Police Act on Jerusalem “Christian Paedo Cult” Panic

From the Times of Israel:

Police launch an investigation into a group of Israeli Jews from the Sanhedria neighborhood of Jerusalem who allegedly misled and swindled donors in Israel and abroad by making up stories about a purported Christian cult that had kidnapped, sexually abused and forcibly converted to Christianity hundreds of Jewish children from the Haredi community…

Details are scarce, but this presumably relates to the situation that was reported last year by a writer named Menachem Kaiser in the Tablet:

In the last few weeks, I have received a startling number of calls and emails regarding an ongoing crisis in Sanhedria Murchevet, a neighborhood in north Jerusalem where many—including some prominent rabbis and communal leaders—believe that an organized ring of criminals have been abusing, raping, and torturing Jewish children and have been doing so for a number of years. There is also widespread belief that the abuse is at least partially religiously motivated—that operating in the community’s midst is a cult, a ring of men and women who are subjecting the children to ritual torture.

Kaiser cautioned against hysteria, and he noted how similar claims had arisen in the Jerusalem neighbourhood of Nachlaot in 2012:

People died in the wake of what happened in Nachlaot. An 80-year-old woman was beaten with a crowbar and hospitalized, because she was believed to be a key member of a Christian missionary cult behind the abduction, torture, and rape of Jewish children. Many lives were destroyed. Children underwent corrective therapy for traumatic events that almost certainly did not happen—therapy that thereby created and reinforced that trauma.

Kaiser wrote about the earlier Nachlaot case here (the woman who was attacked was described as “70” rather than “80” in his earlier piece, following a report in Haaretz). In that instance, the police came to the view that there was a real paedophile ring in operation (albeit nothing to do with a “cult”), and arrests and convictions followed.

This time, the police appear to have taken a different view. However, I’d be surprised if the Sanhedria allegations can be reduced to a calculated scam: there are obvious parallels here with the Anglo-American “Satanic Panic” controversies of the 1980s and 1990s (recently revived in the UK in the form of false “VIP abuse” allegations), while panic over a “Christian cult” plays dovetails with ultra-Orthodox activism against Christian missionaries in Israel.

3 Responses

  1. For a people came out of Egypt but Egypt not come out of them, the same Egypt that killed Christ.

  2. On the bright side, at least they’re not accusing Christians of using the blood of Jewish babies to make communion wafers. .

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