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Monday, March 15, 2021 

More people speak out against Haredi ZAKA director

The Times of Israel says more victims have come forward to testify against Yehuda Meshi-Zahav, revealing more about his past sexual offenses:
More people have reportedly come forward with accusations of sexual assault and abuse by the co-founder and former chairman of the ZAKA volunteer emergency, amid claims that the alleged attacks were commonly known in some parts of the ultra-Orthodox community.

Police were set Sunday to begin examining several accusations against Yehuda Meshi-Zahav, but will have to find viable a case within the statute of limitations, according to media reports.

[...] Tzviki Fleishman, a senior investigator for Magen, told the Kan public broadcaster that the organization has received over six new claims.

“We need to clarify them,” Fleishman said. “The rumors about him were also known to us years ago, but there was nothing concrete to work with.”

A woman identified only as Tal told the Ynet news site that Meshi-Zahav caused her parents to divorce after he sexually exploited her mother. Tal said that Meshi-Zahav later also made advances to her.

Tal said that her family lived in Jerusalem’s ultra-Orthodox Mea Shearim neighborhood and her mother, who was 20 at the time of her second pregnancy, became depressed and Meshi-Zahav took advantage of her mental state, Tal said.

“Behind my father’s back [Meshi-Zahav] turned her into his sex slave,” she said, adding that Meshi-Zahav took advantage of her mother for several months.

“One day my father came home unexpectedly and caught them together, and from there it led to divorce. Yehuda broke apart our family,” said Tal, who eventually left the ultra-Orthodox community at the age of 12.

Some years later she ran into Meshi-Zahav in a shop on Jaffa Street in Jerusalem, close to the ZAKA headquarters.

According to Tal, when Meshi-Zahav recognized her he said, “Perhaps you will come up to my office and I will get to know you more closely like I knew your mother?”

After initially leaving the store in shame, she returned to shout at Meshi-Zahav, she said.

At the time, there was a friend of hers working in the store who had also left the religious community. Tal said that after the clash with Meshi-Zahav, the friend one day approached her in tears and told he had just come from Meshi-Zahav’s office and that the ZAKA chief touched him inappropriately and “forced him to do things” in return for NIS 100 (approximately $30).

Another friend of hers told her that Meshi-Zahav had proposed to her a large payment of money if he could watch her commit an act of bestiality, Tal said.

“The man is a pervert,” Tal said and recalled that after she heard that Meshi-Zahav was to get the Israel Prize she began to “shake all over.”

“It brought things back for me,” she said. “I am crying but glad that in the end it is all coming out.”

Tal assessed that Meshi-Zahav’s abuse had impacted thousands of people.

“He did not stop at any means,”
she said. “He went for everything. He’s a crazy man.”

Tal said that after she posted on Facebook about her experiences she was contacted by dozens of other people claiming they suffered abuse, including ZAKA workers.
And some of those people so far have been reluctant to file police reports, suggesting they're either worried about backlash from the insular Haredi communities, or, it's just too repulsive to deal with the experience. Also disgusting is that the man seems to think paying money over acts without consent that end up doing terrible harm to the victim will somehow alleviate the horror. It doesn't.

The Jerusalem Post has an editorial about the case that also reminds how Islamic communities also have to be held accountable when they allow sexual violence to take place:
It must be stressed that Meshi-Zahav, like any other citizen, is innocent until proven guilty but his case puts the spotlight on a phenomenon. Sexual abuse by people in positions of power and authority, often much older, is abhorrent wherever it is found. The problems, however, are compounded in both haredi (ultra-Orthodox) and extremely conservative Arab communities.

One of the biggest problems is that, without having been taught the correct terms for body parts and with no awareness of sexuality, it can be years before victims have the words to file a complaint – or even be fully aware that what happened to them was a form of abuse.

In addition, there is a terrible fear of the stigma attached. Oftentimes, victims do not see themselves as victims but somehow as partners in the crimes and sins committed against them. It should be noted that in the case of male victims, the problems are often magnified by the fear of the double stigma.

In haredi circles, there is also often a concern that if it becomes known that someone was a victim of sexual abuse, it will ruin their family’s good name and its standing within the community.

In Arab communities, the victim might also be threatened for having brought dishonor to the family and potentially become a victim of an “honor killing.”
The serious drawback in this article is that they won't mention the Religion of Peace itself, obviously stemming from political correctness that only ensures a problem won't be solved if you cannot get to its core. All that aside, most Haredi families who suffer from what occurs in an insular community should all leave it behind, along with the lifestyle, and not allow themselves to be taken advantage of as they practically all were. I'm glad some of the victims left the community, and on that, they did the right thing.
There is also a tendency within the haredi world to try to do everything not to wash dirty laundry in public, and in some communities a determination not to cooperate with state authorities such as the police and courts. Hence, instead of police investigations and criminal proceedings, matters are sometimes “solved” internally, through rabbinical courts.
This is why Malka Leifer was able to evade authorities in both Australia and Israel for quite a while, as the internal Haredi systems just quietly move the culprits to different areas. This is exactly why such communities cannot be allowed to "keep an eye" on felons when it's clear they won't cooperate with the police and inform them if the criminal commits an offense in the insular neighborhood proper.

I hope a case can be made against Meshi-Zahav, but that's exactly why there can't be time limits on when victims can file charges against the culprits. Lawmakers serious about combatting sexual assault have to prove they can draft laws to ensure the victims needn't worry about statutes of limitations.

Update: Ynet says there was an investigation against Meshi-Zahav in 2013, but it was dropped by prosecutors, despite potentially incriminating audio evidence gathered by police. Just one more reason why the leftist court officials in this country are such a disaster.

Update 2: police suspect public figures in the Haredi community covered up the crimes Meshi-Zahav allegedly committed. And in this report, he's described as the Haredi variation on Jeffrey Epstein. In good news, it also says that there have been improvements in the ultra-Orthodox communities in dealing with sexual misconduct.

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