Weekly Rogues Gallery


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Welcome to the Rogues Gallery, our weekly to semi-weekly look into the dark netherworld of Jewish politics, crime and corruption. We’ve got a packed gallery for you today, with rogues of all stripes and varieties, including high and mighty rogues, rabbi rogues, child molester rogues, historical rogues, Talmud-celebrating rogues, and more. So let’s get to it!

Why is there such a widespread belief among the Jewish community, and particularly with rabbis, that child molesters should not be reported to the police? This is a common theme that has surfaced time and time again in previous Rogues Galleries—in the Nechemaya Weberman case, the Yeshiva University case, and other similar type cases I have covered. Well, today once more we find this phenomenon rearing its head in our first few stories.

Caught on Camera

This first story, posted a few days ago at the Ugly Truth, is drawn from a report in the British newspaper, The Independent, concerning a senior rabbi in Britain giving counseling to a victim of child sexual abuse. And what was the substance of his advice? Don’t report it to the police. The twist here is that the counseling session was caught on camera. Here’s an excerpt from the report:

A senior British rabbi has been filmed telling an alleged victim of child sexual abuse not to go to the police.

Rabbi Ephraim Padwa, who is leader of the UK’s Strictly Orthodox Jewish community, told the alleged victim that it was “mesira”, or forbidden, to report a suspected Jewish sex offender to a non-Jewish authority.

His advice, which was secretly recorded as part of a  Channel 4’s Dispatches investigation to be shown tonight, will reignite the controversy about the cover-up of child sex abuse by religious groups following global scandals surrounding the Roman Catholic church

Let me just pause here and say something about this reporter’s reference to the “global scandals surrounding the Roman Catholic church,” and this is something I’ve harped about quite a bit in the past—that the media cover criminal Jewish pedophile cases very, very differently from the way they have reported similar scandals in the Catholic Church. A few years ago when priests were being arrested on charges of this nature, the media always mentioned the different cases in the context of each other, always pointing out that other priests were facing similar charges, with the implication that sexual crimes by priests was a widespread problem in the church. By contrast, when rabbis are arrested on child sex abuse charges, it is always reported as if it were an isolated event. The reporters invariably act as if the notion of a rabbi having sex with children is almost unheard of or unprecedented, and certainly there is no mention of “global scandals”—even though there have been high-profile cases of this in multiple countries. In previous Rogues Galleries, in addition to the Weberman and Yeshiva University cases here in America, I have also reported on Jewish child molestation cases in Australia and Canada.

So I Just wanted to point that out. Now let’s return to our story:

Rabbi Padwa, who is head of the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations in Stamford Hill, north  London, was recorded by a former member of the tight-knit community using a hidden camera.

The footage shows the alleged victim telling Rabbi Padwa about someone “who sexually abused me when I was younger, when I was a child and I’m looking for your advice, to be honest, what to do…Would do you think maybe, is it a good idea to speak to the police about it?”. 

“Oh no,” Padwa answers, explaining that doing so would breach Rabbinic Law.  The alleged victim says that child sex abuse is a “very serious issue”, but is told not tell the police. Rabbi Padwa adds: “Men Tur Nisht,” which is Yiddish for “people must not tell tales.” He continues: “The police is not the solution.”

Another Charedi Rabbi claims later in the program that Rabbi Ephraim Padwa recently forbade a father who had told the police that his son had been sexually abused from pursuing the case. 

The man taped speaking to Rabbi Padwa agreed to help investigate possible sex abuse cover-ups after claiming he was abused as a child by a fellow Charedi, Channel 4 claims.

Rabbi Padwa’s organisation, the UOHC, sent Channel 4 a letter responding to the allegations stating: “The Jewish Community considers the safety and protection of our children as paramount.”

The statement released by UOHC goes on to assert that Orthodox Jewish congregations in Britain have “special committees” to deal with complaints of this type, committees whose members “have been trained in the right way to tackle this.” And who makes up these committees? Well, “educators,” “members of the community,” and—yes, you guessed it—“rabbis.”

The Leiby Kletzky Case

Padwa is not by any means the only rabbi to take such a position. Below is another notable incident of it—from a July 21, 2011 report in the JTA:

(JTA) — A leading American Orthodox rabbi, Shmuel Kamenetsky, said that child abuse should be reported to rabbis, not police.

Kamenetsky, the vice president of Agudath Israel of America’s Supreme Council of Rabbinic Sages, said in a speech July 12 in Brooklyn that the sexual abuse of a child should be reported to a rabbi, who would then determine if the police should be called. He made the speech as a search was being conducted for an 8-year-old Brooklyn boy, Leiby Kletzky, whose dismembered body was found the following day in a dumpster and in the apartment of Levi Aron.

Aron was indicted Wednesday in the boy’s murder.

A recording of the Kamenetsky speech in Flatbush first appeared July 17 on the Failed Messiah blog. Kamenetsky was repeating Agudath Israel of America’s official policy banning Jews from reporting child sexual abuse to police, according to the blog.

A representative of the Shomrim, a volunteer civilian patrol in New York, told the New York Daily News that his organization keeps a list of alleged child molesters whom they have not reported to the police. The New York Jewish Week reported that it is possible that Aron may have been known to some in the haredi Orthodox community, but that they did not report him to the police.

“We call upon Agudath Israel of America’s leadership to immediately retract these dangerous statements [by Kamenetsky],” Survivors for Justice, an advocacy, educational and support organization for survivors of sexual abuse and their families from the Orthodox world, said in a statement.

Keep in mind Kamenetsky’s high-ranking position within Agudath Israel of America. If you go here you can read an AIA statement from July 22, 2011—one day later—basically attempting to tap dance around the issue. Here’s the full statement (emphases added):

Agudath Israel of America has received several inquiries in the wake of misleading claims that have recently been made about our stance on reporting suspected child abusers to law enforcement authorities. We take the opportunity to clarify our position.

As Torah Jews we live our lives in accordance with halacha. The question of whether and under what circumstances one is halachically permitted or required to report to the authorities suspicions of child abuse (including sexual molestation) has attracted the attention of a number of our generation’s most prominent rabbinic authorities. Many of their responsa have been collected in the respected Torah journal Yeshurun, Volumes 15 and 22. As elaborated at a recent Halacha Conference sponsored by Agudath Israel of America, these responsa make clear that when certain standards have been met it is not only permitted but in fact obligatory to report suspicions of abuse or molestation. The general principles that emerge from these responsa are as follows:

1. Where there is “raglayim la’davar” (roughly, reason to believe) that a child has been abused or molested, the matter should be reported to the authorities. In such situations, considerations of “tikun ha’olam” (the halachic authority to take steps necessary to “repair the world”), as well as other halachic concepts, override all other considerations.

2. This halachic obligation to report where there is raglayim la’davar is not dependent upon any secular legal mandate to report. Thus, it is not limited to a designated class of “mandated reporters,” as is the law in many states (including New York); it is binding upon anyone and everyone. In this respect, the halachic mandate to report is more stringent than secular law.

3. However, where the circumstances of the case do not rise to the threshold level of raglayim la’davar, the matter should not be reported to the authorities. In the words of Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, perhaps the most widely respected senior halachic authority in the world today, “I see no basis to permit” reporting “where there is no raglayim la’davar, but rather only ‘eizeh dimyon’ (roughly, some mere conjecture); if we were to permit it, not only would that not result in ‘tikun ha’olam’, it could lead to ‘heres haolam’ (destruction of the world).” [Yeshurun, Volume 7, page 641.]

4. Thus, the question of whether the threshold standard of raglayim la’davar has been met so as to justify (indeed, to require) reporting is critical for halachic purposes. (The secular law also typically establishes a threshold for mandated reporters; in New York, it is “reasonable cause to suspect.”) The issue is obviously fact sensitive and must be determined on a case-by-case basis.

5. There may be times when an individual may feel that a report or evidence he has seen rises to the level of raglayim la’davar; and times when he may feel otherwise. Because the question of reporting has serious implications for all parties, and raises sensitive halachic issues, the individual should not rely exclusively on his own judgment to determine the presence or absence of raglayim la’davar. Rather, he should present the facts of the case to a rabbi who is expert in halacha and who also has experience in the area of abuse and molestation – someone who is fully sensitive both to the gravity of the halachic considerations and the urgent need to protect children. (In addition, as Rabbi Yehuda Silman states in one of his responsa [Yeshurun, Volume 15, page 589], “of course it is assumed that the rabbi will seek the advice of professionals in the field as may be necessary.”) It is not necessary to convene a formal bais din (rabbinic tribunal) for this purpose, and the matter should be resolved as expeditiously as possible to minimize any chance of the suspect continuing his abusive conduct while the matter is being considered.

Keep in mind, all of the above came out under unusual circumstances—circumstances prompted by the murder of the young Brooklyn boy, Leiby Kletzky. You have to wonder—had it not been for Kletzky’s murder, and the discovery of his dismembered body, would any of this have seen the light of day?

Apparently, however, the AIA statement was not enough to silence critics. On July 26, 2011, five days after the initial statement by Kamenetsky, the Rabbinical Council of America released the following statement. Worth noting is that both the RCA and the AIA are large, Orthodox Jewish organizations:

The Rabbinical Council of America has today reaffirmed its position that those with reasonable suspicion or first hand knowledge of abuse or endangerment have a religious obligation to report that abuse to the secular legal authorities without delay. One of the unique features of Jewish law is that it imposes upon every member of the community an obligation to help others avoid danger. The biblical verse “do not stand by while your neighbor’s blood is shed” is understood by Jewish Law to mandate that one must do all in one’s power to prevent harm to others – even if monetary harm, but certainly physical harm.
 
Consistent with that Torah obligation, if one becomes aware of an instance of child abuse or endangerment, one is obligated to refer the matter to the secular authorities immediately, as the prohibition of mesirah (i.e., referring an allegation against a fellow Jew to government authority) does not apply in such a case.
 
As always where the facts are uncertain one should use common sense and consultations with experts, both lay and rabbinic, to determine how and when to report such matters to the authorities.False accusations are harmful to those falsely accused – but unreported abuse or endangerment can be life-threatening, as we have recently been tragically reminded.

In addition and as a separate matter, those within the Jewish community whom secular law deem to be “mandated reporters,” must certainly obey the particular reporting requirements, which vary from state to state in the United States. A person covered by mandatory reporter laws must comply with those laws, even in a case in which Jewish law might otherwise not require a person to report such child abuse or endangerment.

So what is this “prohibition of mesirah” referred to above? The word mesirah actually came up in one of our previous Rogues Galleries, this in regard to one Rabbi Moshe Zigelman, who cited “mesira” as his grounds for refusing to testify before a Brooklyn grand jury. Zigelman’s case also dates back to 2011. The following is excerpted from a Haaretz report posted at Shoa.org in September of that year:

An Orthodox rabbi may face jail time for refusing to testify before a grand jury regarding the federal government’s ongoing probe of tax evasion in his community, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Rabbi Moshe Zigelman, a teacher and son of Holocaust survivors, has said that he will not testify against his fellow Jews, citing the Jewish prohibition of mesira, which prohibits Jews from turning their brethren into the secular authorities, the Times reported.

Zigelman has been ordered to testify in a tax-evasion case involving his Brooklyn-based Hasidic sect Spinka, the report said. This is not the first time he has invoked the principle of mesira, and in 2008 he was sentenced to two years in prison after pleading guilty to his part in the scheme and refusing to testify on the matter.

In that same Rogues Gallery I also supplied a more recent update on Zigelman’s case, based upon an LA Times report from March 16, 2012. In that article, Zigelman is quoted as saying, “Because the transgression of mesira is so dire, my mind won’t change until I die.”

Basically, then, mesirah means that Jews are not to report other Jews to secular authorities. And what that basically boils down to, for those who subscribe to this belief, is that they regard themselves as exempt from all laws other than Jewish law. This, not surprisingly, has been one of the major sources of friction between Jews and their host populations down through the centuries.

A History Lesson

In 38 AD one of the earliest Jewish pogroms on record took place in Alexandria, Egypt. Alexander the Great had been kind to the Jews, as were his immediate successors, the Ptolemies, who came to power in 332 BC and ruled until 30 BC. So kind in fact were the Ptolemies that they gave the Jews of Alexandria their own district, in the Northeast quarter of the city, which became known as the Jewish Quarter. Here the Jews would enjoy a measure of self-government under their own ethnarch, and their own senate, known as the Geroussia. In exchange for this privilege, they were not accorded quite the full rights of Alexandrian citizenship (though almost), and they were told they should confine themselves to the area of the city granted to them.

So what did the Jews of Alexandria do? They set a precedent for what now is occurring in Occupied Palestine: they began building “settlements,” in a manner of speaking. Or in other words, they gradually began to move out of their own quarter into other parts of the city. By the time Gaius Caesar was on the throne in 38 AD, not one, but two of the five districts of Alexandria were now known as the Jewish Quarters. And even beyond these two districts, Jews could be found in other parts of the city as well. The result was the inevitable friction with the rest of the city’s population and one of history’s first recorded pogroms. You can read a bit about the history of ancient Alexandria here, and while the source is a Jewish one, it does allude to some of this.

So this, kind of in a nutshell, is mesirah.

Teen Prostitution Ring in Israel

The question occurs, of course, as to whether the police and other authorities in Israel are considered “secular” or “religious.” I’m not exactly sure what the answer to this is, other than to say of course that the Jewish state is moving increasingly further to the right. But at any rate, the story of a teen prostitution ring, involving girls 14-16, was reported on back in January by Ynet, and also posted at the website of Gilad Atzmon.

Cleared for publication: The Tel Aviv Police recently uncovered a prostitution ring that exploited teenage girls ages 14-16 and has been operating for years.
The case was originally placed under a gag order, which was lifted Monday following the arrest of a key figure in the case, the girls’ “sponsor” within the ring.

The story goes on to quote an unidentified police source as saying, “This isn’t a case involving one or two girls—there are dozens of them. It’s unbelievable.”

And here again one has to wonder—with that many underage girls involved, how did this ring manage to escape the notice of the Israeli police for so long? I’m not wishing to draw any definite conclusions, mind you, but perhaps the following story could at least give us something to think about in that regard:

Cops and Rabbis 



Rabbi Eliyahu Bakshi-Doron is a former Sephardi chief rabbi in Israel who was indicted back in December for allegedly fraudulently “ordaining” Israeli soldiers and police. It seems that in the Jewish state, cops and soldiers are paid significantly more money if they can obtain rabbinic ordination. How much more money? Well, around 2,000 to 4,000 Israeli shekels per month more. That is at least according to a story in the Jerusalem Post. And at the current exchange rate, this would work out to roughly $540 to $1,080 per month more in wages. So how much did the rabbi charge for issuing phony ordination certificates? We don’t know, but here’s an excerpt from the Post’s story:

Ne’emanei Torah Va’Avodah, a national-religious lobbying organization, said the case once again proves the necessity of separating the rabbinate from the political establishment.

“The system is broken,” said Ne’emanei Torah Va’Avodah chairman Shmuel Shetah.

“The connections that exist between the political establishment and the rabbinate are at the root of the problem.”

In November 2007, 10 indictments were handed down over the incident, in which more than 1,000 members of the IDF and police force received false certificates of rabbinic ordination entitling them to an extra NIS 2,000 to NIS 4,000 a month in wages.

Those indicted included the head of the rabbinate’s division for administering exams as well as teachers running specially established educational facilities, set up at the time to train security personnel as rabbis.

Students at these schools were ordained by the Chief Rabbinate, making them eligible for the salary benefits.
The seminaries where the studies took place received registration fees for the classes, and the security personnel studied for five to 10 hours a week for a period of one to two-and-a-half years at most, but received certification that they had taken a five-year yeshiva program, enabling them to receive the pay bonus.

I’m not sure that “separating the rabbinate from the political establishment” will be happening anytime soon, of course, given the recent Israeli elections. The election results “hardened fascist rule,” in the words of Stephen Lendman, who noted that dominant right wing parties now control 102 of 120 Knesset seats. Lendman goes on to say that “Israelis have themselves to blame,” and that “peace is a non-starter.”

For some reason, I’m not quite sure why, I have never included an Israeli political leader in any of our previous Rogues Galleries.

“He’s made of the right stuff”

Here, however, for the first time, I do so. Back in January, just before the elections took place, the New Yorker published a profile on a rising political star on the Israeli right. His name is Naftali Bennett. That’s him in the photo above, seated next to the attractive woman. She is Ayelet Shaked. Both Bennett and Shaked used to work for Benjamin Netanyahu, Bennett as the prime minister’s chief of staff, until, they ran afoul of Netanyahu’s wife, Sara, who got them both fired. Now they are top officials in the “Jewish Home Party.” Bennett is the party leader, while Shaked is a deputy in the movement. In the recent elections, Jewish Home won 12 seats in the Knesset, one more than they had been expected to win. That makes Jewish Home the fourth largest vote-getter in the country—behind Likud, Yesh Atid, and Labor. Shaked seems to be quite an admirer of Bennett. It was she who cooed to the New Yorker reporter, “He’s made of the right stuff.”

With people like this rising to power in Israeli politics, peace is indeed, as Lendman said, a “non-starter.” You’ll soon see why. What follows are some statements, including direct quotes, attributed to Bennett in the New Yorker article:

The Green Line, which demarcates the occupied territories from Israel proper, “has no meaning,” he says, and only a friyer, a sucker, would think otherwise. As one of his slick campaign ads says, “There are certain things that most of us understand will never happen: ‘The Sopranos’ are not coming back for another season . . . and there will never be a peace plan with the Palestinians.” If Bennett becomes Prime Minister someday—and his ambition is as plump and glaring as a harvest moon—he intends to annex most of the West Bank and let Arab cities like Ramallah, Nablus, and Jenin be “self-governing” but “under Israeli security.”

“I will do everything in my power to make sure they never get a state,” he says of the Palestinians. No more negotiations, “no more illusions.” Let them eat crème brûlée.

And this…

Bennett talks about “reviving” Zionism through an infusion of “Jewish values,” including a sense of the sacredness of the land, but he is also a man of the military, and it would not do, as a soldier or as a candidate, to endorse a campaign of disobedience.

And this…

To Bennett, there is nothing complex about the question of occupation. There is no occupation. “The land is ours”: that is pretty much the end of the debate. “I will do everything in my power, forever, to fight against a Palestinian state being founded in the Land of Israel,” he said. “I don’t think there is a clear-cut solution for the Israeli-Arab conflict in this generation.” During the recent assault on Gaza, Bennett was a proponent of a ground invasion and criticized Netanyahu when he limited the conflict to a week of air strikes.

We also are informed of Bennett’s dislike for Yossi Beilin, a figure who passes for a “dove” in Israeli politics:

On occasion, Bennett will do battle in the old Israeli style. On television one night, he got into a shouting match with Yossi Beilin, an architect of the Oslo Peace Accord, in the mid-nineties, telling him that the pact with Yasir Arafat had caused the deaths of sixteen hundred Israelis in terror attacks. “It’s on your hands!” he charged. “You should be ashamed! You gave them guns and they shot at us!” But, for the most part, that has not been his mode on the campaign trail.

We also get an analysis of the current state of political affairs:

What Bennett’s rise, in particular, represents is the attempt of the settlers to cement the occupation and to establish themselves as a vanguard party, the ideological and spiritual core of the entire country. Just as a small coterie of socialist kibbutzniks dominated the ethos and the public institutions of Israel in the first decades of the state’s existence, the religious nationalists, led by the settlers, intend to do so now and in the years ahead. In the liberal tribune Haaretz, the columnist Ari Shavit wrote, “What is now happening is impossible to view as anything but the takeover by a colonial province of its mother country.
… Just as the Republican House leadership moved farther to the right as it accommodated its Tea Party freshmen, Netanyahu will have to form a cabinet that acknowledges the presence of an increasing number of radical right-wingers in his and other parties, including Bennett’s.

Consider especially this:

Much of Naftali Bennett’s support comes from mild-mannered religious suburbanites on both sides of the Green Line, but he has also been blessed by some of the more vehement fundamentalists on the scene. Avichai Rontzki, from 2006 to 2010 the chief rabbi of the I.D.F. and now the head of a yeshiva in the West Bank settlement of Itamar, helped Bennett form the Jewish Home Party. Rontzki has said that soldiers who show their enemies mercy will be “damned,” and, after a prisoner exchange with the Palestinians that he opposed, he said that the I.D.F. should no longer arrest terrorists but, rather, “kill them in their beds.” Dov Lior, the chief rabbi of the settlement of Kiryat Arba and Hebron, once called Baruch Goldstein “holier than all the martyrs of the Holocaust”; he endorsed Bennett before moving on to a smaller, more reactionary party.

Why he wears a kippa:

As a young man, Bennett went into an officer-training course, and, for years,he did not wear a kippa. But after the Rabin assassination, in 1995, he said, “I put it back on. The backlash of the Rabin assassination was a backlash against all the religious—blame them!—which I thought was very unfair. The religious were being kicked, so I did it to be a good example.” As a soldier in Sayeret Matkal, Bennett said, his job was to go behind enemy lines in Lebanon and “kill as many terrorists as possible.”

Annexing the West Bank:

Bennett’s idealism, however, is based on annexation. The settlement project has put four hundred thousand Israelis in the West Bank; under any version of a peace plan remotely acceptable to both sides, well over a hundred thousand settlers would have to be uprooted. “And that just is not going to happen,” he insisted, yet again.

Bennet could well become a prime minister of Israel at some point in the future. I’d say the chances are pretty good. What will his election do to the US-Israel relationship? Will it, for instance, place in jeopardy the $3 billion a year the Jewish state receives from American taxpayers or and the unequivocal support it enjoys from the US Congress? I’d say the chances of that are almost nil.

Celebrating the Talmud

Above I talked about mesirah, and how this prohibition could be a factor in why so many Jews are reluctant to report child molesters to the police. What other factors may also be at play? Could the Talmud be one of them? As I’ve said before, the Talmud condones, or at least seems to condone, sex with children, and there are numerous sites on the Internet offering Talmudic quotations as documentation. You can make of it what you will.

You can also make what you will of 90,000 Jews gathering at a large stadium in the New York City area (specifically MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey) to rejoice and celebrate their “cyclical reading” of the Talmud. This actually took place in August of 2012. Hard to believe? Then check out the videos of the eventthat have been posted by our friend Nahida. The second video offers an overhead, birds-eye view of the scene, and we can see clearly that the stadium is quite full of dancing, celebrating Jews. Nahida, by the way, also gives us a “taster of Talmud,” in which she serves up some of the aforementioned quotations. Check it out. You’ll find it all quite interesting.

And that’s going to do it for this week’s Rogues Gallery. Until next time!

 

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian   The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this Blog!

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