Saturday, April 15, 2006

When I read about the case of the ultra-orthodox teenager who is accused of abusing and killing his three-month-old son, I wondered what the mother of the baby had to say, and why the haredi community is so desperately defending this man who is allegedly a child-abuser. I almost started to believe their claims that this is a blood libel, and that the police are trying to frame an innocent Thorah-student. Then I found this website, of the Awareness Center ( The Jewish Coalition Against Sexual Abuse/Assault ), based in Maryland. There I read a very clarifying analysis, written by Anshel Pheffer in the Jerusalem Post, a newspaper that is not known for its leftwing, anti-religious bias. The article deals with domestic ( and sexual ) abuse within the part of the ultra-orthodox community to which Yisrael Valis/Vales belongs. What Anshel Pheffer writes makes a lot of sense, and I would be surprised if the defenders of Mr Vales will turn out to have been right all along. PS: Some members of the haredi community have started to change their tunes. Still, it seems that the wellbeing and honor of the father - who even according to his staunchest defenders appears to be guilty of at least "carelessness or negligence" - are much more important than the life of the poor baby. Look what one of the leading legal authorities who visited Yisrael Vales in prison said about the biting signs on the infant's body: "The bite wasn't something that endangered the child.". Busha we hirpa, as we say in Hebrew. If this isn't Hilul HaShem, what is?

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