last week that during the phone conversation, Ms. Regan drew attention to the fact that her boss and others involved in the aborted O. J. Simpson project were Jewish.

And as for the Chanukah heroine, see here.

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