Jewish leaders outraged on latest Leifer setback

October 4, 2019 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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Jewish community leaders in Australia have expressed outrage at the latest setbacks in the bid to extradite Malka Leifer from Israel to Australia to face 74 charges involving allegations that she sexually abused at least eight pupils under care while she was principal of the Adass Israel school in Melbourne.

Malka Leifer

On 23 September 2019, Judge Chana Lomp of the Jerusalem District Court ordered that Leifer submits to yet another round of psychiatric tests to ascertain her mental capacity to stand trial. There have already been more than 30 such tests. Those seeking Leifer’s extradition have produced evidence to suggest that she has been feigning mental incapacity to avoid extradition.

The case has come before the court more than 50 times.  Israel’s Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman has been accused by Israeli police of seeking to influence at least one psychiatrist in Leifer’s favour.  Litzman and Leifer are both members of the Gur Chasidic sect.

On 2 October 2019, Israeli Judge Ram Winograd ordered that Leifer be released from prison, where she was being held pending the outcome of the case, and allowed to remain in home detention with her sister.

Anton Block, President of The Executive Council of Australian Jewry, the peak national body representing the Australian Jewish community, described the delays in the case and the allegations of political interference as “a standing indictment of Israel’s justice system”.

“These developments are adding to the trauma and pain already endured by former pupils of Leifer whom she allegedly subjected to sexual abuse”, Mr Block said.“They have been incredibly brave and dignified in campaigning for Leifer’s extradition.  They are entitled to justice, and they are entitled to it now”.

“We commended Federal Attorney-General Christian Porter for undertaking to raise the matter personally with his Israeli counterpart when he visits Israel later this year”, Mr Block added. “We would also like Prime Minister Scott Morrison to raise the issue, as his predecessor did.”

Mr Block noted that the ongoing denial of justice to Leifer’s accusers is also causing pain to Israel’s many friends and supporters in Australia.  “When present and former political leaders in Australia who have been long-standing supporters of Israel take the Israeli justice system to task over its handling of this case, then it’s time for the acting government in Israel to take notice and act.  The approach of Yom Kippur would seem like an especially appropriate time for a turn away from injustice towards justice”, he concluded.

The executive director of The Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council Dr Colin Rubenstein told J-Wire: “The Jerusalem District Court’s decision to release former Adass Israel principal and alleged paedophile Malka Leifer to house arrest earlier this week, while temporarily stayed by a higher court, was extremely disappointing, given the repeated delays and lack of closure endured by her alleged victims to date.

However, it is heartening to see that senior Israeli leadership, including the State Prosecutor and the Israeli Ambassador to Australia, acknowledge the unnecessarily lengthy delays in the extradition proceedings against her. Leifer must face a Victorian court to answer the heinous allegations against her as soon as possible. Anything less is totally unacceptable.

The Zionist Federation of Australia has welcomed the development that Leifer will remain in custody for the time being but we will wait to hear the outcome of the appeal before commenting further.

The Liberal member for Wentworth Dave Sharma is a former Australian ambassador to Israel. He said of the original bail decision: “This is an exceptionally disappointing development, which defies explanation. Australia is committed to seeing justice done in this case, and we will not rest until it is.”

He told media: “I would say it is very important that Israel knows at all levels that this is an important case for Australia,

It is one that we will not let rest and it is one that is increasingly having an impact on bilateral relations and how Israel is viewed and perceived in Australia.

It becomes a focal point for the Australia-­Israel relationship and risks undermining public support for the broad and wide-ranging relationship with Israel, because it is seen that Israel is not co-operating with us on an issue that is important to us.

I think it is poor for Israel reputationally because no country wants to get a reputation as being a safe haven for sexual fugitives, which is the way this is heading.”

Dave Sharma has held discussions with Israel’s ambassador to Australia Mark Sofer.

The Premier of Victoria Daniel Andrews has written Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

 

Comments

One Response to “Jewish leaders outraged on latest Leifer setback”
  1. Lynne Newington says:

    Advocate Ted Baillieu couldn’t have put it better in his statement that it does the Jewish community here and in Israel an injustice.

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