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January 31, 2013

London Haredim Rip Channel 4, Call Report An Attempt To "Defame" Haredim

Rabbi Ephraim PadwaThe Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations (Kedassia) ripped Channel 4's documentary on haredi child sexual abuse, calling the report, which aired last night, and attempt to "defame" the haredi community. It also criticized Channel 4's use of anonymous sources from inside the haredi community. “Our community does not need Channel 4 to remind us of our duty and responsibility to protect our children. They are our future, and we do all we can to protect them from these unspeakable crimes," UOHC said.

Rabbi Ephraim Padwa
Rabbi Ephraim Padwa

The Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations (Kedassia) ripped Channel 4's documentary on haredi child sexual abuse, calling the report, which aired last night, and attempt to "defame" the haredi community. It also criticized Channel 4's use of anonymous sources from inside the haredi community. “Our community does not need Channel 4 to remind us of our duty and responsibility to protect our children. They are our future, and we do all we can to protect them from these unspeakable crimes," a UOHC spokesman told the Times of Israel.

“For a number of years, we have worked with the local authorities and, where appropriate, the police, and we have robust procedures in place within all our schools. Let us now hope that Channel 4′s attempt to defame us does not discourage victims from coming forward to seek the help and guidance of our Child Protection Services,” UOHC's spokesman continued.

The UOHC also claimed that the documentary “has done nothing to assist, and may have damaged, the chances of bringing abusers to justice.”

Are the haredi complaints valid?

For the most part, no.

As the Channel 4 report made clear, haredim who break ranks and call police are harassed by the community and often forced to leave it entirely.

Those of us who follow this issue are familiar with the type of harassment these whistleblowers receive, from their children being expelled from haredi schools and parents' being fired from community jobs, to threats of violence, extortion and actual violence committed against them. So it is not surprising that haredim would be afraid to come forward on the record and allow their names and pictures to be used by the press, which is why the haredi whistleblowers were not named in last night's report, and that is why their faces were not shown.

Enter the Times of Israel, whose London reporter reports the haredi complaints but chooses not to speak to anti-child-sexual abuse activists or journalism experts to balance them.

The Times of Israel also does not report that Channel 4 reported in that documentary that it checked with the local government council in an area of Manchester to see if any haredi school had reported a staff member suspected of child sexual abuse to social services or police from 2010, when such reports became mandatory by law, until last month as the documentary was being edited. The local council replied that none had done so – even though Rabbi Osher Westheim is caught on hidden camera discussing an active case of suspected child sexual abuse by a teacher at a haredi school in that local council's area during that time frame. (This is found at 28:44 of the video.)

Does this rebut haredi charges of bias? Yes, it does. Does it make haredi claims regarding their supposed open cooperation with police and social services suspect? You bet it does.

Should the Times of Israel readers have been told about Channel 4's information received from the local governing council? Of course. But they were not. All they were told about was Westheim's claim of cooperation with police and social services and his claim of making quiet attempts to settle some cases himself, including having pedophiles pay victims damages – in one case, $5,000.

A Jewish Studies academic, Yaakov Wise, tells the Times of Israel that the report will have no impact because haredim don't watch TV. Wise also complains that the Channel 4 report missed the key issue, which to what passes for Wise's mind is not child sexual abuse coverups. Instead, Wise thinks the haredi community's move to the right over the past two decades there and its increased self-imposed social isolation is the real story.

While I agree it is an important story and that it impacts how child sexual abuse is handled in the haredi community, Wise's premise is factually wrong. Were there more liberal haredi rabbis in power two decades ago there who were more open to reporting child sexual abuse? Perhaps. But there were other haredi rabbis there who were just as opposed to reporting child sexual abuse to police or social services as UOHC head Rabbi Ephraim Padwa is now. And Wise – who appears to be Orthodox himself – brings no proof that the handling of child sexual abuse cases was significantly better 30 years ago other than his alleged personal experience.

The Times of Israel 'broke' the story of the letter written by UOHC a couple days before the Channel 4 report aired clarifying its position on child sexual abuse reporting.

That letter talks about a special committee set up by UOHC to handle allegations, was reported uncritically by the Times of Israel, never noting – or probably even understanding – that the letter was clearly telling haredim to report these crimes to UOHC's committee, which would evaluate the evidence. If the committee thought police or social services should be contacted, it would consult with the UOHC bet din (religious court). It would decide whether police and social services should be notified.

For years, haredi rabbis have covered up child sexual abuse allegations by ordering their followers to report the crimes to them, not to police.

It is the major issue of the anti-haredi-child-sexual-abuse movement, a totem that has been reported on by almost every major newspaper in the western world.

Yet the Times of Israel omits it from today's report and from it's 'exclusive' report on the UOHC letter.

On the other hand, Channel 4 accurately reported the contents of the letter, pointing out that it still told haredim to report crimes directly to the rabbis.

Also, earlier Times of Israel reports clearly took information posted by a British blog, IfYouTickleUs, and used it without attributing its source.

Sof sof, in the end, to report on haredi child sexual abuse and to not report what is the most important part of the story, what is the focus of the Channel 4 report itself, and what is a clear rebuttal of haredi charges against Channel 4, is inexcusable.

Children are being raped and sexually abused.

Channel 4 has accurately, clearly and ethically documented haredi rabbis' behavior that prevents these crimes from being promptly reported to police and social services.

Perhaps one day the Times of Israel will learn how to do that.

Comments

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Ha so it is Keddasiah after all.

It's a farce really. They play the victim card, whilst they are a bunch of pathetic thugs, and use the religious pretext when they need to.

They abuse the Mesirah concept onto something it was never intended to be. This is a bastardization of the term Jewish and Judaism.

Unfortunately the children are brainwashed and very few although Thank G-d, their numbers are rising, can understand how demented the whole system has become.

Only by reporting to them the truth and reality, you can save a life.

“Our community does not need Channel 4 to remind us of our duty and responsibility to protect our children. They are our future, and we do all we can to protect them from these unspeakable crimes..."

Which is why you refuse to report molesters to the authorities and ostracize anyone who chooses to come forward. Am I missing something here!?

Sorry but the manchester local authority is wrong, it is only able to answer for schools which are supported by them.
There are private schools in manchester who have thrown out paedophiles, and it is from these that rabbi westheim was speaking.

London Haredim Rip Channel 4, Call Report An Attempt To "Defame" Haredim

it really should read London Haredim Rip Channel 4, Call Report An "exposing" Haredim

and they are being exposing in London, NY, and of course Israel their house of cards is crumpling

The claim made by many in the charedi leaderhsip that they properly deal with child sex abuse is just not credible. This is due to the fact we now have multiple high powered charedi leaders stating not to go to the police, and further we know that charedim who have gone to the police have been ostracized from their communities.

Sorry but the manchester local authority is wrong, it is only able to answer for schools which are supported by them.
There are private schools in manchester who have thrown out paedophiles, and it is from these that rabbi westheim was speaking.

Posted by: mr | February 01, 2013 at 06:16 AM

I believe since 2010 the law is that any school has to report suspected, alleged or known child sexual abuse to police or social services.

Westheim did not report.

No one in this world can defame hareidim as much as the hareidim themselfs,they are their own worst enemy.

Mr. Name a school that threw out a paedo and informed the police? Kicking someone out only allows them to go elsewhere and carry on abusing children.

Our community does not need Channel 4 to remind us of our duty and responsibility to protect our children.

Oh yes it does. The Haredim have no idea how far they've fallen because they only see what they want to see.

"Kedassia" LOL.

Great comments from what appear to be different cominators.

Does anyone have a link to watch to the video online?

mr, are you for real? the manchester chadorim are crawling with suspected sickos so don't be so naive? And they have certainly not thrown them out!

Oy Vey Is Mier, the Rebbe is a Queer

Westheim is not the headmaster of any school. So you are as guilty of not reporting as he is reb shmaryah. Not that I'm a fan of his profiteering from meat. c4 has a history of low budget bad quality sensationalism. Personally I don't believe the school involved did follow procedure. Based on the shoddy journalism of c4 I couldn't say that I'm certain about that beyond all reasonable doubt.

Well, no reports on file with the local council would seem to prove you wrong.

(a) There are 3 possible councils (Bury, Manchester and Salford) in which "Haredee" schools are located. Out of ignorance and incompetence the council only asked 1. (b) There is insufficient evidence about what exactly constituted an "orange alert" to say whether there were reasonable grounds for suspicions, as the law mandates there needs to be. And (c) Westheim is not a headmaster, teacher, and doesn't hold any other position with a school. He's a local dayan who probably does gets consulted by the school staff. He's no more obliged to report his suspicions than you are.

While I think it is likely the school involved didn't follow the correct procedures, I think C4's shoddy journalism didn't prove that beyond reasonable doubt.

I would not seek to minimise the impact of child abuse in the community which is severe. However the tripe served up by C4 is not helping. They entrapped one of the good guys.

It is a symptom of the self hating Jew syndrome that without any corroboration, you assume Channel 4 to be correct.

Please.

Channel 4 knows which local council the haredi school reports to. It asked that council if any reports had been made and the answer was no.

That you assume Channel 4 didn't know which of the three local councils to ask is wholly unsupported by any facts. You simply assert this to be true because, well, you say it is.

The rest of what you write is insane.

Do you think Westheim did not tell the headmaster about the alleged abuse? Do you think Westheim would rish the safety of all those children by withholding that information? Are you too stupid to understand that Channel 4 has more footage and more information it did not air?

Reb shmya, please not the please!

I can't comment on any footage not aired. Neither can you (or if you can, please post it).

"Channel 4 knows which local council the haredi school reports to." in fact they specifically asked the one council (Salford) if *any* school had reported abuse, precisely because they had no clear idea what Westheim was talking about. In fact, such is the problem of paedophillia in Manchester, it probably could have been three or four schools where there are abusers present...!

I do think Westheim and the headmaster probably spoke about the abuse. The obscure legal obligation (and I would like to see a mekor for this obligation) to report abuse to the local council surely rested with the headmaster rather than his Rabbi-confidante? The headmaster probably (though not definitely) screwed up - not Westheim.

Biggest screw up at all was channel 4. The program was full of moments of low quality production, and, Padwa video aside was very light on content. Why, oh why, do you assume the goyim are always right?

One last thing. The "please." Please what? Please pander to my ignorance? Please allow me to post defamatory comments about a fellow human being without being challenged? You use it so often, and it means so little.

You really have no idea how journalism works and your clear ignorance is appalling to those of us who do.

So do try to process, little man: Channel 4 has lots of information it could not broadcast due to various UK laws, due to open police investigations, and due to time and space limitations.

Westheim did not report. No haredi school in Manchester reported.

And you are a fool.

Bluffing with bad cards visible to public not wise. Bluster won't help.

I don't have any bad cards.

They look bad to you because you're ignorant.

Either that, or you're lying to protect Westheim.

Either way, you're wrong.

Shmarya, I don't know nothing. Neither do you.

You have already been caught quoting bechadrei chadarim as though it was a reasonable source.

I suspect (but cannot be sure) that your 'journalistic' source was an anonymous non specific commenter on the IYTU blog mentioning unfilmed footage (yes, I read that blog too) as though it proved Westheim was guilty of something.... the guy didn't even say what was on the footage for goodness sake! If I'm wrong, put up the footage you have privileged access to!

Anyway, you haven't dealt with the other substantive points.

Channel 4 didn't know which school Westheim was dealing with, were ignorant about the geographic spread of "haredee" schools, didn't gather watertight evidence, and therefore can legitimately be described as sloppy.

Neither did they have any evidence that the "orange alert" was a suspicion based on less than reasonable grounds.

Not that I needed to prove that they were sloppy, because you saw and heard with your own eyes how little effort they put into holding Hebrew writing the right way up and pronouncing Hebrew words with the slightest sympathy.

It is a sad world indeed, Shmarya, if I opened up a blog, and accused you publicly of not reporting on the abuse of little kids on the basis that you cannot disprove that this was on the unseen footage on channel 4, and because this fitted well with my world view.

It would be an obscene, hysterical world.

It would be your world.

You really are an ignorant fool.

If you knew how journalism works, you would realize how totally stupid you sound.

But you don't, so you don't.

Don't go through life an ignoramus. Learn.

I do realise how journalism works . That's why I don't lap up every biggest or cheaply produced documentary as toras Moshe misinai. The name calling is a sure sign of a failing messiah.

Oh VoR, you laughable shitbag. Decrying something as shoddy, low quality journalism because you don't like the subject matter is an indication of where your loyalties lie. Exposing Haredi child rapists is never a bad thing.


Back on topic, Yossi the shoteh really showed himself as the guano-brained tossbag that he is. I'm ecstatic that the documentary was made and aired. No longer will the yidiots be seen as harmless, old fashioned folk. People will see that when it comes to raping little kids, they're basically catholics with beards.

If you bothered reading what I said you'd realise I do take the matter very seriously. That's why investigations should be of a high quality. Ad hominem attacks are not a substitute for pointing out any problem in what I said - that it is as fair to accuse Dayan Westheim of covering up paedophillia on the basis of some unknown, unseen footage as it is to accuse you.

The topic was what happens in London and Manchester, not what some producer from Channel 4 needed to use as filler to pad out their program. The world doesn't revolve around New York.

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