Mesirah and Child Sexual Abuse in Brooklyn

Taki took time out from recounting what happened at his Christmas party to provide this interesting tidbit:

Speaking of little boys, leave it to The New York Times to find a front-page story unfit to print because it wasn’t anti-Catholic: The Brooklyn DA recently arrested an astounding 85 Jewish Orthodox men on charges of child sex abuse. Back in 1985 a Hasidic “therapist” was indicted for abusing five boys, but police suspected he abused more than a hundred. Avrohom Mondrowitz fled to Israel, where he remains to this day a free man. Those nice guys who shoot rock-throwing Palestinian children refuse to extradite him. Brooklyn DA Charles Hynes now has to tread carefully. Fifty rabbis have signed a public announcement in Yiddish denouncing the Hasidic family who went to the cops. They asked—now get this—for any believer to kill the family that informed “on fellow Jews.” So what will happen to the 85 perverts? All I know is the Times has not published a word, whereas when the Catholic Church sex scandal broke, it led the news in the front page for months. There is something very evil when rabbis who hate the non-Jewish world can dictate to an abused child’s parents whether or not to talk to the mostly non-Jewish fuzz. If some parent were to go and firebomb the Times, we might see it appear on the back pages.

Another egregious example of mesirah (including a death threat), and a nice comment illustrating how the Jewish sensibility of the Times deals with religion—a modern version of mesirah in its refusal to publish anything negative about its favorite religion/ethnic group. And then there’s the point about Israel not extraditing Jewish criminals—another topic the Times would rather avoid.

There is no question that mesirah has its intended effect. Few of the perpetrators will go to prison as a result of community pressure against informing on Jews:

So far, about 38 cases in the Brooklyn D.A.’s Project Kol Tzedek — which the [New York] Post translates as Hebrew for “voice of justice” … — have been closed, with just under two thirds resulting in the perps walking free. Many pleaded to lesser changes, with the Post claiming that some got off mostly scot-free because “victims or their parents backed out under community pressure.” (see here) Read more

Outpourings of Jewish ethical superiority: The Graham Spanier case

Mondoweiss has posted a summary of articles by rabidly pro-Israel rabbis who have waxed indignant about the Penn St. situation, basing their arguments on a rather tendentious reading of Jewish religious ethics. The article by Rabbi Moshe Leib Gray, the head of Chabad at Dartmouth (described by Mondoweiss as promoting Israel “to a faretheewell”) makes it clear that not informing when others are suffering is forbidden by Jewish ethics:

When it comes to saving a life, physically or spiritually, we must to do everything in our power to push aside our natural inclinations, to depart from our comfort zone and to speak harsh words; to do what is right, even when it challenges the will of God Almighty. (Emphasis in text)

This is a strong ethic indeed. Mondoweiss makes that point that these same rabbis manage to look the other way in the face of Palestinian suffering and Israeli ethnic cleansing. Good point.

Beyond that, these high-flown statements of Jewish ethics don’t seem to apply to mesirah–the prohibition against informing on other Jews. Some of the  most egregious examples of mesirah come from Orthodox Jewish communities like Rabbi Gray’s Chabade.g., this blog by John Graham which describes mesirah advocated by Agudath Israel in the case of reporting child abuse allegations within the Jewish community. Read more