Batya Ungar-Sargon about Molesting in Her Review of Hush

Batya Ungar-Sargon  is the only writer in the secular English language press who came out swinging in defense of convicted pervert Nechemya Weberman. I found hints of her attitudes toward sex abuse in her April, 2011 review of Hush, the path-breaking young adult novel about sex abuse in the Hasidic world
by Eishes Chayil (Judy Brown).

Here are some of the things she wrote.

Dear World. A little helpful hint: do not tell me a story about rape that includes as one of its literary features any element of suspense

…one cannot simply avoid such books, as they often get rave reviews.

The narrator, who finds the dead little body, spends the rest of the book guilt ridden, though also accusatory, blaming the community for her guilt and thus somewhat lessening her own culpability. She gives herself a big break this way, and perhaps this is why she wrote the book.

Another thing that makes it hard for me to give these authors what they are trying to wheedle out of me is the obsession with catching the culprit.

The story of the criminal jumping out of the bushes and having sex with someone against their will is not a good story, which is why it doesn’t get told so much. But authors seem to expect us to drum up the same moral outrage for a domestic situation, when really, it’s so much more complicated.

 It’s sort of obvious that by the end of the book, we’re supposed to be thinking that Eishes Chayil HERSELF is the true victim. Hm.

It is possible to dismiss all this as insensitive, mediocre literary criticism by a graduate student in English literature at the University of California.  In fact, perhaps this is the best we can expect from a woman of her limited talents. But flash forward twenty months and she is writing about the Weberman trial for the The Jewish Daily Forward and reaching a 28,000 print subscribers. The subtitle of that article was, Brooklyn Prosecutors Took Aim at Hasidic Group’s Way of Life. Batya is bizarrely protective of Hasidic sex abuse though she disguises it in one case as literary criticism and in another as a critique of prosecutorial tactics.

Ungar-Sargon herself is of no consequence, though her insensitivity is quite shocking. But when she graduates from an obscure blog to   a major newspaper you have to wonder what was going on at the Forward?

Update 2-3-14: for some counterpoint check out this review  by the “Curious Jew” with some illustrative quotes.

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6 thoughts on “Batya Ungar-Sargon about Molesting in Her Review of Hush

  1. I recently left a post on the Forward comment section that followed her last article (actually, its the last one up there- no replies as of yet (sigh…)) Anyway, to reitterate: I’m glad the Forward publishes articles like Batya’s: I find it quite valuable to know how the “other side” is thinking about the issues that confront us, and I also enjoy the very pointed rebuttal that such commentary invariably precipitates. Exposing the sometimes egregious flaws in the opinions and arguments proffered by the “opposition” serves a dual purpose- it exposes them for what they are, for what they represent, and more importantly, allows the good guys to fortify their position as well.

    I think it was Mencken who said something to the effect of “bad writing is representative of bad thinking…”. That may be true, buy Batya is a pretty good writer, buy a lousey thinker on this particular issue. So be it; let the challenges, criticisms, and rejoinders to her articles fill up the commentary sections to the maximum limit. And besides, how boring it would be if everyone who attempted to submit their opinion agreed with everyone else? Batya- you go, girl- but don’t forget to protect your eyes from all of the potential shrapne.

    • She is not merely a lousy thinker. She is is dishonest in her argumentation because she leaves out critical facts, such as the facts about Satmar that had to be brought into the trial and sentencing to deal with their system of covering up crimes by intimidating and bribing and shaming victims.

  2. I could see her getting lot’s of HU$H money for what she just wrote, much more hush and hay than for her original book to hush it up. We now have two or more witnesses that are laundering facts on the ground, trying to do damage control at all cost to make it go away. First, they offered $500K to wish it away, then after losing miserably in a COURT OF JUSTICE, paid Ami loy Yechratz gelt whatever it takes, now having this turncoat Kateigor (Prosecutor) into a Saneigor (Defendant). When you are THAT desperate and the whole fifedom is at stake going feifen , you seek out one who wears a turncoat of many colors and can play DEVIL’S ADVOCATE, especially such a singing bird, that takes you under her wings, singing a different TUNE, and a BACKWARD dance, in a blink of an eye . Little does she know, that ein Keteigor na’asseh Sneigor whatever the case maybe, and that song and dance my friend, takes a LO…OTTA DOUGH, which at the end of the day is nothing more than blowing in the wind.

  3. YL- that’s just my point. She leaves out critical facts and slants the story so the bad guys are portrayed as victims- and she gets RIPPED for it. I think its great for all of the reasons mentioned previously

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