It’s a brave person to admit publicly they’ve been the victim of sexual abuse. Making this admission in a small close-knit community is even more courageous; few do it.
Manny Waks has shown he’s a person who stands by his convictions, someone not afraid to say it how it is. Forthrightness is a quality I admire.
In Manny’s response to the statements from Yeshivah and the JCCV, he makes some comments that are especially insightful.
While Yeshivah’s reluctance to fully cooperate with the investigation is somewhat understandable as it attempts to maintain its reputation – although completely unacceptable – the JCCV’s silence on this issue has been bewildering and outrageous. It indicates that there is a major gap in leadership in the Victorian Jewish community. No one was willing to stand up when it counted – this from an organisation that claims to be the voice of Victorian Jewry.
No victim would be interested in seeking assistance or support from an organisation that lacks moral leadership. Furthermore, the JCCV’s recommendation to seek assistance and support also from the Jewish Taskforce Against Family Violence, a group that has proved itself to be primarily a Yeshivah apologist, is further alienating.
What is most revealing about Manny’s observation of the JCCV is that it parallels my experience with the same organisation. This confirms to me that there are some fundamental deficiencies with the JCCV. Address these and we can start to identify and then tackle the underlying harms that exist within the community, rather than just remedy them in a superficial manner.
JCCV President John Searle claims that psychological abuse of children is abhorrent, yet personally enables this very abuse of children by endorsing intolerance of homosexuality in sections of the Victorian Jewish community.
In a sluggish response to the unfolding child sex abuse scandal rocking the Melbourne Jewish community (The Age, Jun 22 2011; Galus Australis, Jul 5 2011; The Age, Jul 8 2011) , the Jewish Community Council of Victoria released a statement on the matter on July 13 2011. The opening paragraph states:
The Jewish Community Council of Victoria is disturbed by the recent allegations of sexual abuse at Yeshivah College. JCCV President, John Searle said, “we abhor the abuse of children in any way, be it physical, sexual, emotional or psychological, and particularly when it is perpetrated by those in positions of trust and authority at our communal institutions”.
Sadly, I know these words are, in part, entirely disingenuous simply because the JCCV president personally endorses the specific form of psychological abuse of children that manifests itself as the intolerance of homosexuality. He has told me face to face that it is completely acceptable for [Orthodox] Judaism to perpetuate a dogmatically justified stance on the matter.
I have stated previously and will reiterate findings of relevant research:
Studies conducted over the last decade reveal that GLB individuals attempt suicide at rates between 3.5 and 14 times those of their heterosexual peers
Those belonging to religious faiths that promulgate negative discourses about homosexuality are particularly vulnerable to suicide and self-harm. Conflicts between spiritual or religious beliefs and sexuality can result in significant psychological dissonance as well as division and exclusion from family, friends and community.
How much longer will we have to put up with the vacuous platitudes of this ego-driven individual, who by his very silence on this matter is further enabling the horrific abuse of children in large sections of the Jewish community?