The ruling to extradite Malka Leifer takes us one step closer to justice

Leifer is expected to appeal to the Supreme Court. If that fails, she will finally be on her way to Australia.

Malka Leifer, An Ultra orthodox teacher wanted in Australia for child sex abuse, seen on a screen via a video link during a court hearing at the Supreme Court in Jerusalem on July 29, 2020. (photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)
Malka Leifer, An Ultra orthodox teacher wanted in Australia for child sex abuse, seen on a screen via a video link during a court hearing at the Supreme Court in Jerusalem on July 29, 2020.
(photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)
The decision by the Jerusalem District Court on Monday to extradite suspected sex criminal Malka Leifer was a welcome example of justice being served. The court ruled to extradite Leifer to Australia, where she is wanted on 74 charges of sexual abuse and rape of minors.
The ruling was a major milestone in a case that has been beset by political interference and highly unusual legal claims about mental competence, succeeding in delaying the extradition for six years, far too long.
It comes after the court ruled earlier this year that Leifer was mentally fit to stand trial, a claim she had argued that managed to throw a wrench in the wheels of justice.
Next steps include Justice Minister Avi Nissenkorn signing an extradition order, as well as Leifer’s expected appeal to the Supreme Court, a privilege most people slated for extradition use.
If the court rejects the appeal, Leifer will finally be on her way to stand trial in Australia.
For too long, this case has been a stain on Israel. The wheels of justice moved too slow and strained Israel’s ties with Australia, one of the Jewish state’s closest and friendliest of allies.
Three of Leifer’s alleged victims, sisters Dassi Erlich, Nicole Meyer and Elly Sapper, who have waged a long legal and public diplomacy campaign for her extradition, warmly welcomed the decision.
“This is a victory for justice! A victory not just for us, but for all survivors,” they said in a brief statement.
“Exhaling years of holding our breath! Today our hearts are smiling!”
Manny Waks, director of the Kol V’Oz (Voice and Strength) organization for the prevention of child sex abuse, slammed the Israeli judicial process for the time it took to reach an extradition order saying that these failings must be examined.
We completely agree. This case has taken too long, and it is questionable if it would have finally moved forward on Monday had there not been intense media coverage of the case. What needs to be looked at is why the courts let Leifer consistently delay the extradition process with claims of being mentally unfit.
That should have been a decision resolved earlier on in this process. Instead, courts in Jerusalem allowed endless testimony and appeals, which delayed what should have been a simple issue.
While we do not want courts to make decisions without hearing all sides and without going through all of the necessary motions, we also do not want courts to drag their feet. Victims deserve to have their day in court and to obtain justice if a crime is suspected of having been committed.
What Leifer’s case also shows about Israel is that too often Jews from around the world flee here to evade justice in the country where they committed their alleged crimes.
A recent CBS report found there were dozens of cases where wanted criminals who had engaged in sexual abuse fled to Israel.
According to the report, there may be 60 known cases, and that is likely the tip of the iceberg. CBS tracked down some of these alleged offenders, being hid by religious communities in Israel which, in some cases, provide the alleged criminals and abusers with financial assistance.
This needs to come to an end. Even Jews who are allowed into Israel under the Law of Return should not simply be let into the country without first looking into where they are coming from, what they might be running away from and if there is an open investigation anywhere against them.
One of the ways to help this situation would be for Israel to pass legislation in the Knesset that allows for a faster and more efficient extradition process. It is also worth reconsidering granting automatic citizenship to people eligible under the Law of Return without looking into their past and seeing if there is an open investigation against them in their country of origin.
The Jerusalem District Court’s decision is a welcome step in the right direction. It shows that, ultimately, Israel’s justice system works. Now is the time to make sure it works fast and is efficient. Future Malka Leifers cannot be allowed to get away with their crimes.