Monday, January 27, 1992

Questions to ask yourself before disclosing, confronting or going public

Questions to ask yourself before disclosing, confronting or going public
© (1992, Revised 2006) By Vicki Polin, MA, ATR, LCPC, NCC

Survivors of various forms of sexual violence (childhood sexual abuse, sexual assault, clergy abuse, professional sexual misconduct and sexual harassment) often want to disclose their experiences, confront their perpetrators, and/or speak-out about their victimization. This is done in an attempt to try to help educate the public. Often the urge to share personal information about one self occurs during various stages of healing. 

If you are considering speaking out PLEASE review the many questions listed in this pamphlet. You may also want to refer to "The Courage to Heal" (by Laura Davis and Ellen Bass) and "The Courage to Heal Workbook" (by Laura Davis). It is also highly suggested that you consult with your family, friends and or therapist prior to speaking engagements.
Unfortunately, the reality is that our society has NOT been very accepting and/or understanding to the various issues faced by many adult survivors of sexual violence. The majority of the survivors who have confronted individuals, and/or have gone public -- shared that they had negative experiences after sharing their abuse histories with others. These survivors have all been met with disbelief -- been considered to be crazy, hysterical and/or delusional. Too often survivors state that after the disclosures, they felt that they have lost a level of credibility. 

We, as survivors can not be responsible for the reactions of others. What we can do is take control of our actions and be prepared for the outcome if we decide to share our histories with others. It is vital for each individual decide for him/her self, and be sure that they are not being pressured to going public. This is a reminder that once you share information about yourself -- you can NOT take it back! 

If you thinking about going public, it is important to consider how you are going to do it.
  • Are you going to use your real name or a pseudonym?
  • Will you wear a disguise of some sort?
  • Will you be paid? How much?
  • If you are going on television will the producer of the show agree in writing to use a computer and distort both your voice and face (this is strongly suggested for the beginner)?
  • Will you have to sign a contract or an agreement? What will it say? It is strongly suggested you read the agreement BEFORE the day you are supposed to speak-out (and if possible have an attorney review it too)!
  • Will your attempt to educate the public cause harm to your credibility? Are you allowing yourself to be exploited?
  • Will it hurt you in your present or future career, social life, family life (including your spouse and children)?
The Following are some questions you can ask yourself to help you make up your mind if disclosing, confronting and/or going public is right for you.
Directions: Answer the following questions on a separate piece of paper. Think about the following questions and your answers. Share your responses with at least one trusted support person. Ask for Feedback! BEFORE you disclose and/or confront someone.
  1. Whom do I want to tell? Why?
  2. Is someone or something internally/externally pressuring me to disclose my abuse history or confront my perpetrator(s)? Who and/or What is pressuring me?
  3. If my plans includes going public, what are my motives? (It's suggested you consider all of the following questions before speaking in any public forum).
  4. What do I hope to gain from this disclosure and/or confrontation? What could I loose by this disclosure and/or confrontation? Are my expectations realistic?
  5. Have I thought about safety issues? What are they for me?
  6. What are my motives for confronting my perpetrators? Do I have to be concerned about my safety?
  7. Am I confronting my perpetrator(s) to gain information? Can anyone else supply me with the information I desire?
  8. Would I be risking something I still want from my family (i.e. financial and/or emotional support, inheritance, employment in family business, other)?
  9. Could I live with the possibility of being excluded from family gatherings (i.e. Holidays, Weddings, Deaths in my family. . .)? What would that mean to me? How would I deal with the loss?
  10. Am I willing to take the risk of losing contact with other family members with whom I want to stay connected? What would that mean? Would I deal with the loss?
  11.  Am I grounded and stable enough to risk being called crazy?
  12. Could I maintain my own reality in the face of denial?
  13. Can I withstand the anger that I am likely to face from others?
  14. Could I handle my own anger and/or other feelings? How would I do that?
  15. Could I handle no reaction at all?
  16. Do I have a solid enough support system to back me up before, during and after the confrontation?
  17. Which support people agreed to be available before, during, and after?
  18. Can I realistically imagine both the worst and best outcomes that might result? Could I live with either one?
  19. How have I prepared myself for the Confrontation and/or disclosure?
  20. Other issues I've considered regarding confronting or disclosing my abuse to others. 

Remember: It is important that you focus on yourself and your own personal needs before deciding to go disclose, confront and/or go public. This is also true before, during and after any confrontation. Try to remember what you want or need to say (for your own personal needs and not anyone else's), how you want to handle the situation, rather than on any response you may hope to get. Plan to process the confrontation and/or disclosure with your therapist and/or trusted support person(s). Remember, this can be an ongoing task (and that's ok).

Thursday, January 23, 1992

Case of Dahn Ben Amotz

Case of Dahn Ben Amotz
(AKA: Moshe Tehilimzeigger)

Jaffa, Israel
Tel Aviv, Israel 
Rowne, Poland (Ukraine)

(April 13, 1924 - October 20, 1989)

Allegations were made that Dahn Ben Amotz was a serial sexual predator, who allegedly molested 12 to 13-year-old girls which whom he lured to his seaside apartment, drugged and raped. 

Through out his alleged rein of terror, it was reported everyone close to him knew of Ben Amotz's reputation "as being the legendary ladies' man".

According reports Ben Amotz stated he was an incest survivor, with his mother being his offender.  

Amotz was born in Rowne, Poland on April 13, 1924.  Both of his parents died during the holocaust.  At the age of 14, he migrated to Israel in 1938.

Disclaimer: Inclusion in this website does not constitute a recommendation or endorsement. Individuals must decide for themselves if the resources meet their own personal needs.

Table of Contents: 

  1. Dahn Ben-Amotz, Israeli Author, 65 (10/22/1989)

  1. Police May Probe Ben-Amotz Sex Claims  (01/14/1992)
  2. Talk Of The Town (01/17/1992)
  3. Ansky Sues Dankner for NIS 500,000 (01/17/1992)
  4. A Shock in the Mirror (01/23/1992)
  5. Police Weighing Probe on Ben-Amotz Biography  (01/23/1992)
  6. Bad Taste on TV (01/24/1992)

  1. Ansky Drops Libel Suit (05/19/1993)

  1. Exhumed and exposed (02/29/1994)

  1. Woman charges book about Ben-Amotz ruined her life (01/27/1995)
  2. Libel suit against Amnon Dankner settled (02/08/1995)

  1.  Reading From Right To Left (02/02/1996)

  1. Breaking the haredi 'conspiracy of silence' on domestic abuse (04/11/2008)



Dahn Ben-Amotz, Israeli Author, 65
New York Times - October 22, 1989 

Dahn Ben-Amotz, a novelist, playwright and journalist who was a leading figure in Israeli culture for several decades, died of liver cancer on Friday at his home in the Jaffa section of Tel Aviv. He was 65 years old.

Mr. Ben-Amotz, who changed his name from Moishe Tehilimzuger after he emigrated from his native Poland to Palestine in 1938, lost his parents in the Holocaust. After World War II, he was active in the Jewish underground in Palestine.

Mr. Ben-Amotz, who wrote a daily column for several Israeli newspapers, is credited with pushing modern Hebrew into the cultural mainstream and creating the image of the Sabra - a tough yet compassionate Israeli native. He was the author of several books and plays, including a novel about the Holocaust, ''To Remember and to Forget,'' published in 1968.

He is survived by two sons, Pico, of Manhattan, and Dor, of Indianapolis, and two daughters, Noah, of Nashville, and Naomi, of Tel Aviv.


Police May Probe Ben-Amotz Sex Claims 
Sarah Honig
Jerusalem Post - January 14, 1992

Police are considering an investigation into published claims that deceased cult-figure Dahn Ben-Amotz had sex with girls as young as 12, Inspector-General Ya'akov Terner said yesterday. 

"At the moment, the police are not investigating," Terner told Ma'ariv. "After I read the material, we will decide what to do. If a formal complaint is filed, we will treat it as we would any other complaint." 

The National Religious Party yesterday demanded that police and Attorney-General Yosef Harish investigate the claims in journalist Amnon Dankner's new biography. 

Ben-Amotz, an author who died two years ago, was a leading left-wing iconoclastic trend-setter for his generation. Now, a lurid biography of the Jaffa bohemian cult-figure, penned by his friend Dankner, charges that Ben-Amotz often had sex with pre-teen girls - not always willing partners. 

The book - which was the talk of Tel Aviv even before it hit the stands this week - is crammed with lascivious revelations, including one of an alleged incestuous relationship which Ben-Amotz had with his mother in Europe when he himself was just 13. 

In some ways, what Dankner wrote corroborates earlier suspicions. Ben-Amotz was in fact convicted at one time of having had intercourse with a girl of 12. 

But the Dankner book goes far beyond Ben-Amotz's acknowledged "dirty old man" image. It names names, details numerous incidents and also supplies the identities of those who, Dankner claims, knew but preferred to keep silent, possibly so as not to fall out of favor in the influential closed-club intellectual circle which Ben-Amotz commanded. 

The NRP now insists that while Ben-Amotz can no longer be brought to justice, the attorney-general should look into the possibility of investigating some of the luminaries whom Dankner fingers. 

"Such prominent people cannot be exonerated and their conduct dismissed," the party declared. "We are dealing with some of the worst child-abuse crimes, to which persons who pose as the nation's conscience and opinion-molders chose to turn a blind eye." 

Similar opinions had been voiced by women's organizations and groups for the protection of abused children. "The most objectionable parts of the story are not so much the deeds ascribed to Ben-Amotz, foul though they be, but the fact that close so-called friends could compromise and sacrifice the safety and well-being of young children by covering up," said Hanita Zimmerman, a leading anti-child abuse campaigner. 

The Religious Teachers Union called on the Ministry of Education to remove Ben-Amotz's books from school curriculums and libraries "in view of his obscene life-style and his exploitation of young girls' naivete. This man is the last our educational system should uphold as a role model for young children." 

One of those Dankner names as an accessory-after-the-fact is media celebrity Alex Anski. Anski, however, hotly denied Dankner's allegations yesterday, saying: "They are an utter calumny and a figment of Dankner's imagination. I have no idea why my name was dragged into this sordid affair, a fact which has wronged me and caused me great anguish through no fault of my own." 

Legal experts believe it would be next to impossible to successfully prosecute alleged accessories to Ben-Amotz's reported offenses, or for libel actions against Dankner to succeed. 

The truth would be impossible to establish, they said, since, no one would be able to prove that Ben-Amotz had not confided his darkest secrets to Dankner before his death. Moreover, even had he done so, they suggested, Ben-Amotz would not necessarily have told his biographer the truth.


Talk Of The Town
By A.B. Safrai
Jerusalem Post - January 17, 1992 

By the time Dahn Ben-Amotz, ne Mojsze Tilemzajger ("Psalm-reciter"), passed away at age 66, in October 1989, his title to a niche, however modest, in the national pantheon had seemed assured. The copious if somewhat cloying eulogies showered on him during a last, self-arranged and well-recorded farewell party from his friends, seemed to signify the certainty of his posthumous passage to the hall of enduring fame. 

In his time, Ben-Amotz was considered one of the most versatile, protean, many-faced, charisma-wreathed performers on the public stage. Fecund writer, razor-edged journalist, sometime actor, full-time Casanova, bon vivant, champion of Hebrew slang, golus-boy self-remade into the archetypal sabra - he was recognized as a potent force in, as it were, freeing the Israeli mind from the constraints of outworn decorum. 

He did, it is true, have a brush with the law once, over his free-and-easy handling of young females. But that was easily smoothed over. 

LAST WEEK a 400-page biography of Dahn, appropriately titled Dahn Ben-Amotz, composed by one of his erstwhile friends, writer-and-journalist Amnon Dankner, was brought out by Keter. Word had already gotten around that it was something special, a genuinely muck-raking, no-holds-barred expose, and the public, and more important the media, both print and electronic, were ready. 

On January 10, the Friday after the Wednesday on which the book became available for purchase, the Hebrew press was awash with lengthy and fairly unanimously sympathetic interviews with the author - done by the cream of the profession, nearly all of them former friends of Dahn and of his biographer, although one such interview was conducted by Dankner with himself - beside shorter, and for the most part rather less sympathetic comments on (not yet reviews of) the book, its subject and its author. 

There was, in any case, general agreement that Dankner was right in portraying his man as not merely a libertine, but as a vile monster, one who might protest that Screwing isn't Everything - the title of one of his books - but in fact believed it is. Now that was the sign for the book-buying public to rush and fetch Dahn Ben-Amotz. By Sunday 10,000 hard-cover copies were snapped up, at NIS 36 each, and 5,000 more were ordered. 

IN AN "Afterword" penned only last month Dankner says, in effect, that he did not intend to do what he did. He had embarked on his journey in the hope of finding "my good, charming, generous, dead friend." Recalling the charmingly monstrous figure of Harry Lime crawling through the sewers of Vienna in Carol Reed's film, The Third Man - a film Ben-Amotz had loved and even cribbed from - Dankner adds: "In the sewers of his {Ben-Amotz's} life I found his terrifyingly monstrous side." 

There is a touch of contrition in this disclaimer of responsibility for the outcome of his journey. But there is also the biographer's pride in having plumbed the deepest, seamiest depths of his hero's moral universe, courageously and unflinchingly, even in the face of initial refusal by friends and relations to be interviewed. 

This ambivalence in Dankner's attitude may partly be due to the fact that the book was not his own original idea. The idea originated with Keter's one-time editor-in-chief, Niva Lanir, when she found out from Ben-Amotz that he was terminally ill with cancer. Ben-Amotz approved of the project, and named Dankner as the biographer. Dankner accepted the assignment, and Ben-Amotz promised to tell Dankner all, or almost all. 

The reservation concerned one terrible secret which Ben-Amotz could not bring himself to divulge even to his hand-picked biographer. In time Dankner discovered it, and Ben-Amotz is said to have broken into hysterics on being so informed. He had, of course, been tossing hints of it, like confetti, throughout his writings. 

The secret: As a 12-year-old boy called "Moussia," in his native Poland, he was repeatedly seduced by his mother into having sex with her. Moussia's immediate "punishment" for being found out was deportation to Eretz Yisrael. His long-term penalty for the abomination he had committed was, presumably, a gargantuan sexual appetite which developed, as he grew older, into an irresistible urge to have sex with underage girls - even, indeed especially - if they were 12 years old. 

He would not, for he need not, rape them. He would merely charm them into his bed, on occasion offering them drugs. If, or rather when, the going proved hard, he could bank on assistance from persuasive groupies, mostly but not exclusively older women. 

WORSE instances of human depravity have admittedly been recorded in literature (see Sade, or Selby). But these abominations were supposed to have been perpetrated right on our very doorstep, and by a national celebrity. That was a bit too much to stomach. 

Yet were Dankner's allegations unalloyed fact or were they, perhaps, at least in part, sheer fiction? Dankner's methods, even motives, were soon attacked, particularly after some of those fingered as Ben-Amotz's accomplices charged libel and threatened legal action. Alternatively, the question was asked whether Dahn's gang did not include friends, such as Dankner, who ought to have known the truth, and do something about it. Perhaps, it was suggested, the police should look into the matter. In the meantime people seemed to talk of practically nothing else. 

The best view of the book to date might be the one aired early on by Tom (The Seventh Million) Segev, in Ha'aretz, what Dankner wrought is "a pornographic, self-righteous and unnecessary biography." Unnecessary, because the understanding of Dahn Ben-Amotz, a second-rate writer and journalist, which Dankner himself concedes he was, doesn't justify a book-size, clinically detailed examination of his sex life. 

So much, for the moment, for the tottering idol. 

Ansky Sues Dankner for NIS 500,000
By Itim
Jerusalem Post - January 17, 1992  

The first libel suit over author Amnon Dankner's just-published biography of Dahn Ben-Amotz was filed yesterday in Tel Aviv District Court by radio personality Alex Ansky. 

Ansky, who is also a journalist and stage actor, is suing Dankner and his publisher (Maxwell-MacMillan-Keter) for NIS 500,000. A defense brief has not yet been filed. 

In the book Dankner describes Ansky as being present when Ben-Amotz had sex with a 13-year-old girl. Ansky rejects this as an outright lie, the product of Dankner's imagination. 

Ansky charges in his suit that he has been sacrificed to ensure the success of the book's sales campaign. He notes that, ever since publication, he has been plagued with viscious phone calls and his good name has been publicly dragged through the mud. 

He also accuses the publisher of misleading the reader by printing an acknowledgement in the preface thanking him for his "weekly encouragement, help, and good advice" in the production of the book.


A Shock in the Mirror
By Ze'ev Chafets

The Jerusalem Report - January 23, 1992, SECTION: Pg. 20

If a Palestinian state had been established this week, no one in Tel Aviv would have noticed; people were too busy reading and gossiping about Amnon Dankner's shocking new biography of the late Dahn Ben Amotz.

The book was, as they say in publishing circles, eagerly awaited; Ben Amotz was, after all, one of the most famous and intriguing cultural figures this country has ever seen. Moreover, his life was dramatic and improbable enough to make him a biographer's dream. Ben Amotz was a Polish-born immigrant who arrived here at age 13 and reinvented himself as the quintessentia l sabra; a Palmah veteran who became a prominent peacenik; an international celebrity whose friends included Marlon Brando, Shelly Winters and other Hollywood luminaries; and a man with so much talent and creativity that he had half a dozen successful careers - radio star, journalist, film actor, artist, linguist and best-selling novelist.

His performances on the famous "Three in One Boat" radio program (at a time when Israel had no television) helped define Israeli humor. He was one of the first local authors to break away from formal Hebrew and write the language as it is spoken in the streets. His dictionary of Israeli slang, written with Netivah Ben-Yehudah, remains a classic. And his fiction, while not particularly artful, set new standards of sexual frankness in the puritanical Israel of the 50s and 60s.

Impressive as his accomplishments were, Dahn Ben Amotz's real importance was as a symbol of his generation, the generation of the War of Independence. With great charm, wit and good humor he presented his countrymen and the world with a curly haired, blue-eyed model of the Real Israeli, a man of contemplation and action, a figure who combined a finely honed moral conscience toward Israel's Arab adversaries with a stubborn insistence on personal freedom.

At the now-legendary good-bye party that Ben Amotz, just before his death from cancer, threw for himself, columnist Amnon Dankner told the assembled guests, who comprised a cultural and political Who's Who of the secular elite, that Dahn was a mirror in which sabra society had watched itself change and grow. Dankner spoke that afternoon not simply as a friend, but as Ben Amotz's authorized biographer; but he had no idea, at the beginning of his research, that the mirror would produce a distorted image, and that his subject would emerge as a pedophile, a man who combed Tel Aviv and Jaffa for 12- and 13-year-old girls whom he lured to his seaside apartment, drugged and seduced. Everyone, of course, knew of Ben Amotz's reputation as a legendary ladies' man, but it was Dankner who discovered that many of the "ladies" were, in fact, lost, confused little girls.

There are other sensational revelations in the book as well: That Ben Amotz's first sexual encounter was an incestuous affair with his mother; that he used his "girlfriends" as volunteer pimps, or to provide sexual services to his guests; that he seriously contemplated sleeping with his teenaged daughter and eventually offered her to a close friend. There are also stories of almost unbelievable cruelty, callousness and stinginess. The reflection in Dankner's mirror is not that of a lovable artist, much less an ideal sabra; it is the face of a dangerous pervert.

Naturally these revelations have caused serious embarrassment among Dahn Ben Amotz's admirers, who include some of Israel's most prominent secular moralists (at his farewell party, he was eulogized by Amos Oz, Amos Kenan and Uri Avnery, among others), and it is well deserved. Dahn Ben Amotz was more than just a celebrity with a bad character. He was a culture hero, a member in good standing of the left-wing intelligentsia and, toward the end of his life, even something of a guru. The fact that he was taken seriously by so many supposedly serious people, and beloved by so many more, indicates, at best, a bad case of moral myopia.

Orthodox circles are now gleefully pointing to Dahn Ben Amotz as Exhibit A in their case that godless liberalism leads inevitably to immorality. The rabbis are mistaken, but their reaction is both understandable (imagine how we would react to similar revelations about a well-regarded religious figure) and, I think, useful. The intellectual elite of this country too often confuses political correctness with character, and sociability with social responsiblity. Corrupt rabbis make inviting targets, but Dankner's life of Dahn Ben Amotz provides a needed, if shocking, reminder that not all the moral charlatans are on the other side.

Police Weighing Probe on Ben-Amotz Biography
By Dan Izenberg
Jerusalem Post - January 23, 1992 

The police are examining the biography of Dahn Ben-Amotz to see whether they should launch a criminal investigation, Police Minister Roni Milo told the Knesset yesterday. 

Milo was replying to a question from Avraham Sharir (Likud), who urged Milo to speed up the preliminary process of studying the book and to begin the investigation. 

Some MKs expressed disgust at the sexual conduct described in the book, but others seemed amused by the controversy it has elicited. 

Author Amnon Dankner wrote that Ben-Amotz, an author and newspaper columnist who died two years ago, lived a promiscuous life which included seducing girls as young as 12. He also wrote that other people, including some well-known in the country's cultural life, knew about Ben-Amotz's activities and some had participated in them. 

"Investigators at national police headquarters are examining the book by Amnon Dankner," said Milo. "After the examination, they will determine what to do about the material and whether they should launch an investigation." 

Milo could not resist adding: "I told the investigators that, after they finish studying the book, they should hand it over to me, because I want to read it, too." 

Sharir was not amused. "Since the book names names, the police should step up the investigation and reading of this thick book and ask the minister to report back to the Knesset after the police - and he, as he mentioned - finish reading and investigating," he said. 

Edna Solodar (Labor) said the contents of the book are revolting and demanded that police begin their investigation with Dankner, "who was a friend of the deceased for many years. I assume that he was a witness to some of what he wrote about. Where was he all those years?" 

Eli Dayan (Labor) demanded that the investigation begin immediately. He said that the "so-called elite of Israeli society, by which I mean the sewage of Israeli society" appears to have been involved in Ben-Amotz's activities.


Bad Taste on TV
By D. Gevint
Jerusalem Post - January 24, 1992

Readers' Letters 

Sir, - On Friday night, January 10, on prime-time TV, I was amazed to see the full expose of Dahn Ben-Amotz's alleged sexual perversions. For 20 minutes, my family and I were subjected to details of how he had slept with his mother and of his affairs with minors. 

To top it all, on the following Tuesday night, Gabi Gazit went one better on his show when a guest of his explained to us and his audience of teenagers the minute details of how the deceased had made love to a minor. This after a previous program in which a guest of his told how they had enjoyed drugs for many years and how that had helped him. I understand if, in order to read Dahn Ben-Amotz's full pornographic story, one must purchase the book or a newspaper, but why on a national TV station must we be subjected to this ultimate in bad taste and vulgarity? 

D. GEVINT, Ra'anana.


News in Brief 

Ansky Drops Libel Suit
By Itim
Jerusalem Post - May 19, 1993

Broadcaster Alex Ansky yesterday dropped his NIS 500,000 libel suit against journalist Amnon Dankner after reaching an out of court settlement. In the suit, filed in January 1992 in the Tel Aviv District Court, Ansky claimed that he had been portrayed in Dankner's biography of the late Dahn Ben-Amotz as having witnessed numerous sexual acts between Ben-Amotz and minors. 

In the unspecified compromise agreement reached with the aid of arbitrator Yosef Lapid, it was agreed that the portrayal was inaccurate and had been based on "an unfortunate misunderstanding."


Exhumed and exposed
By Naomi Doudai
Jerusalem Post - November 29, 1994


By Rubik Rosenthal. Direction, Edna Shavit. Set, Moishik Josefov. Costumes, Michal Lior. Dramaturgy, Tom Levy. Habimah National Theater at the Yaron Yerushalmi Hall, Suzanne Dellal. 

Malinki ... Sharon Alexander
Hannele ... Gili Ben-Azulai
Tewfik ... Halifa Natur
Cohen ... Shimeon Cohen
Nikko ... Yotam Silberman 

Malinki comes in the wake of a wave of historic revision and character assassination of controversial national figures now deceased. They range from Trumpeldor, Gorodish (Shmuel Gonen), Kastner and Szenes to the latest ITV exposure of Dahn Ben-Amotz. Who's next? Moshe Dayan? Or even Ben-Gurion? 

The exhumation of long-buried scandals has become fashionable, especially when the subject is a topic popular with the media. In the case of Malinki, the exposure of his crime against humanity is occasioned by the bloody reverberations of the peace process. 

The issue here is his responsibility for the 1956 massacre by Border Police of 50 Arab civilians returning late for the curfew imposed on Kafr Kassem. Malinki, naive product of a Polish shtetl, commands the murderous unit. He is shown here as a nationalist whose dedication to Zionism is expressed in a bigoted, paranoid hatred of Arabs. This is exacerbated by total ignorance of their native values and village ways. 

His guilt in the brutal affair (a 17-year prison sentence was later commuted to three) is tempered in this version with the suggestion that he was as much a victim of the prejudices relayed by the higher-ups in the army hierarchy as of his own chauvinistic patriotism. 

In this play, Rosenthal's first, there is little compelling stagecraft or structure. A mosaic of man-to-man confrontations substitutes for the conventional courtroom drama. Its main function is to dramatize the collision between moral law and army discipline. It also illustrates the criminal confusion caused by ill-couched military commands. 

Above all, it posits the necessity for a higher moral authority to rein in the excesses of man's inhumanity to man. 

The theme, if not the dramatic action, is gripping. Dynamic characterizations and situations, spiced with racy army dialogue, compel empathy. 

With actors like Ilan Miller (interrogating officer), Amitai Yaish (Yefet, insensate Arab basher), Ofer Zohar (Rosenbaum, a contained humanitarian), and Yotam Zilberman (Nikko, Romanian light relief), we slip inside the skins of our serving soldiers with an intensity rarely inspired by our stage. 

Sharon Alexander, so impressive in film roles in Agfa and Amazing Grace, is less so in the role of Malinki. 


Woman charges book about Ben-Amotz ruined her life
By Marcus Raine
Jerusalem Post - January 27, 1995  

NERYA Bar, described in a book by journalist Amnon Dankner as having enticed young girls into having sex with the late Dahn Ben-Amotz, said in Tel Aviv District Court yesterday that her life had been ruined since the book's publication. 

"After the book's publication, I couldn't go out for days," she said during cross-examination. 

Bar, 40, is suing Dankner, Keter publications, and the defunct daily Hadashot for NIS 1 million for libel. 

The book describes Ben-Amotz as a lascivious and perverted man who seduced juveniles and took part in orgies, together with radio broadcaster Alex Ansky. Ansky originally sued Dankner for NIS 500,000, but the two reached an out-of-court settlement. 

Dankner's lawyer, Mibi Moser, said that Bar herself provided the author with the information written about her in the book. Dankner wrote that she undressed and bathed 13-and 14-year-old girls, to prepare them for Ben-Amotz's orgies. She had been a soldier and Ansky's girlfriend at the time portrayed in the book. 

In court, she denied giving Dankner the information used in the book. But Moser asked her why she appeared on Dan Shilon's talk show only three days after the book's publication if she had been so ashamed to leave her home. Bar responded that Dankner was lying, and said she was unaware of Ben-Amotz's sexual activities with minors. 


Libel suit against Amnon Dankner settled  
By Itim
Jerusalem Post - Feb 8, 1995

A LIBEL suit against Dahn Ben-Amotz biographer Amnon Dankner was settled yesterday when the sides reached an agreement, under which Neriya Ber-Yahin's name will be removed from future copies of the book. 

Ber-Yahin filed a NIS 1 million suit against Dankner and Keter publishers in Tel Aviv District Court for writing in his book, Dahn Ben-Amotz, that she had procured minors to engage in sexual acts with Ben-Amotz. 

With the help of the arbitrator the sides reached the agreement, which was accepted by the court and has the status of a judicial verdict. 

According to the agreement, Dankner acknowledged that Bar-Yahin did not carry out the acts described in his book, and Keter agreed to donate NIS 25,000 to a fund associated with Petah Tikva's Beilinson Hosptial as an act of conciliation. 

Bar-Yahin claimed that the publication of the book had ruined her reputation and caused her humiliation. Dankner, however, had claimed that Bar-Yahin told him the information during interviews he conducted for the book and he believed that she had been telling the truth.


Reading From Right To Left
By Jeff Green
Jerusalem Post - Feb. 2, 1996  

Academic study of the Bible was originally a Protestant domain, with strong theological overtones. But with the development of Israeli academic institutions, as well as the emergence of important Jewish Bible scholars abroad, the Protestant monopoly was broken. 

The late Prof. Moshe Goshen-Gottstein of the Hebrew University was one of those Jewish scholars whose erudition and acumen could not be ignored. One of his ambitious projects was the Hebrew University Bible, intended to be an absolutely authoritative text. 

He broached the idea more than 40 years ago, so you might think that the recent publication by the Magnes Press of the Book of Isaiah, the first and so far the only publication in the series, is a molehill born to a mountain. On the other hand, a mere glance at the scholarly apparatus accompanying this text makes one wonder how it was ever published. 

Progress in related fields and the discovery of an ever-increasing number of sources have made it ever more difficult to consider all the relevant material. The team of scholars who produced this edition of Isaiah consulted every possible manuscript source, including Geniza fragments and Bible quotations in rabbinical literature, in an effort to establish the text itself and also to represent the variant readings. Despite the enormous burden of footnotes and symbols, the text is readable, because the pages are spacious, and the print is large. 

Meanwhile, now that the team of scholars has started its work, and the procedures have been ironed out, the project is gaining momentum: the Book of Jeremiah is due to be published this year. 

OUR REVERENCE toward the Bible, the hallowed source of the Hebrew language, probably underlies the deep seriousness with which Hebrew literature is regarded. Although tons of Hebrew writing are produced daily, from newsppaper sports pages through the instructions accompanying the pills we take, we still feel obliged to snap to attention before a Work of Literature. 

Hence it is noteworthy that Prof. Menachem Perry, the editor of Hasifriya Hahadasha ("The New Library," a prestigious literary series), has seen fit to publish a volume of stories by Amnon Dankner that some critics might take to be sub-literary. Dankner is a prolific journalist who regularly appears on Popolitika, the controversial television shouting match, and he also wrote a candid and controversial biography of the bohemian author Dahn Ben-Amotz, who was known as much for sowing wild oats throughout his life as for his writing. 

For years, in addition to political columns and straight journalism, Dankner has been producing entertaining personal pieces most recently a weekly column in the Ha'aretz weekend magazine. 

These are short tales which he claims are true, though he admits to stretching the truth here and there.
Writing in a popular Jewish tradition reflected in two giants of the late 19th century, Mendele Mocher Seforim and Sholem Aleichem Dankner has created a narrative persona, "Dankner," to whom bizarre things constantly happen and to whom strangers tell the most unlikely stories (often on airplanes, which have supplanted the trains where Mendele and Sholem Aleichem heard their stories). 

"Dankner" has a lot in common with the real Amnon Danker. He grew up in an observant, middle-class home in Jerusalem during the Fifties, he is no longer religious but uses and respects the knowledge that came with his background. He is a journalist, he travels a lot, and he knows many people prominent in the media and politics. He is a loyal family man, though he often looks at his family with a jaundiced eye, an iconoclastic leftist, sophisticated but also brash, cynical at times, and not averse to vulgarity. 

Dankner is a gifted storyteller, with a sharp eye for class and ethnic distinctions and a quick ear for the way Israelis really use the language. He has created a distinctive literary style facile, energetic, unpretentious, funny, and colloquial consciously avoiding a "literary" tone. 

Hakayitz shel Rina Oster ("The Summer of Rina Oster"), contains 21 pieces that first appeared in newspapers. Now you can read them, laugh out loud, and pat yourself on the back for reading Literature. For just as a good joke can reveal deep psychological and social truths in a flash of recognition, Dankner's stories might seem superficial, but many provide more insight into the human reality of life in Israel than fiction that claims to be serious. 

In her first novel, Malkat Hamamterot ("Queen of the Sprinklers"), published by Hakibbutz Hameuchad in a literary series called Mekor, Proza Yisraelit ("Source, Israeli Prose"), Natalie Pick tries much harder than Dankner. Her narrator mingles scenes from early childhood involving her older brother and her parents, with scenes from her life in Paris, where she scratches out a living as a cleaning woman. 

Pick has considerable descriptive gifts and a busy imagination, but she chooses to confuse the reader by mixing memories of events that could have happened, such as the evening her parents entertained her father's boss, with grotesque fantasies, such as swimming in a puddle in the middle of a Parisian street. 

While reading I, too, felt like a swimmer in strange waters, constantly groping for the bottom and never finding it. All this intentional confusion as to what is the "reality" of the novel one is reading prevents one from identifying with the characters. While this very well might be Pick's point, most readers prefer something they can latch onto. 

NITSA KAHN, who published two books of poetry, has now written what she calls a "shiroman" a "poem-novel," published in a new avant-garde series called Hakivsa Hashehora ("The Black Sheep") connected with Hakibbutz Hameuchad and Sifrei Siman Kriya and edited by Hanan Hever and Moshe Ron, literary academics who have long been active on the cultural scene. Kahn's book is entitled Ayelet Ahavim, an expression taken from Proverbs 5:19, "Find joy in the wife of your youth a loving doe." 

Each chapter begins with a poem (which is not always easy to understand), and there are rather long stretches of puzzling language as well as passages in various type faces where the reader is not sure who is talking or what is being talked about. 

In other sections the plot is easy to follow and engaging. When we first meet the heroine and narrator, Havatzelet Samanon, she is a medical student in Rome. But not for long. Within a few pages she has abandoned that project and has hopped on a plane to Madrid, where she meets a Spanish student of Hebrew and falls intensely in love with him. He is apparently the descendant of Marranos, and there is some unexplained mystical bond between them. 

However, Havatzelet must leave for Israel on short notice, because her father has had a heart attack, so she loses contact with her Spanish Hebraist. Soon we find she is married to someone else and seems to have become a student of the Zohar. If you have patience for impulsive and unexplained leaps in the plot and many pages where you aren't sure what's going on, you will be rewarded by some creative use of the Hebrew language and a good deal of humor. 

Coming back to Moshe Ron, another book in the Black Sheep series is his translation of a novel by one of my favorite American writers, Gilbert Sorrentino. I have not read the English original of Aberration of Starlight, translated by Ron as Stiyat Or-Kokhav, but I dipped into his Hebrew and found it admirably natural and effective in conveying Sorrentino's energetic prose, which must have posed a serious challenge to the translator. Ron has brought an important though insufficiently known writer into the Hebrew realm. 


Breaking the haredi 'conspiracy of silence' on domestic abuse
By Calve Ben-David
Jerusalem Post - April 11, 2008 

Note: BETWEEN THE LINES. Covering such extreme cases of domestic abuse always poses a series of challenges 

No local media coverage has been more compelling - and disturbing - the last few weeks than that dealing with the two horrendous cases of child abuse, one in Jerusalem and the other in Beit Shemesh, exposed as having in part been the result of a twisted religious fanaticism in the families involved. 

It is the latter fact that has made it unavoidable in reporting on these cases that the accused abusers belong to the haredi community (evident anyway from the appearance and behavior of the two accused mothers in the television footage of their arraignments). This has sparked complaints from that sector that mainstream media coverage of the crimes is being deliberately highlighted in such a way as to unfairly tarnish the entire community. 

Covering such extreme cases of domestic abuse always poses a series of challenges. To protect the privacy of the victims, the media is obligated (legally and morally) to tread carefully when it comes to identifying the individuals involved. 

The press must also walk a fine line between accurately reporting on the specific type of abuse involved, and indulging in sensationalist overkill of the specific details - a particular problem with the kind of truly gruesome acts involved in the Jerusalem incident. (I could have lived without the front-page photos in the tabloids this week of the various household items used to torture the children in that horrific home.) 

Then there's the issue of judging to what degree the background of the participants in the abuse - if they belong to a specific subculture - is relevant to the story. 

Sometimes it is unquestionably so. For example, "honor killings" of young women would make no sense to the media consumer unless presented in a specifically Arab, Beduin or Druse context. The same could be said of the many cases in recent years of spousal abuse in the Ethiopian immigrant community, which experts have asserted has been in large part due to the extreme cultural shock and displacement its members have undergone following their sudden immigration here. 

REGARDING THE two child abuse cases now making headlines, it has become clear that the bizarre religious beliefs of the cult-like groups to which the families belong is a direct factor in the criminal behavior of the parents and other individuals involved. Certainly any responsible reporting of this story has to delve into the circumstances behind the development and sick ideology of these sects. 

Some haredi commentators have argued that the media has not put enough stress on the fringe nature of these groups, or on the fact that most of their adherents were ba'alei tshuva (newly religious). They have also claimed, as in the past, that such abuse is no more common - or is even less so -- than among the secular public, yet the media never specifically talk of "secular families" when reporting on such cases. 

Those are legitimate points. But while it's certainly debatable to argue that mainstream haredi ideology is not in any way relevant when domestic abuse takes place in such households, certain sociological aspects of the community - in particular, its increasing poverty and the overcrowding in homes - could be said to be a contributing factor. 

But those are issues for another column. One aspect definitely relevant to media coverage, though, is the perceived reluctance within the haredi community to openly discuss and deal with these issues. 

As Tali Farkash, the Ynet columnist born and raised in the haredi community, wrote this week: "The famous conspiracy of silence among the haredi population, which the welfare services and police are dealing with, is a mark of disgrace to the entire sector. Wanting to maintain an image of morality at any cost, they fall into the hole dug by negative elements in the name of Torah, in the name of righteousness. An intensive brainwash has turned psychologists into 'religion's enemies,' social workers into those 'causing people to leave religion' and the police into the messenger of the foreign regime. In this glass house, monsters grow and thrive among us." 

Farkash also this week went on Channel 2's media review program Tik Tikshoret (Communications File) to specifically accuse the haredi media of failing to report or comment on such cases, thus reinforcing this "conspiracy of silence." 

This certainly seems to have been true of the Beit Shemesh case, which apparently went on for years until one of the family's neighbors alerted the authorities and later told a journalist he knew that in doing so he was going against the mores of the community.
Farkash did acknowledge that there has been some progress in this matter in recent years, but not enough. It seems to me the haredim cannot have it both ways - arguing on one hand that behavior like this is exceptional in their environment, usually committed by someone not "really haredi," yet still showing reluctance to expose crimes being committed right in their own backyard in order to stop (or prevent) them. 

This is an issue on which the haredi media should be taking a lead among their public - as has been the case with the secular media - and not holding it back by reinforcing negative patterns of behavior. 

Perhaps I'm being a bit naive about a press which still won't publish any images of women, no matter how modest - even children - but I hope this isn't entirely the case, especially in the future. 

One last point: Whenever such charges are made, haredi commentators are often too quick to shoot back that it's not only such abuse - or a media reluctance to deal with it when it involves certain individuals - that's not unique to their sector. 

Well, that's true to some degree. A notable example in Israeli secular society was the exploitative behavior of leftist icon Dahn Ben-Amotz, which was only revealed (by Amnon Danker) after his death. 

There have also been several cases involving among non-haredi and Orthodox religious figures in the US in recent years. I myself pleaded guilty in these very pages two years ago to having failed as an editor in not having more vigorously followed up on rumors that reached me about the sexual misbehavior of the now-disgraced "New Age rabbi" Mordechai Gafni. All that only argues for more coverage of these issues, both within and without the haredi community, as long as it is done in a responsible manner - one that avoids salacious scandal-mongering, properly respects the privacy of the victims, and puts such actions in the proper sociological context when necessary. 

The stories told these last few weeks out of Jerusalem and Beit Shemesh have been truly stomach-turning. The proper response, though, is not to avert our eyes, but openly to address them in a manner that will only encourage those who learn about such incidents in the future to make sure the proper authorities are notified. 

ON ANOTHER very related matter: Just six weeks ago, I wrote a column summing up the media's role in the sex scandal of former president Moshe Katsav, "as it hopefully draws to a close." 

Oy vey iz mir - woe is me - or all of us, as is in the case here. Alas, I'm afraid the shower of sleaze this affair has already dredged up, every sordid detail reported in the press and broadcast on the evening news, will soon turn into a deluge. This will surely be so if this case goes to trial, and Katsav's alleged victims testify in court expounding on some of the accusations against him already aired by the media. 

That's at least one reason to regret that the ex- president decided this week to turn down the plea bargain deal offered him by the State Attorney's Office. 

So be it. But perhaps, because I now have two daughters old enough to want to watch the evening news - though not to understand everything on it - I hope the anchors will at least do us the courtesy of giving us the obligatory: "Some of the details in the following story may not be appropriate for children," before they start providing us with X-rated accounts of what allegedly went on in Katsav's offices in the Tourism Ministry and Beit Hanassi.


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