Letters from the Editor November 28, 2022: Reporting sexual abuse

Readers of The Jerusalem Post have their say.

 Letters (photo credit: PIXABAY)
(photo credit: PIXABAY)

Reporting sexual abuse

Altea Steinherz (“Rampant child sexual abuse,” November 22) draws attention to a serious problem. However, contrary to what she writes, the obligation to report on suspected crimes against children and the disabled is not restricted to teachers and therapists.

By a Law of 1989, all persons are required to report, and failure to report carries a prison sentence. Each local authority has a designated social worker to whom suspicions must be reported.

There is no need for “a second victim.” The report of abuse by a child requires additional evidence of some kind in order to allow a conviction, but this can come from any other reliable source.

Allegations of child psychological maltreatment by a parent, including parental alienation, need to be fully investigated, no less that allegations of physical or sexual abuse. There is no basis to say that cases are automatically labeled as alienation.

In Israel, a complaint about an offense of sexual abuse against a child can be filed within ten years after the child reaches adulthood, regardless of the age of the complainant at the time of the alleged offense, that is, until the age of 28. When the alleged abuser is a family member, the age is 38.


Judge (retired) of the Jerusalem Family Court


Negative effects

Lahav Harkov’s thought-provoking article, “New government poses a public diplomacy challenge even before being sworn in” (November 25), indicates several very concerning reasons why Israel’s incoming government, the most right-wing, religious ever, is likely to negatively affect Israel diplomatically.

Despite warnings from prominent members of the US Congress, including Senator Bob Menendez, one of Israel’s strongest supporters, and some world leaders, including the UAE foreign minister, presumptive prime minister Netanyahu is about to appoint extremists to his cabinet. This has caused public diplomacy experts and some strong Israeli advocates to sound an alarm about the dangers of an extreme rightest government.

Among the controversial steps the new government may take that  would likely spark controversy with US and European governments are expanding and legalizing settlements, cracking down on Israeli Arabs, and passing legislation that would weaken the judiciary. Such steps would weaken our claim to be the only democracy in the Middle East.

Likely steps to reduce the separation of religion and state will further alienate the majority of Diaspora Jews, who will feel more strongly that Israel does not share their values. Another negative factor is that the incoming government will have no centrist party, very few moderates, very little diversity, and less than ten women Knesset members.

Finally, as the article points out, there has already been negative effects on college campuses, with Jewish students having a harder time defending against verbal attacks against Israel. In view of the above, it is urgent that Israelis defend democratic and Jewish prophetic values.



Potentially life-threatening

Regarding “Giving birth is a basic human right: Why is it often violated?” (November 27): The best answer is to lower the number of expectant mothers a midwife takes care of in the hospital, and/or to subsidize doulas.

  • Have “birth advocates” or ombudswomen at every hospital birthing center, paid by anyone except the hospital, so they are independent, who report to someone high enough in the chain of command able and willing to take corrective measures.
  • Have in-service training to correct the problems.
  • Have all this spearheaded by an organization funded by all the HMOs.

I have a then-twenties-something cousin who hemorrhaged while giving birth in a hospital. She is alive and well because she was in a hospital and therefore two minutes away from an operating room. Giving birth outside a hospital is potentially life-threatening, no matter how attractive it sounds.



Amorous sentiment

Articles printed on the first page of The Jerusalem Post edition of November 25, (“Smotrich receives crash course in Machiavellian politics – from Netanyahu” by Eliav Breuer), the last page (Editor’s Notes: “Making a government is not so easy” by Yaakov Katz), and some on pages in between all alluded to, if not directly mentioned, concerns regarding how the personnel lineup in the next government might affect Israel’s diplomatic relationships with other countries in general and the United States in particular.

This fits in with the weekly Torah portion Toldot which was read in synagogues worldwide this past Shabbat. I, for one, recognized the similarities between how King Abimelech, who previously had sided with Abraham, went sour on Isaac back then, and today’s fears by some of the United States turning on Israel.

Centuries of wanderings throughout the world have conditioned the Jewish people to give high regard to how our host nations view us. To be sure, issues of personal safety have warranted such attention.

So yes, the next Israeli government must not ignore its relationships with the governments of other nations. But now that we once again have our own country, perhaps it is time to stop apologizing to the world for our very existence and to prioritize our own best interests above the perceived “need” to bring out amorous sentiment toward us from the nations of the world.


Petah Tikva

The newly democratically-elected government in Israel has yet to be formed, and not a day goes by without reading all about how the sky is falling because of the results.

Most of the columns talk about reaction from Jews and non-Jews abroad who are not happy with the election results. Of course the world leaders and governments are not happy with the results. They were just getting used to the appeasing fools who slapped together the worst government in Israel’s history. As for upsetting the progressive Jewish world, they drifted away from Zionism long ago.

Thank God we have Reform, Conservative, Orthodox and many other groups supporting Israel because they know and respect our place in the world. The Jewish nation need not appease its enemies or allies anymore.



Ever-spiking toll

Could there be any Palestinian leadership failures too egregious for Gershon Baskin not to find some fault for Israel in them (“The collision course,” November 24)? It’s not Israel that has “refused to negotiate.” In 2014, the Palestinians wasted nine-and-a-half months of a 10-month Israeli settlement freeze, before coming to the table, then abruptly left, and have since vowed never to return.

In any event, what’s the point of negotiating with such a “declining” leadership, that has “lost touch” with its people? Even correctly calling Mahmoud Abbas a “supporter of terrorism” earns Baskin’s scorn. If only to save his own head, though repeatedly threatening to sever that arrangement, Abbas has continued PA-Israel West Bank security cooperation. 

He, far more successfully, simultaneously incites his population to violence against Israelis. Thus, there are IDF “violations against the PA in Palestinian cities.” The only alternative to such Israeli military activity would be an ever-spiking toll of innocent Israeli civilian casualties.

One can sympathize with young Palestinians wanting to live as a “free people.” Would that, though, be their fate, given current corrupt, kleptocratic, despotic leadership, in any emerging Palestinian state? As always, they would be collateral damage in deadly Fatah-Hamas rivalry.

The only hope for them, and the region, is the emergence of new Palestinian leaders with radically different perspectives, rejecting the century-old refusal to accept the legitimacy of any Jewish sovereignty in the historic homeland of the Jews. It’s likely to be a very long wait.


Syracuse, New York

Transcendent or imminent?

Joel Cohen (“Do we believe in God, or the idea?” November 23) begins his “more intellectual or philosophical” exploration of belief in God by asking, “What does my believing in God really mean to me?”

This is to put the issue of “belief in God” on a purely personal, subjective basis. Even so, how could anyone give an answer without clarifying one’s concept  (idea) of God? Is God for you a force or a personality, transcendent or imminent? Is God cognizant of man? Is God knowable by man?

According to the rules of grammar and logic, one who states: “I believe in God” is making two assertions. First, that God (how so ever understood) exists in some sense. Secondly, that I have trust in Him.

Any discussion about God, to be intelligible, must start with one’s concept (idea) of God. Next is the question does this “God” exist and in what sense? Only then can one significantly ask, what is the nature of my belief in God.

In the biblical tradition, one’s relationship to God should indeed be an overwhelming, passionate one consisting of both love and fear which merge into sublime awe and reverence. This can be achieved, according to Maimonides, by discovering His signature in the Torah, nature and the story of Israel.



Simple expression of gratitude

Whereas Tuly Weisz presents some legitimate concerns about the antisemitism expressed recently by Kanye West and others (“Replacement roots of Thanksgiving,” November 24), citing them as examples of “replacement theory” wherein blacks are the new Jews, I think it is a bit of a stretch to attribute the same ideas to the American founders in Plymouth, Massachusetts.

The Puritans or Pilgrims, as they were called in the New World, were Calvinists, driven out  of Europe because of their particular form of Protestantism. The first Thanksgiving, far from being a sinister plot against the Jews, who had scarcely landed on these shores, was a simple expression of gratitude on having survived the winter in an inhospitable climate. It more resembles Sukkot than a dark ritual.

While there were few Jews or blacks, for that matter, in the early New England colonies, we should note that the concept of religious freedom for all was put into effect at that time in Rhode Island by Roger Williams

As far as Peter Stuyvesant attempting to exclude Jews from the then Dutch colony of New York, he was almost immediately overridden by the Dutch East India Company, and he himself was ousted from power shortly hereafter when New York was overtaken by the British.

Furthermore in Jamestown, Virginia and other southern colonies, Jews were settling and thriving there from an early date.

Instead of demonizing a holiday which many Jews, with the endorsement of such rabbinic luminaries as Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, do celebrate in some fashion, we should recognize the blessing for the Jews over the last centuries in having a democratic nation where they found a safe haven and in which they have been able to thrive in freedom to this day,


Beit Shemesh

Failure is the norm

Regarding “Radical social justice ideology” (November 1): Jews shouldn’t be surprised that “social justice” ideology is antisemitic because it is deeply rooted in beliefs that have always led to antisemitism. That ideology shares, with others that espouse(d) antisemitic beliefs, the idea that group membership takes precedence over all other considerations. 

Pagans, Christians, Muslims, Marxists and Nazis all held this belief at one time or another, the first three on religious grounds, the fourth on class, and the last on ethnicity.

“Social justice” posits that success or failure in life is determined by group membership, rather than what an individual does and the values which lead to his/her behavior. Black authors, like Ibram X. Kendi, make this explicit, refuting the idea that black behavior has contributed to the black community’s predicament.

Kendi reflects a long-standing black obsession with skin color: “If you’re light, you’re alright. If you’re brown, stick around. If you’re black, get back.” This ditty is part of black, not white, culture.

To make matters worse, Identitarianism, the quasi-religion behind the “social justice” movement, worships failure; only groups where failure is the norm are allowed to belong. An ideology that regards failure as a virtue cannot, and will not, help its members succeed, so they reject values like personal responsibility, rationality, punctuality, and politeness which characterize the civilization produced by the Enlightenment, which began in a white Europe.

As a (usually small) minority where they have lived throughout the ages, Jewish survival has depended on what Jews did, and Jewish culture evolved to encourage that behavior. It is no coincidence that the Jewish religion is based on mitzvot about individual behavior, or that other successful groups in America, like Asians, share beliefs that encourage individual performance. In free societies, where what one does usually determines one’s fate, these values served Jews rather well, producing disproportionate success in places like America.

Jewish success sends a message to Identitarians and the “social justice” community that their ideology is fundamentally flawed. Adopting antisemitic attitudes is easier, and less self-damning, than admitting that they have made the situation worse for the groups whose interests they claim to espouse.


Framingham, Massachusetts