The Jewish Press has posted an op-ed on child sexual abuse reporting
written by a sometime spokesperson for Neturei Karta, Rabbi Hillel
“William” Handler. Handler also served as a spokesperson for the
campaign to raise funds to support convicted child rapist Rabbi Yisroel
Weingarten, who Handler insisted was innocent because the girl
Weingarten raped – Weingarten’s own daughter – couldn’t be believed, despite the evidence supporting her. The Jewish Press posted this atrocity less than a week after posting a "news report" from its Internet editor, Yori Yanover, that attacked little children who say they were sexually abused by their teacher.
The Jewish Press has posted an op-ed on child sexual abuse reporting written by a sometime spokesperson for Neturei Karta, Rabbi Hillel “William” Handler.
Handler also served as a spokesperson for the campaign to raise funds to support convicted child rapist Rabbi Israel "Yisroel" Weingarten, who Handler insisted was innocent because the girl Weingarten raped – Weingarten’s own daughter – couldn’t be believed.
That Weingarten’s defense was bizarre and unbelievable, that he repeatedly acted bizarrely toward that daughter in court, and leading haredi rabbis in Europe had previously heard allegations that Weingarten was sexually abusing that daughter and found the allegations credible – although it stopped short of doing anything to stop the abuse for reasons Handler has previously endorsed, including the notion that no matter what the crime, a frume Yid doesn’t belong in prison, and because it lacked the power to do much of anything anyway.
Handler’s article carries an unsigned editorial note from the editor, who is the infamous Yori Yanover.
Yanover has a long history of harassing anti-child-sexual-abuse activists and of online stalking of them. He has also publicly defended sexual abusers and has been an opponent of any credible measure proposed to limit and, hopefully end, sexual abuse.
On top of that, Yanover has a long history of dishonesty.
Perhaps the most appalling example of that is when he wrote what was supposed to be an in-depth article on Chabad and Chabad messianism for the Forward a decade ago, when the issue was still raw.
Yanover did not tell the Forward that he worked for Chabad and had even been involved in creating some of the spin Chabad used to try to obscure this very un-Jewish form of messianism from the public.
This is a clear conflict of interest that Yanover ethically had to disclose to his readers and to the Forward.
Yanover did neither, and was unofficially banned from the Forward as a result.
So how did Yanover become the editor of the Internet edition of the Jewish Press – especially when it was warned by multiple people, including me, that Yanover’s background of deception and harassment should disqualify him for the job?
That is a question the Jewish Press has never answered.
Yanover’s editorial note criticizes haredi gedolim for their failures to properly handle child sexual abuse cases, but still comes close to endorsing Handler’s idea that these gedolim should decide which child sexual abuse cases (if any) should be reported to the DA, police or child protection services:
“Rabbi Handler probably has very little in common with our Zionist, pro-Israel editorial policy, nor does he probably endorse our view that the Internet can be used sanely by educated religious Jews. Yet, when he sent us the following article for publication, I was struck by one important argument he is making which we, as a religious community, should debate:
“Do we want the City and State child welfare authorities, as well as the City and State legal systems, to be automatically in charge of cases of child abuse in our community? Rabbi Handler says we don’t—and tries to argue in favor of turning to Gdolei Yisroel to supervise and even try these cases.
“Personally, I don’t believe the author is making a successful argument, in light of the colossal failure of our religious leaders to respond, much less supervise and try, in one abuse case after another. But, those failures aside, is Rabbi Handler wrong in proposing that when we invite the secular authorities into our community, we’re doing this to our own detriment? Should we accept that our Gedolim simply will not measure up to this challenge?”
Rabbi Moshe Feinstein would argue that Handler – and Yanover – are both wrong and would urge these cases to be reported to police.
In all cases where there are witnesses and/or credible physical evidence – blood or sperm (or both) in a little child’s underwear, for example, or seeing a heder teacher seclude himself in a locked and shuttered room alone with a small child, for another – the late haredi leader Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv and many other leading poskim (rabbis who decide cases of Jewish law) would argue that the crime or alleged crime should be immediately reported to police. They would also classify the abuser as a rodef in order to remove any idea that the prohibition of mesira (informing on a Jew to gentile or secular Jewish authorities) would be in place.
But very often in the most closed haredi communities in the Diaspora and in Israel, those reports to police are not made, because haredi rabbis – like many from Handler’s and Weingarten’s Satmar community – forbid it.
We’ve seen a a series of Satmar men arrested and convicted of child sexual abuse, and in all of those cases the Satmar community has supported the abuser and demonized the victim and his or her supporters.
Indeed, in the case of Nechemya Weberman, the Satmar community held a prominent public fundraiser for him. Satmar-hasid-owned newspapers campaigned for him and against the victim, and in a public address attended by tens of thousands of Satmar hasidim, the Kiryas Joel Satmar Rebbe Rabbi Aharon Teitelbaum equated the victim with a prostitute and slandered her and her handful of public supporters.
Never once did Satmar in any of its forms show any sympathy for the victim.
Weberman was found guilty of abusing the girl nonetheless.
Several other girls told the DA and reporters that were also sexually abused by Weberman – who was an unlicensed and untrained counsellor of “problem” young teenage girls whose clients came from Satmar schools that often allegedly ordered parents to send their children to Weberman or face the child’s expulsion from school and the parents’ shunning by the Satmar community if they refused.
But these other victims admitted they were afraid to press charges because of the extreme abuse and shunning the victim who did come forward and her family faced then – and, I should add, still face today.
Handler and Yanover both misrepresent how he American justice system works. Handler may be doing this from ignorance; Yanover is almost certainly doing it intentionally.
America has an adversarial system of justice.
An alleged victim accuses a person of a crime.
Police investigate and, if they find evidence supporting the claims, they ask for an arrest warrant.
Prosecutors then examine the evidence, interview the suspect themselves and decide whether to bring the suspect to trial.
If they do decide to bring the suspect to trial, a jury (or, sometimes, only a judge) hears the case and ultimately make the decision on guilt or innocence.
And through this entire process, one (and very often more) judges oversee to make sure police and prosecutors have followed the law.
A convicted person has the right to appeal.
Throughout the process, suspects and convicted criminals who cannot afford to pay for an attorney get one – usually an overworked and underpaid attorney with few resources but an attorney nonetheless – paid for by us.
When the victim of a crime is a minor, the state has a special legal responsibility to protect that child.
Before DNA testing was available and security cameras existed, the vast majority of criminal prosecutions consisted of a victim or victims testifying that a suspect had committed a crime against them.
In almost every sex crime, it was one witness – the alleged victim – testifying against the alleged criminal.
Judges and juries heard that testimony, heard any refuting testimony and evidence presented by the defense, and rendered a verdict.
The same exact type of evidence was given in cases of robbery on dark streets late at night, store holdups, and similar crimes.
Judges and juries were not always correct then and they are not always correct now. But then as now they were correct far more often than not – a claim today’s gedolim, who protected Rabbis Yehuda Kolko, Yosef Kolko, Yisroel Weingarten, and slew of other molesters – cannot make.
But this avoids the point.
We live in galut (exile) and as halakha (Jewish law) teaches, the law of the land you’re living in is the law – unless that law is clearly antisemitic or unless Jews get on average much harsher punishments than non-Jews do.
(Look at the large number of blacks who were incarcerated for long sentences for selling crack cocaine, and compare those sentences to the much shorter sentences given Jews and other whites for selling powder cocaine for one example out of many that shows while the American justice system may be racist, it is not antisemetic.)
If Orthodox or haredi Jews do not like the American justice system, work to change it.
But the Orthodox and haredim cannot and should not be allowed to have their own separate system of criminal justice.
What about false allegations?
Statistically, false allegations in pure abuse cases are exceedingly rare. When the abuse allegations are intertwined with a divorce or a child custody fight, though, that number goes up dramatically. In those cases, the number of false allegations are still a minority, and many – but not all –are quickly weeded out by police.
Halacha recognizes that people lie (and has procedures in place to deal with that). Even so, it still mandates cases be prosecuted and judged. It does not say that many cases of X are actually false allegations, therefore do not prosecute X.
But what about the idea that two witnesses have to see the crime take place and have to warn the criminal not to commit it just before the crime is committed for testimony to be valid in beit din?
For centuries, beit dins have disregarded those apparently biblical requirements because to do otherwise leads to anarchy and violence and the persecution of the weak by the strong.
To protect the community from predatory criminals, halakha actually even allows poskim and dayanim (beit din rabbi-judges) to imprison a predatory criminal even though there are no witnesses to his alleged crime and the evidence against him is wholly circumstantial.
These are points that the enablers of pedophiles and criminals do not make; they are the facts these enablers never bother to tell, and Yanover and Handler are no different.
I won’t belabor these points further; you’ve already seen me (and heard me) make them many times before.
But I will pull one quote from Handler’s idiotic article to show you how devoid of reality Handler and his fellow travelers really are.
”Do prosecutors always do their job properly; do they always seek justice?
“Those of you who have followed the Sholom Rubashkin case closely, know that prosecutors don’t necessarily care about the truth—often, their actions are based on political considerations, or they just want to show another successful conviction on their resume, and they’re willing to get it by any means necessary, legitimate or otherwise.”
The evidence against Rubashkin was and is overwhelming.
Prosecutors presented a paper trail showing Sholom Rubashkin knowing inflated the value of his inventory and accounts receivable in order to deceive his lenders.
To achieve this, Rubashkin laundered millions of dollars through Chabad charities he controlled or influenced – much of it still unaccounted for five years later.
He kept two payrolls for workers, one for the documented legal workers and one for the undocumented immigrants who were paid less and exploited much more.
He lied to federal investigators, perjured himself in court and obstructed justice.
He was tried, convicted by a federal jury, lost his appeals, appealed to the US Supreme Court and was rejected.
Throughout, he had the best legal representation anyone’s money could buy, including a former solicitor general of the US.
But communities that traffic in conspiracy theories and magical thinking – like, for example, rejecting the medical opinions of hundreds of the world’s leading pediatric infectious disease specialists because the so-called gedolim (leading haredi rabbis) say that metzitzah b’peh (the direct mouth-to-bleeding-penis sucking done by haredi mohels after removing babies’ foreskins) claim it is a health measure that benefits the babies, and blaming opposition to MBP on a conspiracy headed by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and unnamed “self-hating” and “antisemitic” doctors – tend not evaluate evidence well, and they tend to disregard any evidence that conflicts with their worldview.
Therefore it should come as no surprise that this enabler of and protector of pedophiles is a member of the
“The BrisMILAH Anti-Defamation League,” which has labeled New York City’s successful attempt to require parents to sign an informed consent acknowledgement before allowing their child to be circumcised in a procedure including MBP a “blood libel.”