OPINION: After ten years, justice – but why was it so difficult?
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OPINION: After ten years, justice – but why was it so difficult?

Manny Waks, chief executive of Kol v’Oz, reflects on the long and drawn out process of securing Malka Leifer's extradition from Israel to Australia

Manny Waks
Manny Waks

It is more than a decade since Malka Leifer was helped to flee to Israel in the middle of the night amid allegations of child sexual abuse perpetrated against her students.

Leifer and her enablers hoped to avoid justice, and for the horrific allegations against her never to be heard in an Australian court, yet even they could not have foreseen the extent to which certain ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities in Israel and around the world would go to protect an accused paedophile, or how the failures of the Israeli justice system would help them in their quest.

For it to have taken 71 court hearings to get to this point is Israel’s shame. Having attended most of them, I’ve seen first-hand how unfair the Israeli judicial process is. This has taken a huge toll on Leifer’s alleged victims – one that was perfectly avoidable. It is vital that we get to the bottom of how this happened, including the role played by the ultra-Orthodox community and their political representatives, to make sure this shameful situation is never repeated.

Three sisters – Nicole, Dassi and Elly – have shown incredible courage over ten years, in a battle they should never have had to fight. While there may yet be a further appeal, we have now overcome the biggest hurdles and can look forward to Leifer’s extradition. We hope and trust that any remaining processes will be dealt with quickly, with Leifer back in Australia later this year.

We know that there are many more alleged victims out there and we encourage them to now come forward. If they need help, we are here for them.

Today is a great day for justice. It is a day which at times felt like it would never arrive, but we are thrilled that it is finally here.

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