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Friday, October 07, 2022 

BBC reports on sexual abuse scandals in Haredi societies

Since this is a far-left outfit like the BBC reporting on the subject, it'll obviously have to be taken with a grain of salt in its own way, based on how anti-Israel they are, but, for anybody who wants to know what's being told about recent sexual abuse scandals in the Haredi world, this news in itself is important:
When senior ultra-Orthodox Jews in Israel tried to silence or blame victims of sexual abuse who had been allegedly attacked by high-profile men in the community, young people expressed their anger. Some likened the furious response by young haredi Jews - for whom talk of sex is taboo and reaching out to police is often not an option - to the #MeToo movement.

Shayli Tevel weeps as he prays, calling out to God: "Father, I've no energy left to absorb all this."

The former ultra-Orthodox Jew is wearing a white prayer shawl and tefillin - long leather straps with small boxes attached, containing scrolls with verses from the Torah.

After a decade of silence, Shayli, now in his early 30s, has recently broken strict religious conventions and spoken publicly about being groomed and sexually abused between the ages of 12 and 19, by a leading ultra-Orthodox - or haredi - figure.

The man Shayli accuses of abusing him is Yehuda Meshi Zahav, famous in Israel as a social activist and the founder of an emergency rescue service.

"Everyone gave him respect and I wanted to be around him," Shayli says. One of 13 children, Shayli often craved attention and felt flattered to be singled out by Meshi Zahav.

Then, one day, Meshi Zahav offered him a free T-shirt. "When he put [it] on, he put his hand inside my pants."

There is no sex education at Jewish seminaries called yeshivas - like the ones where Shayli received all his schooling - and he found it hard to articulate the abuse to others

He thought about harming himself. "I didn't want life anymore," he says.

In his early 20s, Shayli did go to the police, but their first investigation of Meshi Zahav was soon closed. "Everywhere I mentioned his name, the door was shut," he says.

But that changed in 2021, just after it was announced that Zahav had won the esteemed Israel Prize - regarded as the country's highest cultural honour. A newspaper published accusations of how since the 1980s, Zahav had been using his status and power to assault women and children.

Meshi Zahav denied it and after police opened an investigation, he tried to kill himself, ending up in a coma.

But the Meshi Zahav case hasn't been the only recent high-profile sex abuse scandal to have come to light among haredi Jews - who make up about 12% of Israel's population.

Romi Schwartz, now 40, was sexually abused as a child and later raped by children's book author, therapist, and media personality Rabbi Chaim Walder to whom she had turned for help.

"He was like a mentor, a guru. The kids' whisperer," Romi says of Walder. His children's books were found in almost every ultra-Orthodox home.

After her family arranged her marriage at the age of 17, Romi was still having panic attacks from her childhood trauma. Her husband tried to help by arranging therapy sessions with Walder.

Romi says she felt reassured at first. "He said I'm going to be there for you."

But after a year, he took advantage of her trust and the fact she had led a sheltered life. He sexually assaulted her in his book storeroom and later tricked her into going to a hotel, where he raped her.
Both of these "gurus" are now dead, the former having died after spending time in a coma from his own suicide attempt, and the latter having killed himself with a handgun, and it remains unclear whether he had a license and permit to carry it. What makes this a most sad affair is that, as a result, their victims get no actual closure through a legal courthouse hearing on the issue, and the Israeli police pretty much failed the victims by not taking any proper steps to arrest the culprits and incarcerate them till legal proceedings could begin. And the Haredi leaderships made no improvement when they airbrushed the offenders, which resulted in one of Walder's victims committing suicide. As one activist said:
Religious activist, Shoshana Keats Jaskoll, says she and others couldn't believe that Walder was still being defended, and that it was his victims who were being blamed.

She said their reaction prompted an "explosion" of anger and "an absolute revolution in the haredi community".

Avigayl Heilbronn, who describes herself as a modern haredi, is one of a growing number of women trying to raise awareness in a community which shuns the internet.
A better idea would be for such activists to abandon the lifestyle altogether, since that very insularity to the point the web in shunned has resulted in scores of otherwise uninformed flock members, who can't spot the wolves among them, and the worst part is when these clans become riotous extremists who create situations where attention is taken away from more disturbing issues like Islamic terrorism. And since we're on the subject of riots, here's another report about Haredi extremists causing road blockage after a member of their clan refused to join the army:
Hundreds of ultra-Orthodox men blocked two major intersections near the entrance to Jerusalem on Thursday, in protest of the arrest of a Haredi draft-refuser who had tried to leave the country.

The protesters, members of the extremist Friedman faction, first gathered at the intersection of Sarei Yisrael and Nordau streets, where they blocked the city’s light rail and caused heavy delays around the capital’s central bus and train stations.

Demonstrators then walked to the nearby Chords Bridge, where they lay on the road and blocked traffic in and out of the main entrance to the city for approximately an hour, Israel Police said.

Police attempted to disperse protestors with water cannons, and some were seen dragging protesters lying in the intersection away from there. Police said they took such measures only after a verbal order to disperse was ignored by demonstrators.

Members of the faction, which is considered extreme even among the ultra-Orthodox in Jerusalem, were heard chanting, “We will die and not be drafted,” as well as, “I will not join the army of destruction,” the Ynet news site reported.
This very much echoes far-left propaganda, and it wouldn't be the least bit shocking if they were a front group for the same. That's exactly why many of these clans are an embarrassment in their insularity.

And one more thing: the first topic is exactly why sex education is needed in ultra-Orthodox schools, in order to understand how to combat sexual abuse. Of course, if it's better to only have it in classes for 13 and up, then it should only be done that way. But otherwise, how can anybody expect to truly prevent sexual predators from destroying lives in insular societies like these if they have no understanding of sex education? That's something the folks who did the previous news reporting have to ponder.

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