Barney Zwartz's article in The Age:
The Jewish community's internal response from the Executive Council of Australian Jewry:
Jewish community embroiled in new child sex charges
Barney Zwartz • The Age
A NEW child-sex scandal has hit Melbourne's Jewish community, with a man to stand trial next year on more than 25 charges of sexual intercourse with a child under 16, sexual penetration of a child under 16 and indecent acts.
The name of the man, the organisation and the alleged victims have been suppressed, but the case involves a Jewish organisation.
Fairfax Media understands that the man is not Jewish, nor are some of the many victims, and some of the alleged offences took place overseas a decade ago. He will be tried in the County Court on July 15 next year.
The community was already in shock over other abuse cases at two schools in Melbourne, run by the Orthodox Chabad movement and the ultra-Orthodox Adass Israel.
Manny Waks, a victim while a student at Yeshivah College - part of the Chabad movement's Yeshivah Centre in East St Kilda - said the Jewish community faced a crisis in addressing sex abuse and that the communal leadership had mishandled the scandal.
Allegations have been made against two employees of Yeshivah College. Former security guard David Cyprys will stand trial next July on 41 charges of child rape and other sexual abuse against 12 students in the 1980s, and former teacher David Kramer is awaiting extradition from the United States over claims that he abused four boys at the college between 1989 and 1992. Kramer was jailed in 2008 in the US for molesting a 12-year-old boy at a synagogue there.
In the Adass case, Adass Israel girls' school principal Malka Leifer fled to Israel after allegations that she abused several girls.
Mr Waks said: ''We need to ensure we respond in the most appropriate way - with sensitivity, compassion, accountability and transparency. All perpetrators, their facilitators and those engaged in a cover-up must be held to full account.''
He said Jewish communal groups such as the Executive Council for Australian Jewry had not made tackling child sexual abuse a high-enough priority.
Dr Danny Lamm, president of the Executive Council, said the council was unequivocal in that the welfare of children came first, perpetrators should be investigated and charged and the community organisations should co-operate fully.
''The abuse of children in any way … is abhorrent, particularly when it is perpetrated by those in positions of trust and authority. All claims of abuse must be treated with the utmost seriousness,'' Dr Lamm said.
Contrary to the salacious, misleading and deceptive headline in the Barney Zwarz story in the Fairfax media today (http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/jewish-community-embroiled-in-new-child-sex-charges-20121129-2ahrj.html#ixzz2DZv9qRwx), “the Jewish community” is not “embroiled in new child sex scandal charges”.
Allegations of serious sexual abuse in incidents some 15 to 20 years ago have been made in relation to Yeshiva College in Melbourne and are being dealt with by the courts. Allegations have also been made in connection with at least two other Jewish organisations. In the latest allegations, neither the alleged perpetrator nor many of the alleged victims are Jewish. So to smear the entire “Jewish community” in this way is outrageous. Unlike, for example, the Catholic Church, the Jewish community is not a single organisation and cannot act as such.
As for the claim that communal organisations have done nothing about this issue, Barney Zwarz was provided with the attached media releases dated 14 and 27 November 2012but there is no mention of them or their contents in his report.
Further, the ECAJ today lodged its submission with the Royal Commission into Child Sexual Abuse in response to the Federal government’s consultation paper. A copy of the submission is also attached.
The alleged Israel-obsession is also nonsense. There is no domestic issue affecting the Jewish community which we have not dealt with. The ECAJ’s Objects, as set out in its Constitution are:
(a) To represent and speak officially on behalf of Australian Jewry.
(b) To take such action as it considers necessary on behalf of Australian Jewry in matters that concern Australian Jewry or Jewry in other parts of the world.
(c) To support and strengthen the connection of Australian Jewry with the State of Israel.
Peter Wertheim AM | Executive Director’
The lead victim in the Chabad child sexual abuse scandals, Manny Waks, responds to Wertheim:
• Did the ECAJ find yesterday’s Fairfax article entitled ‘Gillard under Jewish pressure over Palestine’ also ‘salacious, misleading and deceptive headline’? Did it say anything about it? I know many within the Jewish community who were appalled at the pressure, especially coming from the ECAJ. But I haven’t heard that the ECAJ raised this headline as an issue. It wasn’t ‘Jewish pressure’ but pressure from the pro-Israel lobby (and like every other lobby, of course this lobby also has every right to lobby). So clearly they’re being selective in their criticism.
• Let’s be clear, the allegations we are talking about include allegations of child sexual abuse up to the past couple of years. I’m personally aware of serious allegations of abuse that occurred under three years ago (and I understand that there are also allegations of abuse even more recently). I am aware of at least two young paedophiles roaming around our community. Obviously the ECAJ is not aware that it often takes literally decades for victims to take action. Just because no statement has been given to police does not mean that abuse is not taking place. So no, the allegations regarding Yeshivah are not from ‘some 15 to 20 years ago’ and not all of the allegations ‘are being dealt with by the courts’.
• ‘Allegations have also been made in connection with at least two other Jewish organisations.’ The important words here are ‘at least’. Peter is obviously referring to Yeshivah, Adass and the most recent revelation (a major Jewish institution). But I can assure you that the allegations go well beyond that. There have been reports coming from other capital cities within Australia. Indeed, there is another very credible report from another Melbourne institution, which I’ll hopefully be in a position to divulge shortly.
• ‘In the latest allegations, neither the alleged perpetrator nor many of the alleged victims are Jewish.’ This is not entirely accurate. Yes, the perpetrator is not Jewish, but only two of the victims are not Jewish – this could hardly be classified as ‘many’. Also, importantly, the serious allegations are not only regarding the abuse itself, but of the alleged cover-up by this institution, and its alleged mistreatment of the victims. As you can appreciate, I cannot share all of the very credible (and sensitive) information that I have but let me assure you, it paints a very grim picture of the behaviour of this institution’s leadership.
• So despite the fact that the ECAJ or others within our community may not like it, this is very clearly a ‘Jewish community’ issue. It is indeed very accurate to say that the Jewish community is embroiled in a child sexual abuse scandal. It is not one organisation, nor two or three – it is several that we already know of and probably others that we don’t yet know of. And it’s not just the abuse but also cover-ups.
• ‘Unlike, for example, the Catholic Church, the Jewish community is not a single organisation and cannot act as such.’ What chutzpah (and hypocrisy)! The ECAJ refers to itself as the voice of the Australian Jewish community – apparently it represents all of us, at least that’s what it claims. Yet now that it doesn’t suit the ECAJ to refer to the Jewish community as a single entity, under its jurisdiction....how dare anyone perceive/describe us as a single entity like the Catholic Church?!
• ‘As for the claim that communal organisations have done nothing about this issue’ – no one has made such a claim, not the journalist nor me. This is what was written: ‘Mr Waks said Jewish communal groups such as the Executive Council of Australian Jewry had not made tackling child sexual abuse a high-enough priority.’ That is 100% accurate. Disseminating a couple of media releases over the period of around one and a half years is simply not good enough – by anyone’s standard. Yes, there was also a meeting or two. Should we compare that with the resources expended on, say, Israel-related issues? This was my point. It’s not a high enough priority for the ECAJ. And Peter is disappointed that Barney didn’t mention anything about these media releases. For the ECAJ’s sake it’s probably better that he didn’t!
• Good on the ECAJ for making a submission to the Royal Commission.
• ‘The alleged Israel-obsession is also nonsense. There is no domestic issue affecting the Jewish community which we have not dealt with.’ The first sentence is subjective. I and many others claim that the ECAJ (and the other peak bodies) are obsessed about Israel-related issues. Unsurprisingly, the ECAJ doesn’t quite see it that way. Fair enough. But again, let’s have a look at the resources expended on Israel-related issue when compared to domestic issues. It’s quite clear that Israel consumes most of their resources. Regarding the second sentence, I nor anyone else has said that the ECAJ hasn’t addressed a domestic issue. Again, it’s simply about the priories and resource allocation.
As you can see, the ECAJ’s response to this article is riddled with many inaccuracies at best.
I don’t have an adequate response as to why the ECAJ is responding to this crisis in the way they are. There may be a number of reasons for this - it could be the desire to keep things that may reflect poorly on our community out of the public’s eye. It may also be due to the lack of knowledge and experience in responding to this issue. Child sexual abuse has been a taboo topic for a long time. It is now finally being discussed everywhere. But many people, including the community leadership, simply don’t know how to address it.
It’s not too late. The ECAJ and others can change their attitude and actions and start to work on this issue for the benefit of the community and the victims.
The reality is the official or mainstream Jewish community really doesn't care about anything but money and "continuity," which in the end is also about money.
Who would distribute a few hundred free hallahs a few days after a massive hurricane to thousands of suffering survivors who had many unmet needs – like food, water, shelter, medicine, soap, clothes, and medical care – and think that response is appropriate? The largest Jewish federation, communal social welfare organization, in the world.
Who has ignored the suffering of hundreds of Jewish runaways and street kids, many of whom fled abusive homes? The largest Jewish federation, communal social welfare organization, in the world.
Who would wait more than five days before calling an emergency board meeting to release funds to help those hurricane victims? The largest Jewish federation, communal social welfare organization, in the world – the Greater New York City Area Jewish Federation.
Kids are raped in Williamsburge or Crown Heights? Where's the Federation? Nowhere to be found.
Australia is no different.
Federation leaders and Jewish Community Council leaders and Abe Foxman and Marvin Hier often confuse issuing a press release with taking real, tangible action.
In the case of the ECAJ, that is part of the problem.
But the other part is the desire to hide the child sex abuse, to ignore it, to wish it away so the goyyim don't see it.
The actual victims – the kids, the abused women, the poor – they're not important. Their suffering is not important.
It is a shanda, to be sure, but not for the goyyim – it is a shanda for Judaism.
Update 11:14 pm CST – The following message was sent to Manny Waks, the lead victim in the Chabad child sexual abuse scandal in Melbourne, by a person he describes as “involved with the most recent case to have been exposed in the Jewish community.”
[That case involves alleged child sexual abuse that took place in an Australian Jewish sports organization that is not yet named due to a court suppression order. Some or all of the sexual abuse allegedly took place while the kids were on a group trip to the US.]
Manny adds that “[u]nderstandably, this person cannot be identified at this stage. [The message] speaks for itself (and I can assure it reflects the views of all the victims I've been in contact with)”:
Dear Peter Wertheim (Executive Director of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry),
I refer to your ‘salacious, misleading and deceptive’ comments regarding the latest child sexual abuse allegations to emerge. Some within the Jewish community, and certainly the organisation in question here, may deny responsibility and choose not to be involved. But the community is nevertheless ‘embroiled’. Dismissing these allegations serves only to perpetuate the distress and angst for those affected. Efforts should better be directed towards supporting those involved in these matters and encouraging community organisations to protect the children in their care.
Regarding the latest allegations, as Manny has expressed, the majority of the victims are Jewish, and the offences occurred within a prominent Jewish organisation. The perpetrator is not Jewish, but the leaders of the organisation who had a duty of care to the children at the time of the offences are. As long as the organisation maintains their stance on this issue, they simultaneously take no action to ensure that these acts cannot be repeated. As such, every child who is a member of this large community organisation continues to be at risk, and every parent who sends their child trustingly to participate within this organisation should be concerned.