With the latest in a series of child sexual abuse allegations against prominent members of society, Alan Dershowitz is also entitled to just that; innocent until proven guilty.
The response to these recent allegations by Dershowitz’s friend Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, however, is astounding and damaging.
Boteach spends the first four paragraphs highlighting Dershowitz’s staunch defence of Israel. Ultimately Boteach asks, as per the title of his oped, ‘Where are the Jews to Defend Alan Dershowitz?’
Apparently because Dershowitz has proven himself to be one of the most staunch and effective pro-Israel advocates, and because he is apparently one of the greatest criminal defence attorneys of his generation, we should all defend him publicly now.
This line of argument demonstrates clear ignorance on the part of Boteach.
I have no idea whether or not Dershowitz is guilty of these alleged crimes. It is now being addressed in court. In my opinion, the complainant is entitled to make her allegations and Dershowitz is entitled to defend himself – of course as long as this is done within the legal constraints.
What Boteach seems to overlook is one of the most critical points in the area of child sexual abuse. Predators typically place themselves in positions of power and authority. They do so as a future defence mechanism; so when allegations about them surface, they would be dismissed by many. “He was on the board of X organisation for many years,” “He has a beautiful family,” “He has such an impressive career,” “He is a philanthropist who has helped the downtrodden,” “He is such a nice guy,” “He is a celebrity”….”He has been Israel’s greatest advocate.”
It seems to me that by lamenting the fact that these allegations are emboldening the antisemites and the anti-Israel activists, Dershowitz is not helping his cause either. This is completely unrelated to the allegations.
Sadly, both Boteach and Dershowitz have now turned this saga into a Jewish and Israel issue. It did not have to be this way. It should not have been this way.
We all have the prerogative to support whomever we want. It is understandable that Boteach supports his friend and fellow pro-Israel advocate. But issuing this public call to arms based mainly on a completely unrelated, ideological point of view is astounding and damaging.
It is an attack on most if not all those making allegations of child sexual abuse. It sends the following clear message: If you dare allege that a prominent member of society sexually abused you, you are up against the rest of us.
There are reasons why only around 10% of child sexual abuse victims ever disclose the abuse they endured. And there are reasons why on average it takes 25 years to disclose this abuse – for the courageous few that ultimately do.
And Boteach has just illustrated one of the most important reasons for these dire statistics.
He should withdraw his offensive article and apologise.