December 23: Elon’s sentence

The relatively lenient sentence – community service with no jail time – is unlikely to deter others with similar predilections.

Letters 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/Handout )
Letters 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/Handout )
Elon’s sentence
Sir, – Regarding “The Elon lesson” (Editorial, December 22), when determining appropriate criminal sentences, courts must take into account punishment for harm caused, prevention of repeat offenses by the same person, deterring others from committing similar crimes, and reinforcement of societal norms against intolerable conduct. If the conviction of Rabbi Mordechai Elon was correct, then his sentence fails on all of these.
One doubts whether Elon will be sufficiently punished for actions that may well negatively impact his victims for years to come. Certainly, there is no guarantee that he will not commit them again. An evaluation presented in court concluded that he was a “low-to-medium risk to society.”
Why must we accept a “medium risk” that other children might be assaulted? The relatively lenient sentence – community service with no jail time – is unlikely to deter others with similar predilections.
Instead, it demonstrates that the court (and, by extension, society) does not view this as a serious crime.
Elon’s role as a religious leader only exacerbated the crime.
Charges involving a second minor were dropped because the victim refused to testify. This suggests the possibility that the victim might have been subjected to outside pressure.
Until we are willing to punish wrong-doers adequately, no matter what their status, many more crimes of this type will be committed, and defenseless victims will be afraid to come forward.
Zichron Ya’acov
Sir, – For years I remarked that Israel was unique because a charismatic rabbi like Mordechai Elon, who hugs and kisses tens of thousands of men, would have a short rabbinic existence in the United States. The odds would have a few of those individuals complain about such actions. The truth is, such a reaction was inevitable even in Israel.
Nevertheless, having known Rabbi Elon for 25 years I can attest to the fact that he was an exceptional high school teacher and principal, and used his charisma to the benefit of thousands of young men and their families.
Having said that, I also believe that the court had more information available to it than any of us were privy to. If it decided that community service rather than hard time would be his punishment, then obviously the judges realized that such service would entail (supervised) teaching.
All the articles and all the politicians protesting the verdict will not (and should not) change the sound judgment of the court.
The question becomes how much of a cause celebre they will create out of this “lesson.”
Sir, – Rabbi Mordechai Elon said he “happily” accepted the sentence of community service after being convicted on two counts of indecent assault by force against a minor (“Convicted Rabbi Elon sentenced to community service instead of prison,” December 19).
Elon abhors homosexuality yet he was convicted of homosexual acts. He violated a basic principle articulated by our sage Hillel: “What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor.”
It seems he uses a unique Torah to guide him. I pray he embraces the one from God.
JUDY BAMBERGER O’Connor, Australia
Doing the math
Sir, – In “State, Abutbul, Cohen file final pleadings on Beit Shemesh election fraud claims ahead of court decision” (December 19), two statements do not add up. The first is that “Abutbul won the race by a razor-thin margin of 956 votes.”
The second is that the “number of votes for altering the mayoral election... was already established at 956.”
If the difference in the voting outcome was 956, then the number needed to alter the result is only 479 votes, or half the difference plus one. It’s a much lower number and easier to prove.
Off the map
Sir, – Regarding “Israel renews flights to Turkey” (Business & Finance, December 19), I flew Turkish Airlines last year from South Africa to Tel Aviv and noted on the airline’s flight map that Israel does not appear. It shows Gaza and then Damascus.
I emailed the company twice in this regard but have had no reply.
I flew Turkish for the price but have gone back to flying El Al, as I refuse to fly with an airline where Israel does not exist on a flight map.
BEBE FELDMAN Netanya Probing preparedness Sir, – Forget the probe (“Lawmakers begin probe of way gov’t responded to snowstorm,” December 18). It will provide politicians and the media with a great opportunity to indulge in Bibi-bashing and anti-government rhetoric. Yet storm preparedness is not the most pressing problem on the national agenda.
The magnitude of the storm that hit Israel was way off the charts. Nothing similar had been experienced for over a century.
Given the state of preparedness, the authorities responded in full force, and functioning was restored for the majority of the population. The loss of life was tragic, but given the circumstances it was kept to a minimum due to the tireless efforts of rescue workers. The population also exhibited amazing fortitude.
Nobody asked for this to happen, but it did, and instead of an expensive national postmortem, the various authorities should examine their own actions and seek solutions to rectify the shortcomings. Furthermore, home owners should have alternative energy sources available in case of need.
Although we cannot predict when the next mega-storm will hit, we can predict when the next fatal road accident will occur. It will be today. And if not, then tomorrow or the day after. This is because driving in Israel is akin to an extreme sport.
The problem is confounded by an abysmal lack of supervision on the roads and the attendant leniency of the courts insofar as penalties are concerned.
Not only is there an exorbitant amount of deaths, but injuries put further stress on an overburdened health care system.
In my opinion, it is incumbent upon the government to prioritize catastrophe spending and target areas where prevention is possible.
LINDA WOLFF Sha’arei Tikva Sir, – The Jerusalem Municipality should send some of its officials to New York to learn how they deal with snow so capably.
It should also invite New York officials to get some advice on how to better deal with it here.
Notwithstanding that snow storms like this don’t come along often enough for us to spend and fully gear up like they do in the US and Europe, we could certainly do better. A few pointers from the pros couldn’t hurt.
SAUL LEVY Jerusalem Serving his country Sir, – In the course of over three decades in which I have served as a volunteer with the Israel Police’s Traffic Division, I have had my share of memorable moments, some satisfying and others tragic. However, I wish to share with your readership a most rewarding moment that, to my mind, exemplifies the unique spirit of our wonderful youth who serve in the IDF.
Assigned recently to keep the intersection of Jerusalem’s Jaffa Road and Nordau Street free of gridlock caused by uncaring and undisciplined drivers, I happened to notice a young soldier, obviously heading home for Shabbat from a combat unit. He was dressed in short sleeves and walking apace despite his burden of a knapsack and other gear, in addition to his assault rifle slung over a shoulder.
Suddenly, while crossing the intersection, he switched direction and approached me and offered to bring me a cup of hot coffee. What can one say other than toda raba and kol hakavod! JOEL KUTNER Jerusalem