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Druckman: No reason Elon should not teach in yeshiva
By JEREMY SHARON
23/12/2013
Senior national-religious leader says he believes rabbi's conviction for sex crimes against a minor was a mistake.
 
Senior national-religious leader Rabbi Haim Druckman publicly defended Rabbi Moti Elon on Sunday, saying there is no reason for him not to teach at his yeshiva despite his conviction and sentencing for indecent assault by force on a minor.

On Thursday, MK and former Labor leader Shelly Yacimovich wrote to Education Minister Shai Piron and Internal Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch asking them to prevent Elon giving such lessons in accordance with the law which stipulates that someone convicted of sexual crimes not be allowed to work in an institute where minors are present.

Speaking in a radio interview with Arutz Sheva on Sunday, Druckman said he believed Elon’s conviction was a mistake, that he “fully believed the rabbi,” and that he could continue to give lessons at the Or Etzion yeshiva where Druckman serves as Dean.

“I don’t believe there is anything in his Torah lessons that is not kosher, there is no reason not to learn from him or listen to Torah lessons from him,” the rabbi said.

Druckman, an Israel Prize laureate, said that he believed the court was mistaken in convicting Elon and that there were no witnesses to the incidents in question other than the rabbi and the plaintiff.

“At the end of the day, we’re talking about an incident in which two people were in the room, Rabbi Elon and the complainant. There was no one in the room apart from them,” he said. “This person claims one thing, which the other denies. There’s no other testimony [on this incident]. Who says the claim is true? No one knows what happened in the room and no one can know. This is why I saw the ruling as a mistake.”

Druckman continued saying that “he [Elon] is a warm person who hugs people and for sure people who have problems, he brings them close. Maybe people will say this is ok or not ok, but it is nothing more than this.”

Elon has always denied the allegations and he and his supporters have argued that he was accustomed to giving warm hugs to many of his students, which, they claim, were misinterpreted in the incidents for which he was convicted.

Although there were originally two plaintiffs against Elon, one of them subsequently decided not to testify and his complaint was withdrawn from the accusations against the rabbi.

As Druckman noted, Elon was convicted by the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court on the basis of the claims of the sole remaining plaintiff, known as Aleph, but additional testimony was brought by other individuals to verify Aleph’s claims, although they did not themselves submit complaints against Elon to the court.

A separate witness, referred to as “Shin,” gave testimony of an incident similar to that of Aleph, between himself or herself and Elon, and a third witness referred to as “Mem” said that he or she had witnessed an incident of an “intimate” nature between the rabbi and a yeshiva student.

The testimony of Shin and Mem was not made available to the press because of the nature of the allegations. In the judgement, Judge Hagit Mak-Kalmanovitz wrote that she believed Aleph to be a credible witness, and that Shin and Mem also gave reliable testimony.

She wrote in the judgement that “the possibility that three people created a criminal connection between themselves to falsely libel the accused is not in anyway believable.”
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