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MK Lavie: a Sad, Meaningful Day for Religious Zionism

'It is now clear that the phenomoenon of sexual harassment exists in the religious sector, just like anywhere else.'
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 12/18/2013, 11:50 AM

MK Aliza Lavie
MK Aliza Lavie
Israel news photo: Flash 90

MK Aliza Lavie (Yesh Atid), who heads the Knesset's Committee for Advancement of the Status of Women, reacted Wednesday to the sentencing of Rabbi Moti Elon to six months' community service for sexual harassment of a student.

"The fact that the punishment was light does not mean that there is anything wrong" with the law against sexual harassment, she said, noting that some communities have cultural mores that make it difficult for the victims to complain.

"Most of the State Prosecution's files concerning sexual harassment wind up being closed and therefore, I hope that additional communities will adopt the tool of an internal forum that deals with sexual harassment,” said MK Lavie, who comes from a religious Zionist background.

She was referring to the Takana Forum, which exposed the allegations against Rabbi Elon. The forum includes several well-known rabbis from the religious-Zionist sector among its members.

While the sentencing of Rabbi Elon makes today a “sad day,” she added, it is also a meaningful milestone.

“It is important to remember that while the Rabbi Elon case aroused widespread public interest, it is only one case out of many that have reached the Takana Forum since its establishment,” she added. “The common attitude in the religious Zionist sector used to be that 'things like this don't happen to us'; today it is clear that the phenomenon of sexual harassment exists in the religious sector, just as it does in any other sectors, and that it can happen to anyone. Unlike the past, today there is somewhere to turn to.”

The Chairman of the Bnei Akiva Yeshivas Center, venerated Rabbi Haim Druckman, told IDF Radio before the sentence was announced that the very decision to convict Rabbi Elon was mistaken. “I must say, with all due respect to the learned judge, no one was there. One man says one thing and another says another, who knows what happened there? The judge? Was she there? There were no witnesses and two people were alone...how can you determine one way or another?”

"The verdict is skewed,” the rabbi said. “A judge can also make mistakes, the media stirs matters up and in issued like this, the complainant is believed even when there is no proof.”