Former cabinet minister Michael Melchior attacked former MK Haim Druckman on Tuesday for defending Rabbi Mordechai Elon, a recently convicted sex offender, and inviting him to his yeshiva.
Writing on his Facebook page, Melchior, like Druckman a rabbi, recalled that he refused to join a long list of prominent people who congratulated Druckman when he won the Israel Prize. Melchior said that when he was told he was the only one who had refused, he responded that he could not back anyone who covered for or protected someone who harmed youth.
“I was not at all surprised to read that Rabbi Druckman continues to invite Rabbi Elon to teach young men in his yeshiva in Or Etzion, even after his conviction in court,” Melchior wrote in both English and Hebrew.
Melchior praised the Takana Forum of prominent religious Zionist figures, which fights sexual abuse in the National Religious sector, for the way it handled the allegations against Elon. He said he wished the ruling of the forum and the court was respected by Druckman and others who continue to back Elon.
“I wonder, what more needs to happen before Religious Zionism, Bnei Akiva yeshivas and yeshivot hesder will no longer consider this person [Druckman] suitable to lead them,” Melchior wrote. “Is it possible to enter the month of mercy and forgiveness, and the Days of Awe and claim to The Almighty that we have done all that we must do in order to set an example for, and to protect our children? Is it not said that in a place where God’s name is being desecrated, we do not give respect to Rabbis? In this instance, when a Rabbi is an icon, I ask what could be a bigger desecration of God’s name than to pay tribute to a man that has turned a blind-eye to harm done to innocent children?” Elon was convicted on two counts of indecent assault by force against a minor by the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court two weeks ago. He could serve up to seven years in prison.
The rabbi was one of the predominant figures in the national-religious world before allegations of misconduct arose. He was dean of the renowned Yeshivat Hakotel.
His Torah lessons were broadcast on national radio, he had a television slot, and he enjoyed a large and devoted public following.
Druckman was an MK with the National Religious Party and currently heads the Center for Bnai Akiva yeshivot.
Melchior was a minister and MK for the liberal religious- Zionist party Meimad when it ran with One Israel and Labor. The rabbi of Jerusalem’s Beit Boyer synagogue, he is a leading advocate for social justice in Israel, education for all, Jewish-Arab reconciliation, protection of the environment and Israel- Diaspora relations.
Druckman did not issue a response to Melchior by press time.
Melchior’s post received many positive and some negative responses. While Yehuda Fisher pronounced Elon “clean as snow,” Nosson Mandel wrote: “Parents need to not send their kids to Or Etzion” and “Students in the yeshiva need to protest.”