Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Rumors of Rabbi’s Sexual Misconduct Raise Tensions Among UK Ultra-Orthodox Jews


Rumors of rabbi’s sexual misconduct raise tensions among UK Haredim  --- Long-simmering scandal threatens to divide those who want to involve secular authorities and those who want to deal with abuse

 London’s ultra-Orthodox establishment is investigating one of its most senior rabbis following a barrage of rumors that he engaged in inappropriate sexual contact with a woman, The Times of Israel has learned.

The rabbi wields considerable influence in the city’s Haredi institutions.

Over the past few weeks, he has been accused in blogs and on the street of a variety of sexual misdeeds with at least one woman — for whom he was allegedly acting as a counselor — and possibly with others. The allegations range from serious criminal offenses to actions which, one rabbi said, may be halachically dubious, but “in the non-rabbinical, non-Haredi world, wouldn’t raise eyebrows.”

The rabbi at the center of the rumors did not return a phone call.

Since mid-October, his London colleagues have met twice to discuss the handling of the case, once in the Orthodox suburb of Golders Green in North West London, and once in the considerably more Haredi Stamford Hill.

Now a prominent London rabbinical authority has appointed a small committee to investigate the claims. The committee apparently includes a mental health professional and a legal professional; at least one of them is Jewish.

Gabriel Schleider, a clerk at the North Square Chambers legal firm, refused to comment on reports that he was on the panel.

One local Haredi rabbi, who like all the British interviewees for this article requested anonymity due to the case’s sensitive nature, said he did not believe the rumors, which “seem incompatible with [the rabbi's] personality.”

Because of the accused rabbi’s senior status and popularity, if the most serious allegations were proven, “it would send shock waves through the community. It would be on par with the chief rabbi being accused of such a thing,” he added.

Another rabbi said the fallout “would be like a mini Shabtai Tzvi,” a reference to the 17th century false messiah who, before his eventual conversion to Islam, legitimized sexual excess as part of religious ritual among his followers. The story is regarded as one of the most disruptive incidents in early modern Jewish history.

Whatever the outcome in this particular case, the severity of some of the allegations has sparked a discussion within the British Haredi community about sexual abuse by members of the clergy — problems that have received scant attention to date.

The discussion will likely intensify in the coming months, as a television investigation into the community’s approach to child sex abuse is currently in its final stages. The program, which is being fronted by journalist Annamarie Cumiskey, has been in the works for more than a year and a half, and The Times of Israel has seen evidence that suggests it will be aired on a major British network, Channel 4, as part of its “Dispatches” current-affairs show.

A looming TV report will apparently allege that sexual crimes are systematically covered up in the Haredi enclaves of London, Manchester and Gateshead

The program will apparently allege that sexual crimes are systematically covered up in the Haredi enclaves of London, Manchester and Gateshead, and will feature testimony from both victims still in the community and several who have left it.

In contrast to New York, where high-profile allegations of abuse in the Orthodox community have become a regular occurrence, in London, they are still relatively rare and low-key. Cases do sometimes come to court — just last week, 40-year-old Menachem Mendel Levy appeared before a London judge to face charges of regularly raping a young Orthodox woman — but the last major abuse scandal occurred in 1991, when two Orthodox, male babysitters in Stamford Hill were accused of molesting their charges. The victims’ family, which went to the police, was chased by a mob and forced to leave the area. The babysitters were later acquitted of most charges.

A number of British rabbis told The Times of Israel that they had seen little evidence of significant incidents of sexual abuse among London’s Haredim.

However, Ben Hirsch, the president of Survivors for Justice, a New York-based advocacy group for survivors of sexual abuse in the Orthodox community, called this naive. He says his organization regularly fields calls and emails from the UK.

“We were quite surprised — it was notable,” he says. “We were getting panicked phone calls from people in London, Stamford Hill, Gateshead and Manchester. Many were so frightened, they wouldn’t give us their names. Those that did were referred to people that were able to deal with situations in the UK. Some were looking for therapists; others just wanted to talk. They were panicked because they were not prepared to go to the authorities, and didn’t know what else to do. People were afraid. We even received calls from several therapists who wanted help dealing with abuse in the Haredi communities in the UK. ”

There is no British equivalent organization to Survivors for Justice, nor any communal organization that deals solely with sexual abuse.

Hirsch says he would expect the rates of sexual abuse in the UK’s ultra-Orthodox community to be similar to those in Haredi communities elsewhere.

“The culture is very similar, and the culture is the source of the problem,” he says.

Referring to Hasidic and other very insular Orthodox communities in particular, he says that in both the US and the UK, “You’ve got a few community leaders in power, and members of the community afraid to cross the road without permission, knowing that if they call the police, they’re on the outs.”

If anything, he says, “based on everything we know of the coverups in London and Gateshead, they are worse, more egregious than the coverups in New York.”

He blames this on the UK communities’ more formalized, top-down rabbinic structure, which gives rabbis even more power than in the US.

In New York, secular authorities have cultivated relations with the ultra-Orthodox community for help in cracking down on sexual abusers, a process that has yet to take place in the UK. In addition, even if offending rates are similar, the absolute numbers of abusers in UK Haredi circles would be minute compared to those in America, as there are fewer than 300,000 Jews of all streams in the UK altogether, as compared to 250,000 Haredim in the New York area alone.

Some rabbis believe that change is afoot. One rabbi says he hopes that the upcoming TV report will make a difference.

“I can’t say [the program's allegations] are not true. We are unable to deal with these issues effectively. We’re much better than we were in the past, but we’re not moving fast enough. A lot of it is naivete — people really sometimes don’t believe it’s happening, or they believe that an abuser can stop if you beat them up or if you treat them. If a person shows remorse, they accept that as genuine, and that they will never do it again.

“If the program is done responsibly, maybe it will be a catalyst. If not, it will be counterproductive.”

The same rabbi claimed that a group of colleagues belonging to the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations was trying to band together to become “the address” for families whose members have experienced sexual abuse. The group would be the final arbiter on whether the families could go to the police.

The purpose, he said, was to circumvent a number of other rabbis who regularly obstruct efforts to report abuse to the secular authorities.

“The group will have the whole support of the rabbinate, and whatever they say, for good and for bad, will be the verdict. No rabbi can start terrorizing families [not to go to the police] — the rabbonim will be standing behind the families.”

Another Haredi rabbi said that the large number of cases in New York has not gone unnoticed in London.

When it came to the recent allegations against the senior London rabbi, he said, “The rabbis don’t want a repeat of New York, where [the rabbis] were accused of not dealing with these issues. They want to be seen to be stamping it out.

“If any discoveries lead to an indictment, they will be the first to expose, condemn and deal with it. The last thing they want to do is try and hush it up.”

The latest scandal burst into the public domain over Sukkot, when a London rabbi reportedly confronted his colleague and demanded that he leave the city

There have also been claims of police involvement in the Haredi investigation of the London rabbi, but The Times of Israel was unable to verify this.

Regarding the current case, rumors surrounding the rabbi’s behavior have been circulating for several months, but other senior rabbis were unwilling to approach him, according to a source familiar with the details of the case.

The allegations burst into the public domain over Sukkot, when a local rabbi reportedly confronted his colleague and demanded that he leave the city.

For Hirsch, this is “standard operating procedure for frum communities. Running the perpetrator out of town is what generally happens when complaints are brought to the rabbinic leadership. Usually the person reporting will be cajoled or intimidated into silence, and the case gets covered up. If the case gets too big, too well-known, there are too many complaints and it cannot be controlled, the attitude is, let’s just get rid of the problem. This means sending the perpetrator to another Jewish community. In cases of child abuse, the perpetrators are almost guaranteed to reoffend.

“Because of the lashon harah [gossip] and shidduch [matchmaking] issues, there is a very strong push to keep it quiet, protect the perpetrator’s family and children from negative impact. They are completely blinded to the dangers this attitude poses to future victims, and the deep injustice to past victims.”

If the rabbis want to bring about real change, he says, they have just one option: involve the police in every case. Rabbis who are not trained professionals cannot investigate allegations of abuse, or even correctly diagnose abuse, nor can they be trusted to fairly investigate their own colleagues or to put the needs of victims above the reputation of the community — there is simply too much conflict of interest.

“If the rabbinical leadership says, ‘We’re not qualified to investigate; go to the authorities,’ that’s when change begins,” he says. “Then there’s no stigma.”

The plan for a permanent group of rabbis to decide whether the police should be approached, he says, was “a classic coverup.

“It’s the fox guarding the henhouse. It needs to be left to the professionals. If these rabbis really want to stop obstructionist rabbis, they need to find the courage to issue a clear and unambiguous statement that says, ‘Don’t go to rabbis to ask permission. Always report child sexual abuse directly to the secular authorities.’ They should put themselves in the firing line and openly praise and support those victims and their families who report abuse to the secular authorities. That would be heroic. Any other rabbinical involvement leads directly to coverup.”

The same applies, he says, to an investigating panel that includes people with ties to the community.

“If the purpose of the panel is to determine whether a rabbi should be defrocked or ejected from a member organization for improper conduct, that’s appropriate. But if the panel seeks to provide an alternative to a formal criminal investigation by trained law enforcement officers, they are playing with fire.”


Monday, October 29, 2012

"There is a culture of avoiding knowledge so as to evade responsibility.” Tendlers, Kolko, Nussbaum, Mondrowitz, Eisemann....etc....Operation Jewtree

Now, Britons are asking how a sexual predator, and perhaps his friends, could operate without detection in some of the nation’s most respected institutions, not just at the BBC but in hospitals and schools around the country where assaults by Mr. Savile are alleged to have taken place.

LONDON — The sexual abuse scandal surrounding the late television host Jimmy Savile widened Sunday after the British police arrested a former pop star in connection with the case.

Metropolitan Police arrested Paul Gadd, better known as Gary Glitter from the 1970s heyday of glam rock, who is a convicted pedophile. Mr. Gadd’s arrest followed accusations that he abused a teenage girl on the premises of the BBC. He was released on bail late Sunday after he was questioned in a London police station.

Since the British television station ITV broadcast a documentary about Mr. Savile earlier this month, some 300 people have come forward claiming that they were abused by the outlandish television star. They described a depraved environment in Mr. Savile’s dressing room at the BBC studios where teenage girls were molested by Mr. Savile and others including Mr. Gadd.

The case has shocked the nation and shone an intense spotlight on the BBC. Nagging questions remain there about why an investigation into Mr. Savile by the “Newsnight” program was abruptly canceled last December, and how much its executives knew about serious allegations that one of its stars had engaged in widespread sexual molestation in the 1970s and 1980s.

Mark Thompson, the incoming chief executive and president of The New York Times Company, was director-general of the BBC when the decision was made to drop the “Newsnight” investigation into Mr. Savile. Mr. Thompson initially said that he knew nothing about the accusations against Mr. Savile or the “Newsnight” investigation, but later acknowledged that a reporter, Caroline Hawley, had mentioned it to him at a reception shortly after the investigation was halted.

On Sunday, a British newspaper, The Sunday Times, reported that other attempts were made to question Mr. Thompson about the allegations against Mr. Savile, who died in October 2011. A freelance journalist wrote in the newspaper that he called Mr. Thompson’s office in May of this year, asking about the accusations that Mr. Savile had abused girls on BBC premises.

The fact that the network had decided not to air the “Newsnight” program about Mr. Savile was far from a secret. “This was in six different newspapers in January and February,” said David Elstein, a former chief executive of Channel 5, a BBC competitor.

“The big failing internally, and this is where Mark comes into the picture, is the deliberate incuriosity of the senior executives,” said Mr. Elstein, who formerly worked at the BBC. “There is a culture of avoiding knowledge so as to evade responsibility.”

On Sunday, a spokesman for Mr. Thompson said: “As Mark has made it clear, he had no involvement in the decision not to proceed with the Newsnight investigation into Jimmy Savile.”

Now, Britons are asking how a sexual predator, and perhaps his friends, could operate without detection in some of the nation’s most respected institutions, not just at the BBC but in hospitals and schools around the country where assaults by Mr. Savile are alleged to have taken place.

The police indicated last week that arrests would be made, sending shivers through the ranks of celebrities who appeared on Mr. Savile’s television shows, like “Top of the Pops” and “Jim’ll Fix It,” and who feared that their names would be drawn into the scandal, as well as former employees and associates.

The police did not name the man who was arrested Sunday, saying only that he was in his 60s. A spokesman for Scotland Yard said the man was arrested shortly after 7 a.m. “on suspicion of sexual offenses.” The arrest came as part of a widening police inquiry known as Operation Yewtree, into “Jimmy Savile and others,” the spokesman said....


Thursday, October 25, 2012

Breaking the Silence: The Media and Male Sexual Abuse

 During the past few years we have finally been hearing more about an epidemic of sexual abuse of children , and thankfully, a few prosecutions. The perpetrators were priests, well-loved sports coaches, boy scout leaders, (rabbis), and even celebrities. The recent scandal at the BBC, linking a well-known personality, Jimmy Savile and his alleged repeated abuse of underage girls, and his charity work which appeared to be a cover for access to children, had been making headline news. Sadly, foundations related to children have often been used as a way to access the vulnerable to use them for sexual abuse. In the U.S., Ireland, the Channel Islands, the list seems to go on and on -- new sordid stories of child sexual abuse are being investigated, at times, linking to a disturbing hierarchy of silence in institutions which were considered "sacred," -- be it the Catholic Church, the BBC or even Penn State football. All of these institutions have been front page headline-makers for the media, and now they are losing trust as they are linked to horrific betrayals of trust. The media has a hugely important role to play in continuing to get the message out not only about sexual abuse of children, but how these children can not only survive, but thrive.

For the adult men who are still suffering from the abuse they suffered as boys, the media headlines stir up feelings of anger, sadness, frustration as they see for example priests who are simply moved, still given access to boys, or die before they are prosecuted, and, luckily, for a few, some relief as they are able to confront the men who harmed them in the courtroom. I am going to focus here on sexual abuse by men in positions of power against boys because, "survey by researchers at the University of Massachusetts-Boston suggests that approximately one in six men is sexually abused before the age of 16." The majority of the sexual abuse by Catholic priests takes place with children between the ages of 11 and 14. According to a USA Today headline: "Hundreds of priests shuffled worldwide, despite abuse allegations." I have seen this same figure repeated again and again, and knowing that it may be even higher as so many live in silence, suffering in shame, their lives damaged by alcoholism, drug abuse, and the inability to trust people in intimate relationships.

Narcissism in our society is rampant, and can be a result of an early violation which leads to a lack of empathy in later life. The narcissistic wounding which occurs when a child's boundaries have been violated can lead to an inability of the victim to be able to be vulnerable, and many men will spend their entire lives avoiding true intimacy.

"Power and wealth are two great anesthetics for the wounded male heart. Power and wealth get men the social trappings, including pretty women and all the toys, that allow men to avoid the emptiness in their own hearts," writes Linda Marks in her article "Narcissism And The Male Heart Wound."

"When I am feeling powerful, I have no pain," commented a man I interviewed.

Marks notes:

"Men have built externally functional selves with worldly rewards. However, these rewards are not rooted in a core sense of self or soul which is inaccessible and undesirable, having been lost, broken, underdeveloped or never defined. This lack of sense of self, fragile self, undeveloped self results in an elaborately built psychic/emotional defense system that draws power and attention towards the person and keeps pain at bay.

'We all have this monster of anxiety and depression that eats around the edges and wants to eat us up,' reflects Mark McDonough, an entrepreneur and explorer of the male heart wound. 'We throw different bones at it: power, sex, alcohol, workaholism, entertainment. There are so many ways to keep that monster from eating you up. Nobody wants to sit with the monster. It's too horrendous.'"

I recently had dinner with a male friend, who is fifty years old and who was sexually abused as a seven-year-old by a family friend, someone well respected in a highly religious community. He told his mother, who promptly washed his mouth out with soap. Another friend was molested by a Catholic priest, a man well-loved by his parents, when he was thirteen. When he told his parents, years later in his twenties, his parents did not believe him. What does this do to a boy, a young man, when he actually speaks out about his abuse and those who are meant to protect and support him -- and they do not believe him, even worse mock him? The suffering in silence morphs into another kind of abuse, self-abuse, which can take many forms. It can deeply disturb relationships, keep men from knowing real intimacy and chase away those who care for them the most.

The media has a responsibility to keep these stories out there in the news, and to follow the court cases and let the voices of those abused be heard. Later in life, this abuse rears its head in a way which can destroy new families, new lives, partnerships, and of course, the victim himself. By talking about abuse in the media, providing resources and catharsis and even documenting confrontation and legal prosecution, the media can provide a tool for victims become survivors who become healthy healed human beings who can maintain loving intimate relationships and learn to trust again.

According to New York psychoanalyst Richard B. Gartner:

"'The bigger the betrayal, the more the boy reacts as though relationships themselves are traumatic. He becomes kind of allergic to being in relationships. It's very hard for a wife or partner to deal with that.'" Such relationships can be emotional -- and physical -- battlefields. Or the men seem coldly remote and "zone out" at home. Many also turn to drugs and alcohol, or become obsessive about food, exercise, or work, devoting so much energy to a career that their families are neglected. Experts call this a hypermasculine response."

In the case of the Catholic Church, the repeated denial, refusal to get to the bottom of how high the level of cover-up goes, the fact that in some instances, has lead to suicides in the cases of some of those abused, life-long problems with addictions and maintaining healthy relationships. Many people of faith have come together to confront these issues as it troubles their deepest beliefs in what the church means to them and their families. Other stay in denial. The more denial, the more children and childhoods will be damaged. The media must keep on this story and make sure it is reported, that pressure is put on the church to bring these abusers to justice and that the stories of this abused be told.

In the recent case of Penn State's once beloved football coach, Jerry Sandusky, a typical pattern of covering up of the powerful person's abuse by other people who are high up in the hierarchy, as with the Vatican cover up of the abuse by priests, once again leads to a mistrust of the system of power and institutions, as well as damaging personal relationships. That the men who are revered and respected by the community and in some cases, the world, and reach powerful positions of authority, are not brought to justice is not only deeply disturbing for those who are victims of this abuse; it makes many of us feel powerless. That is why these abusers must be charged and convicted. Those who cover up for them must be punished. The media must help keep these stories in the headlines and has a responsibility to the victims and to society to do so.

"Based on an extensive grand jury investigation, Sandusky was indicted in 2011 on 52 counts of child molestation dating from 1994 to 2009, though the abuse may have dated as far back as the 1970s," writes Sara Ganim of The Patriot-News.

For the men who had their childhoods irrevocably damaged, a childhood which should have served as a strong base of healthy memories on which to draw from in later life, I wish them peace and closure. I also hope that they find the strength and support to be able to admit openly to what happened to the, and to realize they can heal. They can in fact become examples of how the human spirit, mind and body can overcome such abuse. These men, for me, when they do speak out, especially those who confront their abusers and help bring them to justice, are heroes. They can talk about what happened to them, and their recovery, to their children and others, in order to help people understand the reality of both their own personal recovery, the strength it takes, but also what is sadly a reality of our world. Children must be made aware. Adults need to be able to be vulnerable and open up and share with others their experiences in order for both themselves and the abusive systems in place to be healed.

Everything is connected, and if they can truly deeply heal, learn to forgive themselves and others, each part of their life which has been damaged, can become whole again. In fact, they can be the best partners, the most understanding parents, the most giving and compassionate human beings out there, because they have gone through the entire cycle of a kind of death and rebirth, the Phoenix rising out of the ashes. They can help others to heal, and they can help to heal our institutions and our world. And for those who love them, there can be hope and the reality of a relationship full of love, mutual trust and real intimacy.

According to Ken Singer, LCSW, some of the reactions men who have been abused may have :

1. Denial of Vulnerability: Difficulty recognizing that what happened was sexual abuse. High need for control in interactions with others. May appear stubborn and rigid for control in interactions with others and frequently engage in power struggles, or seem passive, codependent and conforming. Both are protection from feelings of vulnerability.

2. Confusion Regarding Sexual Orientation: Orientation is exhibited in many ways. Some men claim heterosexuality but are sexual with other men. Some homosexual men question their orientation and wonder how they might be different had they not been abused. Other men may not engage in any sexual behaviors with males or females and are unable to determine their sexual orientation.

3. Confusion of Emotional Needs With Sex: Needs for nurturance may be identified as sexual. Many needs may have been met through the sexual abuse and sex continues to be viewed as the only way to be cared for. Real relationships with other men and women are often seen as threatening and sexual behavior may actually be one of the few ways to relate superficially and still have some needs met. Societal norms encourage men to equate sexual prowess with personal value and discourage direct expression of emotional needs. Some men become "Don Juans" or give the impression they are "superstuds" as a way of proving to themselves and the world that they are not gay or weak because of their victimization histories.

4. Gender Shame: Confusion and anxiety regarding masculine identity. Extremely uncomfortable around other men. Does not like to be touched by men and often avoids situations where he may be seen unclothed. Because he does not feel part of the group, he is often isolated with few male friends. Shame is especially powerful regarding feelings about masculinity. "Real men" don't get abused, they can protect themselves. Internalized male models are shaming or nonexistent. May exhibit more feminine characteristics as an attempt to separate from negative masculine image or to avoid identifying with the male abuser.

5. Multiple Compulsive Behaviors: Sex, food, chemicals and work are examples of common compulsive behaviors used to satisfy an internal drive to continually push oneself to avoid feeling pain and to meet dependency needs but is not productive or helpful.

6. Physical and Emotional Symptoms: Hypertension and frequent chest pains. Recurring dreams or nightmares of being chased or attacked, choked or stabbed. Difficulty urinating in public restrooms. Depression and anxiety.

7. Pattern of Victimizing Self or Others: Most victims do not become offenders. Many dysfunctional behaviors may be seen as an attempt to feel more powerful, punish oneself or numb the unwanted feelings connected with the abuse. This may involve passive-aggressive behaviors or subtle put-downs. Some men, act out by exposing, obscene phone calling or voyeuristic activities. Anger toward self can involve suicide attempts or putting oneself in a high risk situations which could lead to injury or death without actually attempting suicide. Victim may react to a current situation as if it were similar to the childhood abuse experience. Victim feels powerless and cannot see the current situation for what it is. Coping mechanisms mimic survival means used during childhood. May actually become involved in abusive relationships as an adult that are in many ways similar to the childhood sexual abuse experience.

8. Boundary Transparency: Unrealistic fear that others can see their failures and vulnerability. They fear they can do nothing to protect themselves. This inability to protect self and feeling unsafe can result in difficulty establishing even minimal trust. Other reactions include anxiety, rage and withdrawal. May have a history of boundary intrusions other than sexual abuse, especially physical and emotional abuse.

9. Chaotic Relationships: Many difficulties around intimacy, autonomy (self-sufficiency) and commitment to a relationship. Extreme and intense swings in needs for closeness and distance with others. The need to be cared for and have dependency needs met is in conflict with fear of vulnerability and re-victimization. This behavior repeats the victim-perpetrator experience with the partner when that person alternately becomes a perpetrator and a protector.

10. Poorly Defined Sense of Self Self protection has resulted in submersion of self with little internal locus of control. Behaviors are similar to codependency. Importance placed on attempts to avoid feelings of confusion and vulnerability.


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

It's the Cover-Up Idiots! The Tendlers Were Kept Around Teenage Girls and Women for 20 Years While the RCC and YULA Did NOTHING!


The police are also inquiring into what they have called abuse on an “unprecedented” scale possibly involving more than 200 girls, some on BBC premises. And, on Tuesday, Prime Minister David Cameron’s office said the government order its own inquiry after the existing investigations.

LONDON — The director general of the British Broadcasting Corporation on Tuesday defended the institution’s handling of a burgeoning sex abuse scandal involving one of its best-known personalities, saying the corporation was not trying to “avoid answering questions” and had begun inquiries that were “the opposite of an attempt to hide things.”

In his remarks, Mr. Entwistle expressed “horror” at the scandal.

The director, George Entwistle, was appearing before a parliamentary panel that has played a major part in investigating Britain’s phone hacking scandal and is known for its often abrasive interview techniques.

But in more than two hours, Mr. Entwistle seemed to parry most questions, falling back frequently on the argument that formal inquiries that he has commissioned at the BBC would resolve some of the issues. Denying accusations of a cover-up, he expressed “horror” at the scandal and said it had raised questions of trust and reputation for the BBC. He insisted that his direct knowledge of the episode was minimal, prompting panel members to mock him for what they called an extraordinary lack of curiosity about events around him.

The hearing came just a day after the BBC broadcast an examination by the “Panorama” program into a decision by the editor of another program, “Newsnight,” to cancel an investigation last December into accusations of abuse against Jimmy Savile, an iconic showman once depicted by the BBC as a national treasure.

“There is no question in my mind that this is a very grave matter indeed,” Mr. Entwistle said.

“I would accept that there have been times when we have taken longer to do things than in a perfect world I would have liked,” he continued. “But I think if you looked at what we have achieved since the scale of the crisis became clear, I think you see we have done much of what we should have done and done it in the right order with proper respect paid to the right authorities.”

It was not possible to look back on the decades of Mr. Savile’s behavior “with anything but horror that his activities went on as long as they did undetected,” Mr. Entwistle said.

Asked whether sexual abuse was endemic at the BBC, as some victims have suggested, Mr. Entwistle said he did “not have enough of a picture to know it was endemic.”

But he went on: “There’s no question that what Jimmy Savile did and the way the BBC behaved — the culture and practices of the BBC seemed to allow Jimmy Savile to do what he did — will raise questions of trust for us and reputation for us.”

The BBC has instituted two formal investigations, one into its culture over decades and one into the specific details of the canceled “Newsnight” program. Mr. Entwistle said the “scope and scale” of those inquiries was “as wide as it should be” to fully investigate the scandal.

The police are also inquiring into what they have called abuse on an “unprecedented” scale possibly involving more than 200 girls, some on BBC premises. And, on Tuesday, Prime Minister David Cameron’s office said the government order its own inquiry after the existing investigations.

David Jordan, the BBC’s head of editorial policy, told the panel that since the period when some of the abuse has taken place, the BBC has tightened its rules governing the protection of children on its premises. “The sorts of things that happened, where people were allowed to be taken into the dressing rooms of stars, as has been alleged, should not and could not happen today.”

The BBC announced on Monday that the editor of “Newsnight,” Peter Rippon, was “stepping aside” while the episode is investigated after it was found that his explanation of the cancellation was “incomplete” or “inaccurate.”

Mr. Entwistle said there was no question of managerial pressure on Mr. Rippon to cancel the investigation. “The decision was made by Peter Rippon,” he said.

Mr. Entwistle, who took over as director general on Sept. 17, was also questioned about a conversation he had last December at a time when the BBC was planning a series of glowing, year-end tributes to Mr. Savile, who died last year at 84.

At that time, Helen Boaden, the BBC’s director of news, told Mr. Entwistle at a lunch that the investigation by “Newsnight” could have an impact on year-end schedules and he might have to change them.....

READ ENTIRE ARTICLE: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/24/world/europe/parliament-questioning-bbc-chief-entwistle-in-abuse-scandal.html?hp

Monday, October 22, 2012

Mind Control - Rabbinical Tyranny and Freedom of Thought - Part 2

It is a well-known fact that after the death of Darwin, his evolution theory became more and more popular and many young Jews were attracted by his ideas and left the fold. In 1885, in the city of Kovno, there was a meeting of rabbis that included the famous geonim (Torah giants) Rabbi Elchanan Spector and Rabbi Alexander Lapides. One prominent leader suggested that any Jew who studied Darwin's works should be ostracized. Rabbis Spector and Lapides strongly opposed the move on the grounds that "mayim genuvim yimtaku" (2), stolen waters are sweet, and banning Darwin's books would only make his theories more appealing. (3)

Judaism has little interest in using thought control. Prior to the emancipation of the Jews, bans were sometimes used when the coherence of a Jewish community, living in gentile and often hostile surroundings, was at stake. Yielding to unity then was crucial to the survival of the Jewish people. The rabbis, however, were very reluctant to impose bans knowing how harmful they would be for the so-called renegades and even for their families. (4) But above all, they realized that such condemnations were for the most part counter-productive.

Religious condemnations today, by ban or other means, reflect negatively on those who issue them. They are symptoms of fear and lack of intellectual honesty. They indicate a refusal to conduct intellectual debate, and they display fundamentalism and dogmatism. Willfully or unintentionally, bans are identified with the Christian clerical authorities who condemned Galileo in the seventeenth century for suggesting that the earth was not the center of the universe. Bans have been enforced against demons, witches and other objects of superstition. Hardly activities that rabbis would want to be identified with.

Should rabbis wish to send a message to their followers that they are not in agreement with the contents of certain books, they should first realize that bans and condemnations are not the road to take. It is no longer possible to contain censorship or condemnation solely within a certain social group. Once released, it travels to every corner of the world to be seen by all, Jews and gentiles. Most of the time, it elicits laughter and greatly embarrasses authentic Judaism. This is especially so when certain rabbis try to withhold scientific information from their followers, or want to hold on to ideas that the intellectual community and authentic Judaism have long since rejected as simplistic, outdated, and even incorrect.

No doubt, rabbis have a right to convey their displeasure, but they should do so through appropriate and convincing arguments, never through mind control. (5)

Refuting arguments in one's study is easy when one has only to answer oneself. The art is to confront the adversary and see if one's arguments really live up to the challenge. Instead of condemning a book, one should meet the author, ask him to explain his point of view and then try to refute his opinions. In that case, the first requirement is to actually read the book carefully from beginning to end. Reviewing or criticizing a book before having read it is highly problematic, unless the reader is afraid of being too prejudiced by reading it!

Furthermore, a truthful criticism should reflect great expertise. Recklessly condemning scientific claims is a sign of great ignorance, even if some of these claims may be open to debate. Such statements are an indication that one cannot suffer disagreement because one is unable to defend oneself. They reveal an inability to handle opposing views. Pulling something apart is often the trade of those who cannot construct. As English writer Charles Caleb Colton once said, "Criticism is like champagne: nothing more execrable if bad, nothing more excellent if good."

It is also a matter of decency not to condemn somebody's views when they are in essence restating earlier and well-established sources quoted by great rabbinical authorities. One should have the courage to challenge or attack the earlier sources and not those who rely on them and who are more vulnerable. Yet lately, the latter has become the practice. This is dishonest. To hide behind false valor and take the easy way out shows great cowardice. Courage is the direct result of resisting and mastering fear; never is it a consequence of escaping fear.

Criticism should not be quarrelsome and destructive, but should rather be guiding, instructive and inspiring. Judaism has never feared dissent and debate but has in fact encouraged it. What, after all, is the benefit of condemnation when Judaism simultaneously loses its soul?

It is time to reestablish Judaism on its authentic foundations as a religion of moral and intellectual heroism, one that encourages open-mindedness. We must never forget that we owe most of our knowledge not to those who have agreed with us but to those who have differed.

Jews have greatly suffered from condemnations and inquisitions. The Talmud and its many commentaries have often been put on the Index Librorum Prohibitorum (List of Prohibited Books) of the Catholic Church. It has been condemned and burned but has outlived all its foes. Let us therefore be careful not to follow in the footsteps of the Church, which loved the truth so much that it was afraid of overexposure. Such attitudes have no place in the Jewish religious world of today. The truth cannot be served by imposing bans, but only by honest investigation and dialogue. Today it is wrong to use a ban or open condemnation, even when one is right, let alone when one is definitely mistaken.

Judaism was able to overcome many of its intellectual opponents because it showed courage. It is committed to the truth because it is convinced that the truth is represented by the holy Torah.

1. In the last few years more and more books and essays by well-respected Torah teachers have been condemned as heresy by some influential rabbinic authorities. Several years ago, the books of Rabbi Natan Slifkin were put under a religious ban by several rabbinic leaders in Israel and the USA. The rabbis claimed that his books on Torah and science include heretical views that contradict Jewish Tradition. This ban turned into a major desecration of God's name (it hit the NY Times in 2005), greatly damaging the image of Judaism. Most disturbing is the fact that the condemnations hurled at Rabbi Slifkin were seemingly meant for earlier eminent rabbinic authorities who were the first to make these "heretical" observations. Apparently, the rabbis who condemned his book did not dare to challenge those earlier authorities and therefore attacked Rabbi Slifkin. It has also come to our attention that several rabbis who signed the ban did not read Rabbi Slifkin's books but simply relied on hearsay.

2. Mishle (Proverbs), 9:17; Nedarim 91a.

3. Rabbi Ahron Soloveichik, Logic of the Heart, Logic of the Mind, (Jerusalem: Genesis Jerusalem Press, 1991) p. 55.

There is a beautiful end to this story: "Then, [the famous sage, tzaddik and exponent of mussar] Rabbi Simcha Zissel Ziv of Kelm enunciated an entirely different approach. How can anyone blame a man like Darwin for propounding his theories of evolution and descent from animals and lower forms of life? He kept the company of so many British lords who were only interested in waging war, people with little or no regard for the rights of their fellow beings.... 'If Darwin had mingled with individuals like my mentor, Rabbi Yisrael Salanter,' said Reb Simcha Zissel, 'he could never have uttered such a ridiculous theory.' Rabbi Simcha Zissel Ziv contended that the most effective way to counteract Darwinism and any teaching antithetical to the Torah is not to avoid them but to overcome them by inculcating moral and ethical values" (ibid).

Obviously, we know today that Darwin's theories are far from foolish. They have added much to our knowledge, though the discussion concerning his claims still continues. The venerable Rav Avraham Yitzchak Kook, mystic, philosopher and former Chief Rabbi of British Mandatory Palestine, was of the opinion that evolution conforms to the teachings of Kabbalah. See for example: Oroth Hakodesh, vol. 2, p 537.

4. See for example: Responsa of the Rosh 43.9 and Responsa Mahari Bruna, 189.

5. It is well known that the "heretic" Uriel da Costa of Amsterdam (1585-1640), forerunner of Spinoza, was put under a ban several times by the leaders of the Portuguese Spanish Synagogue in Amsterdam and consequently committed suicide. Concerning this most unfortunate and tragic case, the famous sage Rabbi Baruch Halevi Epstein, author of the Torah commentary Torah Temimah, made the following comment:

"This phenomenon, to our sadness, seems to repeat itself in every generation. Whenever people quarrel over matters related to ideology and faith, and a person discovers his more lenient opinion is in the minority, all too often--although his original view differed only slightly from the majority--the total rejection he experiences pushes him over the brink. Gradually, his views become more and more irrational and he becomes disgusted with his opponents, their Torah and their practices, forsaking them completely.... Instead of instructing him (da Costa) with love and patience and extricating him from his maze of doubts by showing him his mistake, they disparaged him. They pursued him with sanctions and excommunication, cursing him until he was eventually driven away completely from his people and his faith and ended his life in a most degrading way..." (Mekor Baruch, chapter 13:5.)

This surely applies to the ban on Spinoza as well, although there may have been political motives to this ban so as not to create a frontal clash between the Portuguese Spanish Jewish community and the Dutch authorities.

6. American writer and poet Arthur Guiterman.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Foreign Policy Debate Ahead

Foreign policy has long been considered the one area in which President Obama has a decisive edge over challenger Mitt Romney in the eyes of most voters. Or at least that was the case until Sept. 11 2012, when mobs overran the U.S. embassy in Cairo and Al Qaeda terrorists killed the U.S. ambassador to Libya, together with three other State department personnel.

Voters do not normally pay a great deal of attention to foreign affairs, at least in the absence of obvious disaster or war, and that has served to protect President Obama's foreign policy from closer voter scrutiny. While the United States' determination and ability to secure its vital interests and guard the stability of the international order have declined on his watch, these are matters far from the purview of most voters. As long as the President removed American troops from Iraq – no matter what the cost in terms of expanding Iranian influence in the country – and is well along in the process of doing so in Afghanistan, voters were sure to give him the nod over Governor Romney when it comes to guiding America's foreign affairs over the next four years.

September 11 2012 changed all that, and the events of that day and the administration's response to them will likely dominate discussion of foreign policy until November 6. From the point of view of a candidate locked in a very close contest, it is understandable why Romney would punch away at Obama's greatest foreign policy vulnerability: By putting the President on the defensive, Romney can negate Obama's perceived foreign policy advantage. But in truth, the events of September 11 are just a subset of more general policy failures that Romney will have to address if he is elected.

Let us first understand why September 11 constitutes a virtual refutation of the centerpiece of the Obama administration's foreign policy – its outreach to the Moslem world. Obama entered office with a near mystical belief in his powers of persuasion and the force of his charisma. That confidence was most on display with respect to the Muslim world. Both as a candidate and after his election, Obama touted his formative years spent in Muslim Indonesia and his knowledge of Koran.

His much publicized 2009 Cairo speech was the high point of his outreach to the Muslim world. There he proclaimed, without a scintilla of evidence, the identity of Islamic and American values: "[Islam and America] share common principles – principles of justice and progress, tolerance, and the dignity of all human beings." He used that same speech to apologize for a litany of American wrongs to the Muslim world, including having acted "contrary to our ideals" in the interrogation of Muslim prisoners. And he implied that anti-Muslim prejudice, Islamophobia, lies behind criticism of Islamic intolerance, anti-Semitism, and misogyny: "We cannot disguise hostility to any religion behind the pretense of liberalism."

Yet for all the apologies and bowing to Arab potentates, the United States is no more popular in the Middle East than under President George W. Bush. According to the Pew Center, America's unfavorability ratings in the both Egypt and Jordan are higher than they were four years ago. The day after the Cairo embassy was overrun by mobs so were a number of other U.S. embassies around the Middle East.

Obama's failure to boost America's popularity – a highly overrated quality at any rate -- highlights one of the central follies of the Obama administration's reading of the Muslim world – the assumption that anti-Americanism is primarily a result of American actions rather than growing out of indigenous forces within Islam and the deep sense of failure that pervades Arab and Muslim societies when they compare themselves to the West.

There is much evidence that Obama actually believes the bromides he offered in Cairo about the identity of Islam and democracy. He consistently portrays radical Islam, with its expansionist theology, as a fringe phenomenon in the Islamic world, and the problem of radical Islam as primarily one of a few terrorists groups. As Middle East analyst Barry Rubin puts it, the Obama administration is focused on law enforcement actions against Al Qaeda, while Islamists take over entire countries.

Its misreading of the Arab and Muslim world led the administration to take a far too sanguine view of Arab Spring and to take too little account of the dangers of posed by the Muslim Brotherhood, at the expense of true liberals, in countries under transition. Obama placed Muslim Brotherhood representatives in the front row of his Cairo speech. And the administration provided Egypt's new Muslim-Brotherhood-led government with $1.3 billion of emergency aid, with no strings attached. Yet President Mohamed Morsi did nothing to prevent the Cairo embassy from being overrun by rioters. Nor, it seems, did it ever occur to the President or Secretary of State to demand that he do so. Even President Obama had to admit afterwards that Egypt is no longer "exactly an ally."

The slightest dip into Muslim Brotherhood theology – the group also spawned Al Qaeda and Hamas – and its rampant anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism would have warned the administration that this would be the case. At root, the Obama administration's inability to understand the limits on Muslim Brotherhood moderation derives from the refusal of liberals to take religious seriously. But religious principles cannot be abrogated overnight. As the leading living Muslim Brotherhood theorist Khariat el-Shafar puts it, "No one can come say, 'Let's change the overall mission' [i.e., the Islamization of all aspects of society]. . . . No one can say, 'Forget obedience, discipline and structure.'"

The murder of the Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens by Al Qaeda-affiliated terrorists put to rest one ofthe central boasts of the President Obama's campaign – i.e., that the killing of Osama bin Laden marked the end of Al Qaeda – and turned it into at best a symbolic victory. Protestors in Cairo and at other embassies in the Arab world chanting, "Obama, Obama, we love Osama," brought the point home.

And the assassination called into question the administration's Libyan policy, by highlighting the degree to which the Western-supported overthrow of Gaddafi created a vacuum in Libya into which jihadi terrorists have poured.

IN RESPONSE TO THE EVENTS of September 11, top administration officials – Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, UN Ambassador Susan Rice, Presidential Press Secretary Jay Carney, and the President himself quickly settled on a narrative: the trigger for Cairo riots (and those that followed the next day in Yemen and elsewhere), as well as the events leading to Ambassador Stevens murder was a trailer for an insulting film about Islam apparently produced in America. That narrative, the falsity of which should have been quickly realized by every sentient being, was the outgrowth of both politics and ideology.

First, the ideology. The narrative fit well with administration's basic view of the Muslim world comprised of people basically just like us, albeit with a lower threshold of irritability, whose hatred of America and the West is largely the result of the wrongs and insults they have suffered. Clinton, Rice, and Carney thus proclaimed over and over again their revulsion at a movie they had never seen, and which may not even exist. In response to Egyptian President Morsi's demand that the those responsible for the film be prosecuted, the producer of the trailer (once he was identified) was visited by brown-shirted U.S. Probation officers in the middle of the night and taken away for questioning about possible probation violations. And Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey contacted an obscure Florida pastor to ask him not to show the film so as to not incite further Muslim rioting. In short, many in the administration do actually view the United States, including its freedom of expression, as a principal cause of radical Islam.

Politics, of course, had a good deal to do with the chosen narrative as well. Candidate Obama obviously had no interest in highlighting the fact that Al Qaeda is still alive and kicking, much less the failure of his entire outreach to the Muslim world. Thus Press Secretary Carney was at pains to insist that the rioting was "obviously not a response to United States policy, and obviously not the administration or the American people, [but to] a film we judged to be reprehensible and disgusting."

Yet from the start the story did not hold, even with respect to the events at the Cairo embassy. On September 8, an Arabic-language website called for the burning of the U.S. Embassy in Cairo unless certain demands (none involving a film) were met. Those threats were published in an article by Raymond Ibrahim of the Middle East Forum the day before the Cairo embassy was overrun. (Despite the warnings, security was not reinforced and the Marines guarding the embassy were not provided with ammunition.) Moreover, the leader of the rioters was none other than Muhammed al-Zawahiri, brother of Al Qaeda's current leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri.

In Libya, the claim of a spontaneous riot evolving into a terrorist attack was facially implausible. The night before the attack, Sean Smith, one of those killed, posted on-line his premonition of a coming attack: "We saw one of our 'police' that guard the compound taking pictures." He worried about dying that night. Finally, the number of those who attacked the embassy compound and the quality of their weaponry made it clear that the attack was a carefully planned terrorist operation. Just prior to congressional hearings three weeks later, the State Department finally admitted that all had been quiet at the compound when Ambassador Stevens bid farewell to his last guest, less than an hour before the start of the attack. At the same time, State Department representatives detailed numerous requests for increased security in Benghazi, all of which had been turned down.

Following the Watergate rule, the cover-up only made matters worse, much worse. Within the administration, everyone was busy pushing the envelope when it came to explaining why the administration had spent five days pushing a blatantly false story about a spontaneous demonstration morphing into a terror attack. The White House claims that it was relying on intelligence reports, but the intelligence points circulated to Congress appear to have been carefully crafted. Reuter's Mark Housenball reports that the first information streaming into Washington during and just following the Benghazi attack did not mention a demonstration. The initial intelligence report fashioned from those feeds, however, did raise the possibility that the Benghazi terrorists sought to use the Cairo eruption over the film a a pretext for the attacks. Only four days later, did the administration circulate to Congress "CIA talking points" suggesting that the [non-existent] demonstrations in Benghazi were spontaneously inspired by the protest in Cairo.

[This piece was written prior to the October 16 presidential debate, at which President Obama claimed to have referred to the killing of Ambassador Stevens as "an act of terror," in remarks in the Rose Garden on September 12, before leaving for the fundraiser in Las Vegas. But the reference to an "act of terror" followed two paragraphs discussing the attacks of September 11 2011. In his discussion of the events in Libya, the president referred only to "senseless violence" and "brutal acts," perpetrated by "killers," not terrorists. And he implicitly linked those "brutal acts" to the offensive movie, by describing the United States as a nation that "rejects all efforts to denigrate religious beliefs of others."]

Ambassador Stevens
Meanwhile, at a State Department briefing of reporters on October 9, Charlene Lamb, who was in real-time communication wit Benghazi during the attack, gave a detailed account of the events at the U.S. compound on the night of September 11, and said that it had never been the State Department's view that the attack on the compound was anything other than a terrorist operation or that it had been preceded by a demonstration. Asked by Fox News' Chris Wallace whether President Obama had met with national security officials after the attack before jetting away to a fundraiser in Las Vegas, campaign guru David Axelrod evaded the question.

Ambassador Stevens
The question remains to be answered: If the State Department never believed that the Benghazi attack was the outgrowth of a protest over the movie trailer, how did Ambassador Rice appear on numerous Sunday morning talk shows, five days after the attack to espouse her "the movie made them do it theory." She is, after all, a State Department employee. And her boss, Secretary of State Clinton, also busied herself with denunciations of the unseen film and wondering how this could have happened in Libya, after everything America had done for the people of Libya.

In sum, the foreign policy apparatus of the administration stands indicted for having negligently failed to protect its foreign service personnel in dangerous locations, and, far worse, for having advanced a narrative to explain the events of September 11 that was either mendacious or phantasmagoric, in order to evade having to face the delusions of its foreign policy towards the Muslim world. And Mitt Romney will understandably harp on these points, which are relatively easily digested, in the coming debates.

NEVERTHELESS, IT IS TOO BAD that the discussion will likely not focus on more fundamental issues concerning the direction of American foreign policy. Perhaps that would be too much to expect from the debate format. As Jackson Diehl writes in the October 15 Washington Post, future historians are likely to attach much more importance to Obama's Syrian policy than to poor security decisions made by mid-level State Department officials about Benghazi. The former, he writes, "exemplifies every weakness in his foreign policy – from his excessive faith in "engaging" troublesome foreign leaders to his insistence on multilateralism as an end in itself to his self-defeating caution in asserting American power." As a consequence, the United States sits on the sidelines in Syria, while "allies" like Saudi Arabia fund the Islamist forces among the Syrian opposition, and thereby make likely that the world's largest cache of chemical and biological weapons will eventually fall into the hands of Islamists.

Obama seeks to deflect attention from Syria so that he can carry on with his cheery mantra of "war is receding." But the truth is the world is not becoming a safer place. In many ways, it is much more unpredictable and unstable since the end of the Cold War 1989, and with it a bi-polar world. The rise of radical Islam and the accompanying proliferation of terrorism, by both state and non-state actors, increase the sources of danger.

Nature abhors a vacuum, and the withdrawal of America from its role as guarantor of global order will be filled by actors both inimical to our values and security. Neither America nor the world can afford an America that is, in Bernard Lewis's words, neither trusted by its friends nor feared by its enemies. But that is what has taken place over at an accelerated rate over the last four years (and to be fair under a series of American administrations.) It's not that America does not continue to hold the best geo-political cards, writes Walter Russell Mead, but that it has forgotten how to play them.

Iran is the test case for the future of the global order, Bret Stephens argues, in a masterful article in the current Commentary devoted to foreign policy issues. Iran presents Western policymakers, chief among them the President of the United States, with a clear binary choice. Either avoid a confrontation now because it will "likely entail unseen and unpleasant consequences, or accept a nuclear Iran soon, which will entail easily foreseeable and utterly disastrous consequences. It says something about the quality of statesmanship and public discourse in the West today that the choice should be presented as a difficult one and the decision . . . should be so much in doubt."

Romney has spoken about the need to identify and aid potential allies among the Syrian opposition, has criticized the Obama administration for failing to convince the Iranians of its seriousness, and called for the United States to retain its overwhelming naval superior and the ability to deploy on multiple fronts. In a major foreign policy address, just after the first presidential debate, he asserted that "our friends and allies" want more, not less, American leadership. For "if America does not lead, others will – others who do not share our interests and our values."

American global leadership cannot be separated from the theme of economic strength that has been the centerpiece of the Romney campaign. As Cicero (quoted by Victor Davis Hanson in the curren Commentary) warned, "the sinews of war are endless money." The Soviet Union ultimately imploded because it did not have the economic capability of matching the American arms buildup under Reagan. By the same token, if American entitlement spending continues to skyrocket, until it accounts for almost the entire U.S. budget, the United States will be unable to maintain its position as the world's pre-eminent military power.

And if the global order devolves into chaos, following an American withdrawal from its role of guardian of stability and trade, there will be no hope of the recovery of the world economy from its current doldrums. Romney would do well to link a growing, vibrant American economy to continued American leadership.

But my guess is that his critique of Obama's Syrian policy will be muted by the lack of any good or obviousoptions – just less bad ones. Nor will he enunciate any red lines on Iran, lest he seen to be acting as the puppet of Prime Minister Netanyahu. And too much emphasis on the necessity of American leadership will, unfortunately, be selling spinach to an American public eager to consume of ice cream of Obama's "war is receding."

So, as Diehl writes with resignation, it will be easier for Romney to focus in the foreign policy debate on the death of ambassador in a terrorist attack than to force President Obama into a serious discussion about American foreign policy going forward.


An E-Mail From My Friend


My Dear Friend Paul,

Well, I was hoping for more from Romney, and I'm  sure you were too. But he did OK.

He seems very gun-shy about challenging/attacking Obama on hard core facts, such as this Libya tragedy and all his broad sweeping proclamations about how his policies are working, how the Bush administration created this mess, and how he, Obama, is more for the middle class and small business than is Romney and his republican pals.

All this is preposterous and ripe for ridicule and attack .But there was little of this. Again, he's either gun shy, afraid of making a mistake at this late stage of the game, or simply lacks the killer-instinct we'd like to see.

Romney is a nice guy and plays fair. But he's in a mud-wrestling contest with a political Hulk Hogan, and he's been dirtied up a lot. Why his handlers/advisors don't remind him of this, I can't imagine?

In the last debate he will get one more chance to say full on, to Obama 's face, your policies are bringing this country down!

Your actions and posturings in the days and weeks following the Libya tragedy were unintelligible and without merit or consequence, leaving the American people in the dark as to why their ambassador was murdered ! It's been over a month, and we still don't know who was responsible for this breakdown!

Your claims to be for the middle class is a ruse, because you won't define which middle class you're talking about? We all know you mean people making less than $100K, but the real movers/shakers of our economy are all those making $100K & $500K. These are the real drivers of the economy,
and you would tax and penalize them, forcing them to shed jobs and lay off workers; some say as many
as 750,000 jobs, with the stroke of your pen!

These are the real middle & upper middle class folks making America great, but you call them rich and privileged, which proves you don't have a clue about the economic contribution they make.

You claim 97% of small businesses make under $250K. That's bogus too. We all know about the tax structuring of their companies with C-Corps/S-Corps /LLC's which dilutes the earnings. Also tax breaks
for depreciation/amortization and other methods to lower income & reduce tax. These folks make in pure terms much more and hire over half the workforce, but you'd tamper with that, driving a stake through the heart of our economy.

Then you say you're for small business, but you demonize them with the tax code, and you're on record as telling them "they didn't build that", which is utter nonsense and a slap in their face!

You keep claiming you've added 5 million jobs, but that's after losing 28 million! And no, Bush didn't lose them,YOU DID - with your crazy regulations, Obamacare and proposed tax increases. This whole mess
is on your watch, it's your failure and your responsibility. So do us a favor, stop blaming Bush!

I could go on, but you get the idea. Romney must rise to this final occasion/opportunity to rub
Obama's nose in it.

Accuse him of lying, not understanding how the economy works, or how to run a business, or what really drives a successful foreign policy, or how to properly and effectively deal with a crisis like Libya, or how to elicit the cooperation of an unfriendly congress. Lest we forget, that's being a leader, in the
midst of adversity . . .

Whether our Jewish friends, or folks in those border-states of Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida and the rest get this is anyone's guess? It seems we live in an age where, whoever tells the most lies wins! How could this happen? Evidently, by having more and more people abandon any attempt at staying informed, understanding the issues, recognizing a phony when he's in their face, or comprehending what it means to be an American.

Yes, we tolerate and welcome all views and ideologies, but these are shadings/colorings if you will, that don't dramatically pull the mainstream of American thought off it's center path. In other words, if you truly think socialism, statism or communism is the way to go, or some kind of ultra-right wing, Christian-based theocracy for that matter, then you're no longer an American. One cannot sponsor and subscribe to these ideologies without abandoning the basic precepts of what it means to be an American.

Jews of course, tend to be left and feel government should help more. A little of that goes a long way. Wilson did that, FDR more, LBJ more still, and now Barack Obama is barreling down the left side of the mountain. It's too much, can't work, hasn't worked in Europe and other places, and will never work in light of the hopes and dreams of the human spirit.

Undecided swing-staters, I haven't a clue. How they can still be on the fence inspite of the trouble we're in, I find unimaginable. May as well be a proverbial ostrich with its head in the sand! One thing's sure, they better decide soon, because it all hinges on them, the Jews, and reasonably rationale and intelligent blacks, browns and single-white females.

That's where we're at. Let's hope some of these folks begin to see  the light, and come to their senses. If some of them will do that, and if this Libyan scandal catches fire like it should and heads begin to roll,
well, who knows, we just might find ourselves with a change of course, a new engineer driving the train, and a bunch of folks finally wakening from their political slumbers and starting to take an interest.

Yep, that good old American Spirit might just win the day!

Take Heart & Stay Well



You've been reading a letter from me to my good friend of many,  many years, Paul M. You can find more letters and other thoughts of mine, including ongoing commentaries of current topics and issues,
at my new blogsite; www.shaneview.com

Alvan I Shane
2175 Foothill Blvd Suite B
La Verne, Calif 91750

Author, The Day Liberty Wept

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

UOJ to Catholic Church - DROP DEAD!

Archdiocese restores Philadelphia priest to ministry

 Archbishop Charles J. Chaput said Monday that he had reinstated a Philadelphia priest whose case city prosecutors cited as proof that the archdiocese failed to properly investigate clergy sex abuse or misconduct.

The Rev. Joseph DiGregorio had been accused of molesting a teenage girl in the late 1960s. His case was a focal point of the scathing 2011 grand jury report about the handling of abuse cases by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, and he was among the first of 26 priests placed on leave as church officials reexamined allegations against them.

But DiGregorio's case stood out for other reasons. The allegations were among the oldest against any cleric, and were leveled by a single accuser. He was also the only suspended priest to publicly deny wrongdoing.

Noting the public attention to the case, Chaput said the archdiocese enlisted more than 20 child-abuse experts to review it. The examiners concluded that DiGregorio had violated church standards for priests' behavior, but also found "compelling evidence" that he was suitable to return to ministry, Chaput said.

Citing policy, the archbishop declined to explain the violations. But his decision was "based on the facts of Father DiGregorio's case, a thorough external investigation, the fact that no other complaints were reported in an atmosphere where the public was largely aware of the situation, and that thorough clinical evaluations from competent outside authorities indicate he poses no danger to minors," Chaput said.

DiGregorio is the eighth cleric from the group placed on leave to be allowed to resume his public duties as a priest. He is the only one restored despite being found to have violated the church's behavior standards for priests.

Seven others have been permanently barred from ministry, and one died before the review of his case was complete. Also, the Rev. Andrew McCormick is awaiting a criminal trial in the alleged sexually assault of a 10-year-old altar boy in 1997.

DiGregorio's reinstatement was first announced over the weekend in two Philadelphia churches he served in the last decade, Stella Maris and St. Martin of Tours.

The priest declined to comment Monday. His lawyer, Gregory Pagano, said DiGregorio was grateful to be reinstated and looked forward to someday returning to a parish - he wasn't sure which one - but would be forever hurt by the allegations.

"It's unfortunate that he was even implicated by the taint of this investigation," Pagano said. "It had no merit, it has no merit. . . . And his lifelong commitment to good work will forever be tainted, to some extent."

The woman who leveled the accusation said she was stunned when an archdiocesan official told her of Chaput's decision.

"This is just an example of the hypocrisy of the Catholic Church and how they cover up for the priests," said Barbara Dellavecchia, speaking publicly for the first time. "He abused me. Everything in that grand jury report is true."

The report said that DiGregorio's accuser - named in the document under the pseudonym Donna - contacted the archdiocese in 2005 and reported that she had been abused by two priests at Our Lady of Loreto Parish in West Philadelphia in the late 1960s. One, William Santry, confessed to misconduct and was removed from the priesthood.

The other was DiGregorio, who Dellavecchia claimed had molested her in a car and at the rectory, "kissing her, removing her bra, lying on top of her, and fondling her breasts," the report said.

In an interview, Dellavecchia, now 62, said she kept the abuse secret until about a decade ago, when it emerged during counseling.

"I never felt free to say anything while my parents were still alive because I didn't want to upset them," she said. "Plus, I was trying to handle it on my own, and I wasn't succeeding at it."

Her claim landed in 2006 before the archdiocese's Review Board, the independent body that examines allegations of clerical misconduct and recommends action to the archbishop. According to the grand jury report, the priest agreed to take a lie-detector test, and it "indicated that Father DiGregorio was being deceptive when he said that he did not fondle Donna in his car and his bedroom."

In March 2006, the review board first deemed that Dellavecchia's allegation against DiGregorio was credible, citing the consistency of her claim, the confession from the other priest, and what the board said was the inconclusive result of DiGregorio's polygraph.

Three weeks later, the board noted that all of its members had not been present for the first vote and voted again. This time, it declared the claim was not substantiated and recommended no action against DiGregorio.

He became one of three priests whose cases were highlighted by prosecutors as examples of how they said the archdiocese let priests remain in ministry despite credible accusations of abuse.

DiGregorio, a former military chaplain, fired back and publicly vowed to fight. "I'm not hiding anything," he told The Inquirer last year. "I didn't do this."

The priest's lawyer said Monday that he was unsure which standards his client was found to have violated.

Chaput said his decision followed recommendations from the review board and a team of investigators overseen by Gina Maisto Smith of the Ballard Spahr law firm. "All cases are unique and contain various factors that require careful consideration," the archbishop said. "This one was no exception."

There is no indication when the rest of the cases will be resolved. Three remain under review by local law enforcement agencies, the archdiocese said.

Even the ones already settled by the archbishop might not be over. At least four of the priests who have been permanently removed from ministry have appealed the decisions to Rome, according to a source familiar with the cases.


Monday, October 15, 2012

Predators on Pedestals

America has Jerry Sandusky. Britain has Jimmy Savile.

Sandusky you know; the predatory Penn State football coach was sentenced last week to spend his remaining years in prison for raping boys who looked up to him. Savile you may have missed; a venerable British TV personality who died last year, he is now at the center of a posthumous scandal unspooling in London. His appetites ran mostly to adolescent girls, but otherwise the parallels are striking. In both cases, the story is not just one of individual villainy but of the failure of a trusted institution, if not a flaw in the wider culture.

Perhaps you’ve had your fill of these sordid accounts — the celebrity gropers, the pedophile priests, the fondling in the locker room shower, the witnesses who look the other way. But Savile’s case is worth mulling, if only because the institution in which his serial child abuse took place is one of the most respected media organizations in the world, a putative shrine to truth and accountability: the BBC. And in the early days of the scandal the revered broadcaster has faced the same questions of dereliction or outright cover-up that dogged Penn State and the Catholic Church when they experienced their respective outbreaks of infamy.

To appreciate Jimmy Savile’s place in English culture, imagine a combination of Dick Clark of “American Bandstand” and Jerry Lewis, maestro of the muscular dystrophy telethon. Savile was the longest-serving host of the immensely popular BBC music show “Top of the Pops,” and the star of another long-running show called “Jim’ll Fix It,” in which he pulled strings to grant the wishes of supplicants, mostly children. Like Sandusky, he buffed his reputation by throwing himself into charity work. Like Sandusky he seems to have used his philanthropy both to identify vulnerable children for his personal sport and to inoculate himself against suspicion. The good deeds helped earn Savile two knighthoods, one bestowed by the queen, the other by the pope. He was Sir Jimmy, confidant — or at least photo-op accessory — of royals, prime ministers, even Beatles.

Like Sandusky, he cultivated an aura of flamboyant eccentricity. The Penn State coach was a prankster and a knucklehead, a perpetual adolescent, which served as a plausibly benign explanation for all his prodding and grabbing. It was just Jerry being Jerry. Savile was a gregarious goofball who lived with his mother, and who sported a blond pageboy haircut, pink-tinted glasses, garish track suits and fat cigars. Being the man-child Pied Piper of the pubescent was his shtick, his job, and cover for a brutal cunning.

The testimony of his accusers describes what Malcolm Gladwell calls, in a shuddersome study of Sandusky’s ilk published in The New Yorker last month, “child-molester tradecraft.” You have “the subtle early maneuvers of victim selection,” the screening out of children who object or who are supervised closely by parents, the testing, ingratiating, “grooming” and “desensitizing the target with an ever-expanding touch,” the escalation of abuse.

Gossip about Savile’s fondling of young teenagers was rife, but never rose to a level deemed newsworthy during his life. But on Oct. 3 the investigative program “Exposure,” on the rival ITV network, aired a damning documentary. It included interviews with five women who described being sexually abused as teenagers and with colleagues who witnessed compromising behavior. After that, the deluge. London police now say they are pursuing more than 300 leads, and that they believe Savile abused girls as young as 13 over the course of four decades — in his BBC dressing room, in hospitals where he was a benefactor, in the back of his white Rolls-Royce.

It turns out that the BBC’s own investigative show, “Newsnight,” had also delved into Savile’s history, but ended up killing the program last December. It would have run a few weeks before a BBC holiday tribute to the memory of Jimmy Savile.

The BBC rides on the taxpayers’ subsidy — and at times rides a high horse — so the story has inspired some gloating. Media mogul and BBC-hater Rupert Murdoch, no doubt happy to have a distraction from the grubby behavior of his phone-hacking tabloids, found in the Savile uproar a chance to tweak two of his fiercest rival news organizations at once. He reminded his Twitter followers that the recent head of British Broadcasting, Mark Thompson, will soon take over as chief executive of The New York Times Company. “Look to new CEO to shake up NYT,” Murdoch tweeted, “unless recalled to BBC to explain latest scandal.”

So far no evidence has surfaced that Thompson, his successor or anyone else up top had anything to do with dropping the Savile documentary. (The BBC says it is investigating.) The editor of “Newsnight,” Peter Rippon, says he decided to shelve the program after prosecutors told “Newsnight” they had declined to bring a sexual abuse case against Savile “due to lack of evidence.” Whether the BBC fell short in its reporting and missed the story or had the story and lacked the nerve, it is a significant embarrassment, compounded by the hard question of why the widespread rumors of Savile’s behavior were ignored for so long.


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Real Role of These Rabbis - Cleaning The Toilets at Rikers Island!

There Are Sanduskys In Your Schools, Shuls & Neighborhoods!

Jerry Sandusky delivers one final hateful, haunting response to his victims!

BELLEFONTE, Pa. – Jerry Sandusky wore bright red jail garb on Tuesday, looking like a quarterback in practice, untouchable and protected.

Except Sandusky was about to get hit, a 30- to 60-year sentence coming from Judge John Cleland here at the Centre County Courthouse stemming from 45 guilty counts of sexual molestation. It's enough, given Pennsylvania's parole guidelines, to keep the 68-year-old Sandusky confined to prison for life.

Judge, defense and prosecution all agreed on that.

"Realistically, even if Jerry was to survive the 30 years, he won't be released," said Sandusky's own attorney, Joe Amendola.

Sandusky knew he was never going to be free again. He knew it that hot June night as the sheriff and a deputy hauled him away, a look of fright across his face, people shouting for him to rot in hell. Judging by his thinning frame, a result, his family said, of twice-a-day workouts in his isolation cell and a distaste for jail food, he's on his way to doing just that.

So, no, this crisp fall morning wasn't about a sentencing hearing, the outcome a mere formality.

Instead, the old Penn State defensive coordinator was determined to mount one last offense, to haunt his victims simply because he could.

"Touchdown Jerry," read an inspirational card of support from a former Second Mile kid who still loved Sandusky – or so Sandusky claimed when he read the card in open court during his long, rambling, delusional testimonial to himself.

Sandusky stood and spoke for about 15 minutes, and this setup was exactly what he wanted. He didn't take the stand at his trial, when he would have faced the wrath of deputy attorney general Joseph McGettigan on cross-examination. He's refused to sit for an interview with the media in recent months, where facts and pointed questions would unravel him. He already fumbled through a brief, impromptu session with Bob Costas where exact details weren't even broached.

No, this was perfect. Sandusky's was the final voice at the hearing, so he would talk and everyone would listen. Sandusky was in control, staring right at the judge about to condemn him, his words floating over a courtroom packed with the victims and the damn cops who finally got him, rows of reporters taking down every word.

No rebuttals. No tackles. Touchdown Jerry in practice red.

Jerry Sandusky was sentenced to at least 30 years in prison for molesting children. (Reuters)There was no acknowledgement of Sandusky's crimes, no apologies to the victims, no signs that he cared or even understood the path of destruction he left in his wake here. Sandusky maintained his innocence and vowed an appeal. Then he flaunted his depravity in open court.

Sandusky dismissed everything presented, every shred of evidence, every emotional witness-stand session. Three of his former victims mustered the courage to come and address him directly, and he responded with a dismissive smirk as he sat hunched over the defense table. Another victim came to the hearing and had a statement read by McGettigan.

The coach had a strategy, a two-part game plan and he was executing it. On Monday, Amendola instructed him that a sentencing hearing wasn't the time or place to attack witnesses and argue innocence. If he tried, Judge John Cleland would silence him on the spot.

Within hours, a pre-taped audio statement from jail was conveniently playing on Penn State's ComRadio. It allowed him to condemn the system, label everything a conspiracy and beg those with "the courage to listen" to "evaluate the accusers and their families." He then promptly did it for them, of course, labeling his victims as greedy, dishonest, disloyal, poor, trashy, troubled liars.

"An insult to human decency," McGettigan called Sandusky's statement.

"Like all conspiracy theories, it flows from the undeniable to the unbelievable," Judge Cleland scolded.

"You tried to attack us as if we had done something wrong," Victim No. 4 said to him directly. "You have no morals."

Another unwitting assault finished, Sandusky switched tactics for the second part of his plan.

Over and over he spoke about the good times of his life, the good visions of the past and about how no conviction, no sentence, no little isolated prison cell could take those memories from him. He spoke of saying that a friend had provided him a helpful saying to reflect on as he sits in a cell: "It doesn't matter what you look at, it's what you see."

"I look at those walls and I see light," Sandusky joyously declared. "I see letters of support, I see great memories. I see family and friends. I see those who overcame big obstacles."

You can't touch me, he was saying. You can't hurt me after I've lived such a righteous existence. These bars and walls and razor wire are powerless to that. Then, worst of all, he said he would remember more.

He would remember the kids.

"I see my throwing thousands of kids up in the air, hundreds of water balloon battles, happy times, people laughing with us," Sandusky said. "I see kids laughing and playing, and I see a loveable dog licking their face."

For decades, Sandusky used every manipulative trick to molest young boys, and he was trying the same here. To bring up his ruse of tossing prepubescent boys into the air – one of his first moves grooming new victims in the pool at the Second Mile camp for disadvantaged children that McGettigan calls a "victim factory" – was particularly cruel.

Sandusky would "kind of [pretend] like he was having trouble getting a good grip," Victim No. 4 described those pool sessions back at trial. "And as he was grabbing you, he would brush your genitals and then throw you."

Sandusky heard Victim 4's testimony on the witness stand a few months back. Now, he was flipping it around as the same guy was sitting right there in the gallery, forced to listen.

You bet Sandusky was going to remember all those throws in the air, all those troubles getting a grip, all those brushes of the genitals.

That was about the depth of his speech. A sick final spin on his conviction. Sandusky played martyr a bit and he expressed undying love for his family and friends who still visit him and make his life bearable. And he went on some pointless, self-absorbed spiels.

Sandusky said he will cherish the memories of his time with children at Second Mile. (Reuters)Mostly though he wanted everyone to know he would draw strength from the memory of his time with children, all the children, and all the memories, an unspoken nod to the horrors that haunt his grown victims. Go ahead and put him in prison, he was saying. He'll be thinking of them, reliving his time with them, enjoying a look back at every single act they experienced together.

What we call despicable and criminal, Jerry Sandusky calls a "blessed life."

Across the courtroom, Victim No. 6, the boy who Sandusky lured into a Penn State shower back in 1998, sat with his head down, intermittently weeping as Sandusky spoke. Earlier, the victim described Sandusky getting him naked under the running water and declaring himself the "'Tickle Monster,' so you could rub my 11-year-old body and get me to think that what you were doing was OK." The ensuing police investigation led to no charges. Sandusky continued. Now Victim No. 6 couldn't even bear to look up.

This was about seizing one final bit of control over the kids, the ones who have come forward and the ones who still remain silent. During the past year he did it over and over, whether it was waiving hearings at the final moment and forcing witnesses to prepare for nothing, or sitting with an ugly smug look as they testified about the sickest moments of their shattered lives.

This was a shrewd plan, and throughout this entire ordeal, of all the terrible things people said and proved Jerry Sandusky to be, no one ever claimed he wasn't remarkably intelligent, creative and cunning.

This was Sandusky bathing them in his narcissism, reminding everyone, and his victims in particular, that when he leans back on that prison bed, no matter how thin the mattress, uncomfortable the conditions or inedible the lunch, no can stop him from reliving it all.

He wanted them to know: They'll remain his. Forever. That part of Touchdown Jerry, clad in red, remains safe and secure.

"A most banal, self-delusional, completely-untethered-from-reality, entirely-self-focused-as-if-he-himself-was-the-victim," McGettigan said, blasting Sandusky's statement.

"It was, in short, ridiculous."

The only hope is that it wasn't effective, that it won't stick with those frightened kids who became powerful men, and that the hateful, harmful words of Jerry Sandusky just drifted off into the Bellefonte air, soon to be forgotten like the shrinking pathetic man they took away on Tuesday to die.


Sunday, October 07, 2012

Chag Sameach

"Tendler Looking For Work At The TSA" - Jewish Fress

Former priest hired by TSA to pat down passengers, three months after church kicked him out for 'molesting young girls'

....First he was fired for allegedly groping young girls, then hired to frisk them at an airport.

A disgraced former priest, defrocked from his New Jersey diocese over allegations of molestation in 2002, was three months later given a job as a TSA officer, it has been revealed.

Thomas Harkins was employed in a role where his duties would include doing pat downs on children, according to local news, after the agency failed to do a thorough background check and offered him a position at Philadelphia International Airport.

Thomas Harkins now works as a TSA officer, where his role involves patting down passengers

Had officials looked properly they would have discovered that the 65-year-old had been recently forced out of the priesthood after being accused of sexually abusing two grade-school girls.

But in the wake of the September 11 2001 terrorist attacks, the TSA said, an urgent need for agents meant that staff were being hired without being put under sufficient scrutiny.

50,000 workers were employed at the same time as Harkins, an unnamed TSA official told philly.com, many of whom went through without checks.

Hawkins was hired the following year, months after the alleged abuse scandal saw him ousted from the church, and proved so skilled at his new post that he even secured himself a promotion.

Although never prosecuted, after church-driven civil lawsuits were settled for $195,000, Harkins was barred from presenting himself as a priest, Camden diocese spokesperson Peter Feurherd told rawstory.com.

He was also banned from attending church services.

A third young girl, aged 11, has since filed a lawsuit claiming that she, too, was one of Harkins' victims Cbs Philadelphia reported.

She claims to have been abused by the former priest 10-15 times in 1980 and 1981, including incidents which took place in his bedroom in the rectory.

Getting wind of Harkins' posting, in 2003 the church wrote to the TSA, informing officials of the allegations made against Harkins, but still he remained on the payroll.

The TSA took no actions because 'an allegation alone does not warrant dismissal or automatically disqualify applicants from employment with the TSA,' spokesperson Ann Davis told philly.com.

Harkins is employed by the Philadelphia International Airport (pictured)

Harkins' current role at the airport involves overseeing screening operations for checked baggage and earns him a salary of $75,600-a-year.

He is one of 4,300 priests accused of molestation across the United States, according to bishop-accountability.org, a nonprofit that tracks clergy abuse.

'They should know who they’re hiring,' Karen Polesir, told Cbs. She is a Philadelphia spokeswoman with the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP).

'As the public, we are screened to our underwear getting on a plane, and yet they hire a man like that.'