A Different View on Israel

Malka Leifer: A Moral Blot on Israel

Yesterday, one of the most embarrassing episodes in Israeli politics and Justice, moved an important step closer to resolution when the District Court in Jerusalem ruled that Malka Leifer, the accused Australian-Israeli pedophile may be extradited to Australia to stand trial for 74 charges of sexual abuse.

While the outcome of this horror story is apparently going to be positive (The Supreme Court most likely will still need to hear an appeal against the District Court ruling), the shame that this case has brought upon Israel as a Nation, will not be erased easily, in particular because it is apparently still requiring the continued investigation of the behavior and actions of Israeli officials dealing with this matter.

The case, as far as Israel is concerned at least, started in 2008 when Malka Leifer arrived in Israel from Australia and settled in the ultra-orthodox settlement Emmanuel, which is in the Occupied Territories.

She had left Australia in an extremely hurried and suspicious manner, when it became clear to the Board of the school she was the Head-Mistress of, that sexual abuse had been perpetrated by her for years. (The school is an Ultra-Orthodox school for girls). She left before the indictments against her were filed and before the police could issue a warrant for her arrest (The Australian police is currently investigating the role of the school board and the Ultra-Orthodox community in her “escape” from Australia).

The extradition procedures, which were started in 2012 at the request of Australia have been dragged out and dropped several times as a result of claims of mental illness by the accused, which needed to be re-examined and refuted in order for the case to proceed. It was halted in 2016 because the courts accepted Leifer’s claims of mental instability and ruled her unfit to be extradited. The case was reopened in 2018, because investigations by a private organization revealed that Leifer was leading a normal life without any signs of mental illness. Leifer was again arrested and even though the procedures were again marred by delaying tactics and undue political pressure, the end result as it came in yesterday, will allow for justice to take its course (in Australia).

There are two issues that still require investigation and clarification. The most urgent one being of course what role politicians and in particular Deputy Minister of Health (at the time) Litzman played in this affair, and to what extend he used threats against his people in the ministry, to produce the “right” psychiatric reports and evaluations of Malka Leifer. The police have been looking into this extensively, and have recommended that Litzman be charged with witness tampering, fraud and breach of trust, but no indictment has been issued (which depends on the prosecutor). Is this ever going to happen? Litzman has in numerous occasions (allegedly) abused his powers as Deputy Health Minister, to demand and obtain favors for various people in his surroundings but this case appears to go way beyond “helping a friend” and appears to be definitely in the criminal realm and demands the attention of the Israeli legal system.

The second issue that raises any questions is the source of the money that has been financing this dragged out legal battle. Leifer does not have the means to pay lawyers for such an extended period of time and such a large number of court hearings, and it may be assumed that her lawyers (being lawyers) do not work for free. When asked about this, one of these lawyers claimed that the sums were not very big and that the community (i.e. Emmanuel) chipped in. Of course Leifer, like anyone else, deserves that justice is done, and helping a poor woman to obtain that justice seems an honorable endeavor. However, all the actions of Leifer and her lawyers were aimed at preventing that Justice is done (to the victims of Leifer’s alleged abuse) and it is deplorable that the Ultra-Orthodox community of Emmanuel so fit to help Leifer (but then again, they may also have been forced to do so by Litzman and other leaders of the Ger sect of which both Litzman and Leifer are members).

While the extradition appears (almost) final and the victims of Leifer will be able to see her in court in Australia, the damage done to relations between Australia and Israel, and between the Australian Jewish community and Israel, will take much longer to repair. And for what? To protect a Jewish woman from the anti-Semites in Australia? The victims of Leifer’s (alleged) abuse were innocent JEWISH girls from an Ultra-Orthodox community in Melbourne!

  I hope you found this article interesting and I welcome any comments you may have.

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