Originally published at 8:10 pm CDT 3-25-2012
Editorial: A Grievous Violation Of Haredi Civil Rights
The time is long overdue for federal intervention
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
As I've been following the coverage of the Trayvon Martin shooting in Florida, I've been thinking a lot about Brooklyn – haredi Brooklyn.
Activists across the country rightly called for a US Department of Justice investigation. And they got one.
So what has this to do with haredim in Brooklyn?
Trayvon Martin appears to have been attacked because of his skin color. His civil rights were denied to him on that basis, and any federal prosecution will have to show that in order to be successful.
Just as Martin suffered because he was black, haredi children in Brooklyn are suffering because they are haredi.
When a pedophile in Brooklyn is reported and prosecuted, his case is not shielded from public view, and he doesn't get special treatment that includes no jail time and sweetheart plea deals that keep him off the sex offender registry.
But when a haredi pedophile is reported and prosecuted, his case is shielded from public view and he does very often get a sweetheart plea deal that keeps him out of prision off the sex offender registry.
Besides violating the civil rights of non-haredi communities, the Brooklyn D.A.'s kid glove treatment of haredi pedophiles violates the civil rights of haredi children who, through no fault of their own, are born haredi. They suffer because the DA allows their tormentors to walk free.
The same holds true for most haredi boys in Brooklyn who are exposed to disease and death by metzitzah b'peh (MBP), the direct oral to genital suction applied by the mohel to the baby's bleeding circumcision wound now practiced only by haredim.
Even though babies have been sickened and died, even though babies have been sickened and maimed, even though babies have been sickened and suffered brain damage and mental retardation from MBP, the state and the city have failed to ban MBP or adequately regulate circumcision.
And the Brooklyn DA, charged with investigating the latest death that happened this past September, has done nothing of note. Indeed, it seems his investigation may be nothing more than window dressing.
Again, haredi children are put at risk by the misbehavior of public officials.
In the Trayvon Martin case, Martin's family, friends and neighbors protested. The wider civil rights community protested. And the federal government acted.
But the families of these dead and sickened haredi babies are not protesting and neither are their haredi neighbors or the haredi community.
Because the violators of these babies' civil rights are those parents, are those neighbors, are the haredi community and its rabbinic leadership.
And the same is true in the case of child sex abuse. It is the parents, neighbors, the haredi community and its rabbinic leadership who deprive these children of their civil rights. They're ones who lobbied the DA for preferential treatment for haredi pedophiles. And they're the ones who lobby the DA and the city and state health departments to protect the mohels and MBP.
Minors cannot consent.
The boys raped and abused by haredi pedophiles cannot legally consent to the actions of their rabbinic and community leaders.
And the baby boys subjected to MBP cannot consent.
And therefore the city and the state must protect their civil rights, including their right to life.
But neither has done so.
When cities and states refuse to protect the civil rights of their citizens, the federal government steps in.
That is what happened when Lemrick Nelson murdered Yankel Rosenbaum in the Crown Heights pogrom.
That is what happened when El Sayyid Nosair murdered Rabbi Meir Kahane.
That is what happened when Trayvon Martin was shot in Florida.
And it should be what happens when haredi children are put at risk by the malfeasance and misbehavior of city and state officials and by the negligence of their parents.