This past week an individual by the name of Tzvi-Hersh Starck of Jerusalem, released a blog post about the Malka Leifer case, hiding behind the alias “Yechezkel Hirshman”. Unlike most articles our readers have read about Leifer, Starck devoted the first part of his multi-paged diatribe to explaining why Leifer should be kept in Israel instead of being sent back to Australia to face the 74 counts of child sex abuse she has been charged with.
This is not the first time Starck has released a pseudo-halachic article arguing for the protection of a sex-abuser, which is revolting on its own. In general, his articles are so simple-minded, lacking in nuance, full of faulty assumptions clearly demonstrating he knows nothing about the facts of the cases he discusses, (or the phenomenon of sexual abuse in general), and ridiculous conclusions, that they are not worth dignifying with a response.
But Starck’s defense of a child sex abuser was the least disturbing part of his blog. In the second half, he crossed all red lines when he targeted, Dassi Erlich, one of the survivors in one of the most shocking public displays of victim blaming, mocking, and intimidation that we have ever seen.
Starck refers to the survivor as a “very troubled young woman” (having never met her, or even anyone who knows her). He draws a direct moral equivalence between the survivor and her abuser, referring to the survivor’s quest for justice as a “personal vendetta” and “predatory behavior”, which, he says, can’t be excused any more than the behavior of her abuser. He comments disparagingly on her personal family situation, and includes thinly- veiled implied threats of “…it looks like she wants to lose more…she is currently on a very destructive path by which she stands to lose everything” and “she is flirting with danger”. He repeatedly insults her, saying she has “no life of her own any more”, that “getting back at Malka Leifer is her only life”.
He patronisingly mocks her and then summarises it all by saying he is motivated by “a lot of Ahavas Yisrael”.
As if this wasn’t egregious enough, Starck then posted this horrible attack DIRECTLY ON THE SURVIVOR’S FACEBOOK PAGE.
While Starck has been writing about the Leifer case for a while, this time he was able to directly target the survivor because she bravely chose to come out publicly a number of months ago, joining a slowly-growing list of survivors who have chosen to forgo privacy and risk public skepticism and scrutiny for the sake of helping bring her abuser to justice and ultimately, inspiring other victims to speak out.
Let us be clear what has taken place here. Starck not only defended an abuser and argued that she should not face trial, he personally attacked and mocked a brave survivor of abuse and has harassed her on social media. And he did all this in the most cowardly way possible- using a fake name.
Starck has ignored our request to remove the post and cease re-victimizing a victim of child sex abuse, and continues to vehemently defend his position under the guise of Torah, Shulchan Aruch, and Halacha. For that reason, we now turn to you for help. We are sharing his information here in the hope that someone who reads this may know Starck and/or be able to influence him to stop attacking a survivor of abuse.
We have also included the information of Starck’s publisher – Mazo Publishers – and we ask you to contact them and respectfully ask that they pull his book: “One Above and Seven Below: A Consumer’s Guide to Orthodox Judaism from the Perspective of the Chareidim”
Let us be clear- we are in no way advocating for or condoning violence or threats of any kind against Hirshman/Starck. Our only goal is very clear- that he cease all public writing that directly targets victims, and that he be removed from the platform with which to preach his dangerous and damaging beliefs.
Hirshman/Starck’s email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please also show your support for Dassi Erlich by following her on Facebook.