The TSA’s airport regimen has been derided as security theater. It is bumbling, intrusive, and only minimally effective (compared to the skillful handling of security by El Al Airlines). At best, at enormous cost, terrorism has not so much been reduced as moved from airlines to other venues like malls, movie theaters, and the streets. But politicians love it, just as they love our absurdly high levels of imprisonment. These measures may not work, but they convince the public that government is protecting them.
Agudath Israel also plays that game when it comes to children’s safety. The single greatest danger to ultra orthodox children comes from sex abuse which probably impacts 10-20 percent of all children before they reach adulthood. I say probably because I am extrapolating from research about the general public. I would love to have better statistics about the orthodox world, but generating them would require orthodox cooperation with such a research project, something the orthodox leadership will not allow. Their media spokesman, Avi Shafran insists that orthodox rates must be lower because of their fear of heaven. But if they were really that confident they would promote such research.
Agudath Israel obstructs all sorts of measures to reduce sex abuse by discouraging reporting, weakening legal measures to facilitate prosecution of sex offenders, and by continuing to honor leaders involved in covering up sex abuse such as Rabbi Lipa Margulies, head of Yeshiva Torah Temimah in Brooklyn, who knowingly harbored a serially offending teacher, Rabbi Yehuda Kolko.
But this week, David Zweibel, Executive Vice President of Agudath Israel was pleased to tell his constituents he lobbied to get police school safety officers into Jewish schools. (See image from his message in an email, below)
Rabbi Zweibel, let’s get real. Outside intruders, armed students, and drug dealers are lesser threats to the safety of orthodox school children. If you really care so much about the safety of these children, why not lobby your schools to conduct criminal screenings of all employees, something you can do with fingerprinting under NYS law. In 2010 only one Jewish school, the modern orthodox North Shore Hebrew Academy in Great Neck, had submitted fingerprints. Yet all the Catholic schools had. To the best of my information, nothing has changed since then.
If child safety weren’t so serious, I would laugh every time I hear Agudath Israel talk about it.