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August 16, 1991 - Image 11

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1991-08-16

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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411111UP

UP FRONT

Child Abuse: Emerging
From The Shadows

LARRY DERFNER

Special to The Jewish News

A

n Israeli suspected of
cracking his son's
skull open was re-
cently released from police
custody by a judge here who
said the man was needed at
home to provide for his fami-
ly.
A class of Israeli police of-
ficers-in-training told child
abuse activists that yes, they
would arrest a father who
slaughtered his daughter's
puppy in front of her eyes,
but only because it con-
stituted cruelty to the dog,
not to the child.
The Israeli Broadcasting
Authority finally allowed an
innocuous public service
message on child abuse to go
on the air, after rejecting
seven other proposed spots
as too provocative.
"They weren't ashamed to
say that they didn't want to
upset the public," Dr.
Hanita Zimrin, founder of
the Israel Association for
Child Protection, said of her
recent confrontations with

Larry Derfner is a reporter in
Tel Aviv.

broadcast officials. "They
wanted to show a mother
hugging a child, and I told
them, 'I'm not talking about
hugging a child, I'm talking
about beating a child.' "
The notion of Jewish
mothers beating their chil-
dren, breaking their bones,
burning them or starving
them for days on end is

Israeli attitudes
toward child abuse
still have a long
way to go.

almost unthinkable. Yet Dr.
Zimrin says Israel is the
only country she knows of
where mothers, not fathers,
commit the majority of
physical abuse of children.
"In Jewish tradition, the
mother is in charge of the
family, of discipline and
punishment," she explains.
Israelis have had a hard
time getting used to the idea
that it's more than a one-in-a-
million Jewish psychopath
who batters or sexually
molests children. Their tra-
ditional attitude on child
abuse is that it's a gentile
sickness — Israeli parents

cherish their children too
much, they're too upright
and moral, and Judaism is
too humane ever to allow
such a horrible phenomenon
to take root here.
And, in fact, child abuse is
considerably lower in Israel
than in Western countries,
according to Dr. Zimrin.
Other reasons are the
relatively low levels of
alcoholism and drug abuse,
and the intense, almost
claustrophobic social life,
with friends, neighbors and
extended family members
keeping in constant touch
and dropping by one an-
other's homes unannounced.
Still, the estimate is that 1.5
percent of Israeli children —
about 30,000 boys and girls
— are abused, physically or
sexually.
Israeli attitudes towards
child abuse still have a long
way to go, but they also have
come a long way over the
last decade. The best il-
lustration of this is the reac-
tions to the two deaths from
child abuse that took place
during this time.
In 1983, Na'amed Dalai,
who was four, was kicked to
death by his father. The
newspapers gave it a few

paragraphs worth of atten-
tion; the court gave the
father three years in prison.
Today the father is back liv-
ing with his wife and other
kids.
Five years after Na'amad's
death, Moran Damias, also
four, was beaten to death -by
her uncle. By this time,
though, the papers saw fit to
put the story on the front
page and to follow it up for
days afterward. TV news
shows ran features on child
abuse, schoolteachers
discussed it with their

pupils, and Knesset mem-
bers deplored this "new"
horror of modern Israeli
society. The death of Moran
Damias became the turning
point in the country's
awareness of child abuse.
And when her uncle was
convicted of his crime, he
. didn't get three years in
prison, he got 20.
One of the myths about
child abuse in Israel is that
it is fed by the constant ten-
sion from terrorist attacks,
war and the threat of war.
Dr. Zimrin contends that in

ROUND UP

CAMERA Urges
Letters To NPR
CAMERA, the Committee
for Accuracy in Middle East
Reporting in America, is
asking listeners of National
Public Radio to write the
station and demand fair
coverage for Israel.
Twice in one day,
CAMERA reports, NPR
hosted programs in which
Israelis' treatment of Pales-
tinians was compared to the
Nazis' treatment of Jews.
In an interview with Liane
Hansen of "Weekend Edi-
tion," playwright Shauna
Kanter discussed her play
Pushing Through, which
tells two stories, one of Jews
in the Holocaust, the other of
Israelis tormenting Arabs.
In the interview Ms. Kanter
explained, "I am merely
comparing the stories of
violation of one's home, of
oppression, from the wo-
men's point of view."
That same day on
"Evening Edition," Israeli
journalist Avi Shavit spoke
of his experience guarding a

Palestinian internment
camp in Gaza. He said, "I
think that an Israeli Jew,
perhaps any Jew, being
brought up actually on this
traumatic collective
memory, cannot be indif-
ferent when he sees some-
thing that, on the face of it,
resembles a concentration
camp . . .I mean those
internment camps should
not exist anywhere, but they
certainly should not exist in
a Jewish state only 50 years
after the Holocaust."
According to a spokesman
for CAMERA, "NPR, as
usual, has chosen to inter-
view the exception, the
Israeli who would equate his
people with mass murderers.
Why, one wonders, does
NPR not present, say, one of
the 10,000 soldiers (who
served at the detention
camps) who might have ex-
plained to listeners the full
context of the camps?"
CAMERA is urging
listeners to remind NPR
that human rights violations
occur regularly in Syria,
Saudi Arabia, Iraq and other

Arab nations; that Israel-
Palestinian issues are not
the root cause of the Middle
East conflict; and that U.S.
law demands that federally
supported networks strictly
adhere to "objectivity and
balance in all programs or
series of programs of a con-
troversial nature."

Boycott Easy For
U.S. Companies
New York — American
companies that comply with
the Arab boycott of Israel
are getting off with light
penalties from the Internal
Revenue Service, according
to a report by the World Jew-
ish Congress.
The General Accounting
Office (GAO), the in-
vestigative arm of the U.S.
Congress, said that "tax
penalties appear to be
small" in cases it examined
of companies complying with
the boycott.
The GAO also said it had
found no evidence that any
business had been fined or
prosecuted for failing to file

IRS Form 5713, which must
be filed by any U.S. business
that operates in any of the
12 Arab nations that enforce
an economic embargo
against Israel.
The number of companies
filing Form 5713 reached a
peak of 3,781 in 1981 and
has dropped steadily, to
2,104 in 1986.

Moldavia Opens
Jewish Day School
Kishinev — The first state-
sponsored Jewish day school
in the history of Soviet
Moldavia will begin classes
in Kishinev in the fall.
More than 300 boys and
girls already have registered
for the secular and Jewish
studies classes that will be
offered beginning later this
month. The Jewish studies
program, including inten-
sive Hebrew language
courses especially intended
for students whose families
plan to settle in Israel, will
be supervised by members of
the Lubavitch educational
system. Secular studies will

Yaakov Weiselbuch, president of
the Kishinev Jewish community;
Moldavia's Chief Rabbi Zalman
Hirsh Leib; and Mircha Druk,
prime minister of Moldavia at the
Kishinev synagogue.

be regulated by the local
board of education, and the
government will pay for all
teachers' salaries.
The Moldavian govern-
ment was the first in the
Soviet Union to approve
public displays of Jewish re-
ligious symbols and give
permits for parades
celebrating religious holi-
days.

Compiled by
Elizabeth Applebaum

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

11

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