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Versaware Fires 60 in Israel, Slams 'Jerusalem Post' Report

JERUSALEM -- e-Publishing company Versaware has fired half of its 120 employees in Israel, the company said Monday. Versaware confirmed the dismissals on Monday afternoon after the publication of an article about the company on the Jerusalem Post's Digital Israel website earlier in the day. That article had evoked a sharp response from Versaware chief executive Sol Rosenberg.

"Versaware is shocked and deeply disturbed by the recent aggressive campaign by The Jerusalem Post against this company," Rosenberg said in a statement. "The destructive and invasive path taken by the Jerusalem Post is bordering dangerously on harassment."

The statement by Rosenberg referred to an article which stated that a deal to sell Versaware to California-based technology and media company Gemstar, a unit of Fox Co., had fallen through and, as a result, had led the company to mass layoffs of its Israel staff.

The Post article reported what it described as "eyewitness" accounts of company affairs conducted behind closed doors and reiterated earlier reports that the company has failed to pay March salaries for the Israel staff, that employees fired in months past have not received their severance pay, and that at least one outside vendor has sued the company for failure to pay for services rendered.

In his statement, Rosenberg took exception to the Post's reporting of the events.

"The publishing without permission or qualification of internal documents, uninvited attempts to access Versaware's premises, as well as a seemingly new policy of printing heresy and rumor spreading," Rosenberg's statement said, "mark an ugly yellow journalistic descent into muckraking and carries with it all the risks that a newspaper engages when falsehoods are glaringly and willingly printed on a frequent basis."

In closing, Rosenberg said that the Post's articles were hurting Versaware.

"The Jerusalem Post's apparent attempts at a smear campaign against Versaware are having an adverse affect on this company's ability to raise additional funding in this difficult economic downturn," the statement said.

In response to Versaware's statement, Jerusalem Post editor-in-chief Jeff Barak said, "What is interesting about the statement is that it does not try to rebut any of the facts in the Digital Israel article."

Beyond confirming the layoffs, Versaware has not confirmed or denied the substance of the Monday article, as well as the earlier reports.

Versaware has major operations in New York's Silicon Alley, as well as a 1,200-person production center in Pune, India.

israel.internet.com was unable to independently confirm by presstime the Post article's claims that a deal to sell Versaware had been completed. As of Monday evening, the story had not appeared on other Israel-based business and technology news websites or publications.