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Tuesday, November 30, 2021 

If Haredi response to accusations against Chaim Walder become new norm, what about LGBT response to accusations against Gal Uchovsky?

There may be some contrasts between the backlash in Haredi communities to the sexual assault charges against the now blacklisted Chaim Walder, and however the Israeli LGBT community is dealing with disgraced, hypocritical screenwriter Gal Uchovsky, who was also accused of sexual assault. First, here's some eyebrow raising news about the youth group the latter worked with knowing there'd been accusations leveled against him before the news became official:
The director-general of LGBTQ+ youth group Israel Gay Youth (IGY) was aware of the sexual assault allegations against former president Gal Uchovsky for two years prior to the opening of the investigation into the matter by Israel Police, KAN News reported on Thursday.

Uchovski resigned from his position at IGY following allegations against him. Uchovski is an Israeli TV personality, journalist and producer against whom an investigation was opened in November.

According to the report, two different cases of sexual assault were brought directly to IGY director-general Ofer Neuman who did not confront Uchovski on the allegations. He also didn't investigate the reports.

"We did not close our eyes or ears to any substantial allegation brought to us," said Neuman.
What a disgrace that man is too. He gives a whole new meaning to "the evil that men do". That's exactly why some accountability is seriously required when it comes to troubling movements like LGBT groups, and below is some news that at least provides a suggestion they may be willing to take a more responsible approach. First though, here's an op-ed by a JTA columnist who says the response by ultra-Orthodox leaders to the Walder scandal needs to become a norm, and asks if this is a significant turning point for the better:
As an abuse survivor who supports and advocates for victims of sexual abuse in Orthodox communities, it’s a question I’ve been asked many times over the last week. That was when Mordy Getz, owner of Eichler’s of Boro Park, a Judaica store in Brooklyn, took the unprecedented step of removing Walder’s books from its shelves, setting off a cascade of action including Feldheim Publishers halting the sale of Walder’s books.

Those who come to me want to know: What led to this moment, and what does it mean for the future of the community? And why do some allegations stand out when so many do not result in swift changes?

Part of the answer may be the unknowable vagaries of human behavior. Sometimes, it is because someone is victimized in a shocking way, or decides to go public with their experiences. Part of it is no doubt thanks to the foundation laid by activists and advocates working to raise awareness and change how people think about the issue. In this case, and some others, careful reporting by reputable journalists lay the facts bare and make them harder to discard. And sometimes it is because there’s a reserve of pent-up frustration that just hits the boiling point.

Too often abuse allegations in the Haredi Orthodox community are met with fierce denials by the accused’s defenders, or stony silence from leaders. Accusers have been vilified and ostracized for daring to come forward, especially, but not only, when the alleged abuser is someone who is revered or beloved by their own community.

I see the impact of that dangerous dynamic all the time, when people in the Haredi community call and tell me their stories of being sexually abused. Consistently, after I explain their legal options, most will express that they’re too scared to come forward because of the backlash they expect to receive. Many are scared they won’t be believed, or of losing their livelihoods, homes or positions in the community, or are concerned about what will happen to their children or loved ones in retaliation.
See, this is a weakness on the victim's part, when they remain within a community that's going to add insult to injury. If they want to leave the fold, they should by all means. That's exactly what made them vulnerable to begin with.

But, while this is important news, one has to wonder why we haven't seen any similar columns addressing when such subjects involved LGBT communities? Will they be willing to distance themselves from his work? Certainly when Haredi offenders commit serious crimes, that should be condemned by all concerned. But if nobody's willing to write about why LGBT activists need to act responsibly, then how can the problem be solved properly when it comes to their movements?

That said, here's some interesting news about LGBT organizations launching programs to combat sexual abuse, although it's unclear if they're going to keep it going on a consistent basis:
After a series of sexual assault and misconduct allegations against gay TV personality Gal Uchovsky and activist Etai Pinkas-Arad, the Agudah-The Association for LGBTQ+ Equality in Israel and additional organizations in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community have launched a plan to combat sexual abuse in that community.

The plan, which will continue for about six months, aims to help create safer spaces by promoting certain behavior and language with zero tolerance for abuse, harassment or exploitation.

The first stage of the plan will launch a campaign to encourage victims of sexual abuse and harassment in the LGBT community to report incidents to centers for vicitms and hotlines from the Agudah. The organizations will also back up the psychosocial network and offer personal and group therapy.

The second stage will involve creating a new code of ethics in the LGBT community to create norms and red lines concerning sexual behavior. The organizations will encourage the public to participate in the creation of the new code and hold conversation circles on the matter. The new code of ethics will be published in the third stage of the plan.
Just six months? Do they honestly think running it briefly will be enough? I'm afraid this too is reason for uncertainty that they actually mean it. Similarly, it doesn't sound like the Haredi community, whose most extreme representatives can cause homosexuality with their customs, is going to lead convincing efforts in the long run. So who knows just how well these 2 movements will actually make an effort to improve? It's just not clear in the end.

And if Uchovsky seemingly apologized for sexual misconduct, will he also be willing to apologize to rabbi Rafi Peretz for crudely attacking him? Something else that's unclear so far.

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