Monday, October 25, 2021

Rabbi Yakov Horowitz Defeats a Pedophile

Rabbi Yakov Horowitz outside the Knesset (Arutz Sheva)
First I would like to congratulate Rabbi Yakov Horowitz for his impressive win.  And to congratulate the Israeli judicial system for dismissing a libel lawsuit filed against him by a convicted pedophile. It is a great victory for parents. 

This got me to wondering about something that has troubled me for quite some time. Which is how survivor advocates have treated a man they should be celebrating. If there is anyone that has done more for the prevention of child sex abuse than Yakov Horowitz, I’d like to know who that is and what he or she did. Talk is cheap. Rabbi Horowitz put his money (and a great deal of his personal time) where his mouth is. 

5 years ago, convicted sex offender Yona Weinberg, who had moved to Israel and settled in Har Nof , a heavily Orthodox section of Jerusalem - sued Rabbi Horowitz for libel. Weinberg had hoped that by moving to Israel he could escape being labeled a sex offender. But Rabbi Horowitz would not have any of that. He made sure that people in that neighborhood would be forewarned about Weinberg and exposed him for the pedophile he is. And that he should be treated “like a terrorist with a machete.” 

The lawsuit was for 200,000 NIS (($62,212.66) in damages. 5 days ago the court ruled that Rabbi Horowtiz’s warning was not only appropriate but that comparing him to a ‘terrorist with a machete’ was appropriate too. 

This is not the only time Rabbi Horowitz has stood up for justice for survivors. He has spent many years doing exactly that as well as publishing and distributing materials that provided instruction to Orthodox parents about how to protect their children from being sexually abused.

In the rather famous trial of sex offender, Nechmaya Webberman, he stood by Webberman’s no longer observant accuser. For which he was strongly criticized  by prominent Charedi journalists who believed that Webberman was innocent and that his accuser was lying.  But Rabbi Horowitz stood his ground. He did not compromise his ideals no matter who pressured him. Webberman was found guilty and sentenced to 150 years in prison. 

Survivor advocacy groups owe him a great debt of gratitude for everything he’s done. and they should have surely congratulated him here for this victory. But I haven’t seen or heard any such expression. If I’m wrong, I will be happy to be corrected. 

If as I suspect they haven’t it’s because they don’t like a position he took on one of their pet projects. Without getting into details he opposed legislation designed to benefit survivors. It didn’t matter to them that his opposition was principled. All they saw as a traitor to the cause. They then characterized all of his past efforts on behalf of survivors and on abuse prevention as self serving aggrandizement.

This is not to say I agreed with his decision on this matter. But I know he is a man of principle.  And I also know how much he has done for prevention of sex abuse and in seeking justice for survivors. 

I realize that the survivor community suffers. I know there is a high rate of depression, and even suicide. I know that going OTD after being sexually abused is common. I know that survivors of sex abuse need all the support they can get. And I also know that this is what motives survivor advocates. 

But at the same time if they cannot countenance any disagreement with their goals no matter how principled, then they are doing actual harm to their cause. It undermines their credibility - making them seem unreasonable and intransigent (As it turns out the issue under dispute went their way, anyway.)

What Rabbi Horowitz has gone through over the past 5 years should put any doubt about his true motives to bed. He is a righteous man. Survivor advocates should recognize this. And offer an apology (if they haven’t yet) for having ever cast any aspersions on his motives or his character. He should instead be treated like the hero he is and cast as an example for all of us to follow. 

After that apology, I would love to see a public statement by any survivor advocacy group congratulating Rabbi Horowitz for his win – which was also a win for parents in Har Nof who are now well informed and forwarned about this pedophile. It is also a win for any parent in the future that may encounter similar circumstances. 

That is the right thing to do. And if they didn’t do it yet, I hope they do it soon.