Simcha’s Lawsuit Against Joe Zias Hits Ha’Aretz

Journalist and filmmaker Simcha Jacobovici is suing anthropologist Joe Zias, who in recent years has been doing his utmost to disprove his provocative theories on early Christianity.

Further on

Jacobovici’s suit states that following Zias’ accusations, the Discovery Channel and National Geographic canceled the broadcast of his films, which cost him hundreds of thousands of dollars. He also says Zias is not an expert in archaeology as he presents himself, and never formally studied the subject.

“Let him say what he wants, I’m not arguing with him. Let him find 100 professors who say I’m talking foolishness. He said I am a forger, that I planted discoveries, that I invent Holocaust stories. I am a son of Holocaust survivors! So I’m invoking my right to defend myself. Let him prove that I am a forger or let him pay,” Jacobovici told Haaretz.

Zias and his attorney, Yehonatan Zvi, want the dispute moved to the academic arena. In the defense brief submitted to the court, Zvi compares the current suit to the 1925 “monkey trial” in which a teacher, John Scopes, was tried in Tennessee for teaching evolution. According to Zvi, his client, like Scopes, is fighting to protect scientific research.

And further

Prof. Yuval Goren of Tel Aviv University, one of the two senior archaeologists who submitted their opinions, compared Jacobovici’s films to the “Indiana Jones” movies – “although this image does great injustice to the latter,” Goren noted. “Steven Spielberg never tried to claim that the discoveries of Dr. ‘Indy’ Jones were scientific truth or had any factual basis” Goren wrote. He added that he felt the suit was intended to “silence legitimate scientific criticism.”

Prof. Amos Kloner, a former Jerusalem district archaeologist for the antiquities authority who took part in some of the excavations that appear in Jacobovici’s films, attacked the latter’s methods in the opinion he submitted to the court. “These films do not present all the findings or the whole story with the accepted detail required and essential in critical research.”

I’ve said all along, and I will continue to say, that suing someone for an academic opinion is unacceptable.  Many, many have criticized Simcha’s work with good reason.  And though Simcha asserts that he’s suing Zias because Zias suggested he planted things and forged stuff, I’m not buying it.  If all the stuff Simcha has filmed is the real deal, scholars would have supported him and his findings.  That those findings were weighed in the academic balances and found wanting isn’t Zias’ fault.  He doesn’t have that much influence.  Nor does he have, in my opinion, sufficient influence to get tv channels to pull Simcha’s work.  Simcha’s work was pulled for reasons known only to the networks he’s worked with and if he sues anyone it should be them.

I sincerely believe (though I don’t know it for a fact because I can’t read minds) that Simcha is suing Zias out of spite.

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7 thoughts on “Simcha’s Lawsuit Against Joe Zias Hits Ha’Aretz

  1. Nicole 16 Dec 2012 at 9:17 am

    If Simcha would be suing people for disagreeing with him, it seems to me he would have sued you long ago. He has repeatedly stated that he is suing Zias for only one reason – libel! Zias accused Simcha of criminal activity including forging archaeology and planting archaeology. It seems to me that in a democratic society freedom of speech ends where libel begins.


    • Jim 16 Dec 2012 at 12:15 pm

      i’m not so sure that zias has perpetrated libel. i guess that’s what for courts are for.


      • Nicole Austin 17 Dec 2012 at 7:54 pm

        Jim: I guess so…..


  2. Joe Zias 16 Dec 2012 at 1:16 pm

    Nicole not really, you are speaking for a tragic and pathetic individual who around 20-30 yrs ago won a couple of awards for whatever and believes the world should be in debt to him. He along with a handful of individuals make up in money for what they lack in integrity, bottom line is, will it sell, nothing more. As for his stature in the academic world, in 2007 they got James Cameron to lend his name as producer for two films, both of which failed miserably despite the fact that according to them there were ca 350 journalists at the press conference in NYC Public Library, quite an event. Meanwhile the books, the films have failed one after another, co authors have been accused of falsifying information, inventing personas, publishers pulled later books, soap opera stars are now billed as co-authors, and two weeks ago in Chicago the number of individuals, journalists, academics et al who came to hear them defend their Jesus Tomb shtick was ca 20. Two of whom I send out of curiosity. There were an estimated 10,000 academics there and from the looks of things, thanks to the blogs, they are finished. Without a doubt SJ has a few backers, a minion at most, but no credibility and when one has to show the Jesus Family film free in Canada because no one will buy it, you know that you are academically washed up. These are the motives, along with the words of Tabor back in 2006 when I asked him what he will do when colleagues vilify him for his selling out to the media, his reply “I’ll laugh all the way to the bank’ still ring in my ears and we parted ways after years of friendship. Anyway, Nicole if you are a fan of him and since you are employed by him , it’s not a good career move to be a criticof his, but hang in there word on the street is that Tabor is working on something new, I’ll give you a hint, they now believe Jesus was buried on Masada. I’m serious. Pretty soon we will run out of real estate for Him and his family as this makes tomb number four.


  3. Nicole Austin 18 Dec 2012 at 2:47 pm

    As always, your attacks are personal, insulting and false. As your email makes clear, you try to follow Simcha’s every move, and even get reports of how many people show up to his lectures. You admit to sending spies. Very sad. The fact is that his last Emmy was not 20-30 years ago but five years ago. Since then, he won the highest award available on film and archaeology from the Brussels Museum of Fine Art, has been made a professor and, as you point out, was invited to speak at the SBL conference last month. But I can’t have a rational conversation with someone who is clearly on some kind of personal vendetta. Not only do you irrationally attack what he has done but, as with the Jonah inscription, you are already attacking what he hasn’t even said e.g., Masada. Given your prophetic powers, it would be interesting to know what lies in your future with respect to the libel case against you.


  4. James Daniel Tabor 18 Dec 2012 at 4:50 pm

    Joe I normally let you “rave on” but I have to say here, where you mention me, you are clearly delusional. I realize you have spread your “laughing all the way to the bank” story far and wide but it is simply untrue, it never happened, and it is slander and character assassination. It ain’t me babe, and those who know me know that. Nor did we part ways in 2006 after such a dramatic encounter. On the contrary we began some of our closest collaboration in several areas throughout that very year.

    My academic views on the Talpiot tombs are published so far in ANE, the SBL web site, the ASOR blog,, and my blog. The Jesus Discovery book offers a solid and documented summary of the whole for a non-specialist audience but I am in the process of completing a university press monograph on the subject. If you disagree with my tentative conclusions you are free to argue otherwise but so far I have seen nothing of substance you have published on the subject. What you seem to spend most of your time doing is lurking on the internet, sending salacious e-mails far and wide and spreading slander about others.


  5. Nicole Austin 19 Dec 2012 at 6:27 pm

    BTW, Joe, maybe because this is Jim West’s site you will answer. As you know, I work with Simcha and I notice that after bragging all over the internet (including, I believe, on this site) that you caused Channel 4 to not broadcast the original Jesus film, that you caused National Geographic to not broadcast the follow up film and that you caused Discovery to not re-broadcast the original film, you now claim to the Israeli media and the court that you had absolutely no influence on any of those channels. Which is it, Joe? You influenced or you didn’t influence? Meaning, you’re either lying to the court or you were lying to your readers.


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