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Israel the haven for international sex offenders.

A years-long delay in the extradition of an ultra-Orthodox educator, who fled to Israel from Australia after being accused of abusing her female students, has child protection advocates worried that Israel has become a haven for international sex offenders.

Malka Leifer, a dual Israeli-Australian citizen who from 2003 to 2008 served as principal of the Adass Israel Girls School in Melbourne, was accused of sexual abuse eight years ago. 

Only hours after the first accusations came to light, Leifer reportedly received funds and logistical help from members of her insular ultra-Orthodox community in Melbourne, which enabled her to fly to Israel in the dead of night along with her husband and five children.

Miriam Friedman, the director of Magen, an NGO which defends children at risk of sexual abuse in religious towns in Israel, said that alleged sex offenders from the international Jewish community have for years been taking advantage of Israel’s reputation for lax extradition practices.

“When an investigation is opened or suspicions start to circulate, abusers suddenly make aliyah—Jewish immigration to Israel—and Israel’s law of return makes it easy for them to pass under the radar because nobody asks questions about why they are coming,” said Friedman. Since 1950 the law has entitled every Jew worldwide to apply for Israeli citizenship.
But the Leifer case is unprecedented in that it takes “making a mockery of the Israel system to a new extreme,” Friedman said.
Leifer faces 74 criminal charges filed in Australian courts by at least nine girls but has repeatedly avoided court hearings over the past two years by checking herself into the hospital because of what she claimed were psychotic episodes and panic attacks.

The Israeli judge Amnon Cohen, currently in charge of the case, has questioned the authenticity of those claims, but since Israeli law forbids a psychologically unfit person from standing trial, for the past two years she has remained under house arrest in the ultra-Orthodox enclave of Bnei Brak in central Israel.

The most recent planned hearing was set for April 7 but was delayed because the court had not yet received the psychiatric evaluation it had requested. Leifer’s lawyers have pushed for the entire case to be thrown out because the hearings allegedly put her under pressure.
“She manipulated all of us into doing many things...and so she's manipulating the Israeli justice system, but even if she is suffering from those panic attacks and even if she is suffering from depression, what is that in comparison to what us victims are suffering every day?” said one of Leifer’s alleged victims who spoke under the name “Rebecca” in an interview with the Australian ABC news network aired Thursday night. 

Leifer comes from the tight-knit Adass Israel community founded originally by Holocaust survivors in the early 1940s and made up today of roughly 200 ultra-Orthodox families. Children at the school were forbidden from watching television, reading books that had not been pre-approved, or having any unnecessary contact with the secular world. 

“Rebecca,” said that she was first told to keep the accusations quiet, and was only allowed to make public her allegations when other girls began to come forward.
“It has been very, very long, for me and the other victims, it’s been torture, to be honest,” she said. “Day after day we’re waiting for the Israeli justice system to make this woman face her crimes.”

Australia’s Supreme Court has already awarded one of her former victims $1.27 million in compensation after it was ruled that Leifer had sexually abused the girl from 2003 to 2006 at the school grounds, at a camp, and at her private home.

“She would single out girls and take them off for private chats, they would be pulled out of lessons,” said Jack Rush, the Australian judge who presided over the case last September.

"She would take children from time to time to her own house, which a senior teacher at the school knew was occurring and seemingly never questioned the conduct because of Leifer’s standing in the Adass community.”

It makes me wonder whether the likes of Lord Janner and Leon Brittan who are both Zionists are still alive and living in Israel.

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