The Israeli Consul General in Miami has been arrested (Hebrew) by Israeli police for abusing his 13 year-old daughter. The alleged abuse occurred while he was Consul General in Miami where he is accused of injuring his daughter by throwing her into the shower and damaging her arm. It began after Chaim Shacham had married his second wife (his first wife had died several years earlier), who herself had a son. The two children did not get along well, which angered Shacham. In order impose peace in his home, he allegedly resorted to methods of discipline which included whipping his daughter with a belt and engaging in other forms of physical and verbal intimidation.
Ynet has reported the general outlines of this story. However, the court has gagged identifying Shacham or his diplomatic posting in order to protect the identity of his daughter. Unfortunately, this has the effect of protecting Shacham himself and the foreign ministry, his employer when the alleged crimes took place.
During one incident when the family was on vacation in Israel, they stopped at a gas station, Shacham’s daughter was so frightened of him that she got out of the car and told the gas station attendant to call the police. But before the police could find the family they had driven off. When he discovered that his daughter had reported him to the police, he coached her on what she should say to them to allay any suspicions they might have.
One wonders whether any of this would’ve bothered Florida’s attorney general, Pam Bondi, who joined a Who’s Who of south Florida Jewish leaders in celebrating Israel’s 67th anniversary, where she effused: “There’s nowhere else I’d rather be tonight than right here supporting the State of Israel and our great consul general.”
When she returned to Israel, his daughter reported him to the Israeli police, who began an investigation. That investigation led to the state prosecutor agreeing to press charges against him.
Israel’s foreign ministry released a statement saying that the crimes for which the diplomat is accused were done in his capacity as a private citizen, therefore they have nothing to do with the Ministry itself:
The diplomat has been suspended till the matter has been resolved. The case involves suspicion of a criminal act occurring within the family and having nothing whatsoever to do with the ministry or his role as an official representative.
The fact that the abuse occurred in Shacham’s home, which was rented for him in Miami by the State of Israel puts the lie to this claim. Keep in mind as well, who the Israeli foreign Minister: Bibi Netanyahu.
It’s important to note that this case involves some of the deepest family traumas possible: a daughter left alone after her mother dies. A new step-mother. Travel away from home in Israel to a strange place. This has to have placed an enormous strain on both the daughter and family. It’s possible the daughter may be acting out in some way or getting revenge against her father for remarrying and betraying his first wife.
That being said, I don’t mean to belittle the charges. They are very serious. That is why I’m reporting them. Further, I doubt very much that the police and prosecutor would wish to bring charges against an Israeli diplomat unless they found them to be very credible.
There have been a series of cases in the last few weeks involving senior Israeli officials, in which they have been charged with crimes ranging from sexual to physical abuse. Yesterday Israeli police removed a gag order against reporting that an IDF general named Ofek Buchris was charged with repeated counts of rape and sodomy (Hebrew) with a female subordinate. He is the commander of the Operations Division in the IDF, an extremely important post. This story has not been reported outside Israel.
I broke the story two weeks ago that the Israeli ambassador to the UK, Daniel Taub, had been reported by UK police to admit adult men and boys to his ambassadorial residence repeatedly late at night. When this case was reported to his Israeli security detail, they warned the Ambassador that he was compromising the security of the embassy. Taub continued engaging in this risky behavior. The Shin Bet, which provides embassy security, then reported the violations to the foreign ministry in Israel.
Except for Amir Oren, who reported this story without naming Taub, no one in Israeli or foreign media have reported the sexual nature of the charges against him. Both the Guardian and Telegraph reported merely that he invited visitors into his residence without notifying his security detail. Though I asked the Guardian if their police reporter could investigate with the local police to see if they could identify and question the officer who was stationed at the embassy, they never answered my request.
When Taub requested a one-year extension on his ambassadorial posting in the UK, the ministry refused and he returned home. Astonishingly, he was nominated for a major promotion to be the chief legal advisor of the ministry. Dore Gold, the Director General of the MFA, and the committee that reviewed his appointment rejected it because of the serious security breaches (and perhaps because of the sexual dalliances that he had engaged in). Taub appealed to an ally, the Attorney General, Avichai Mandelblit, who dutifully gave Taub a clean bill of health after a cursory investigation. Mandelbit, you will recall, was the IDF prosecutor general, who gave the IDF a clean bill of health regarding war crimes committed during operation protective edge in Gaza.
I noted in my earlier reporting of this story that Taub is an Orthodox Jew with six children. Homosexuality in the Orthodox tradition is condemned. This is why it’s so important both to Taub and the ministry to squelch any detailed reporting on this story. What’s odd about this case is that neither the IDF censor nor the judiciary have prohibited reporting this story. Yet for some reason, the Israeli media self-censors. They did the same in the case of Naim Araidi, another diplomat accused of sexual abuse during a posting. There was no censor’s demand that the press lay off the story, nor a gag order. But no Israeli reporter bothered to identify him by name.
When Taub was queried about his behavior, he explained that the visits to his residence were for “therapeutic” purposes. Later, he explained that he was engaged in “New Age” healing:
During the examination Taub claimed that the late-night visits were by a therapist providing “New Age therapy” for several health problems.
Taub must have a problem maintaining good relationships with therapists because there were many different visitors according the UK media reports. I wonder how he explains the boys entering the premises. Were they therapists as well? Perhaps he was experimenting with the healing power of gay Tantric yoga?
All of these cases show that there is a culture of both impunity and corruption that afflicts all levels of Israeli society, but especially the elites. They exploit a network of allies who cover each others backs and ensure that their excesses and corrupt deeds will be protected from scrutiny, and that their careers will continue to thrive. All at the expense of the State and people they serve.
Is child abuse or gay affairs (or prostate therapy) any more prevalent among Israeli diplomatic staff in relation to the rest of the population?
Regarding gay Tantric yoga – this is not a crime. Fudging one’s security detail is a problem outside of Israel, but isn’t a problem inside.
The current allegation against Ofek Bochris is that he had sex with a subordinate. Under current Israeli law (from around 1988 I believe) this is almost automatically rape (“ניצול יחסי מרות”) also if consensual at the time (the premise is that the subordinate can not willingly consent – as she(or he) fears for their position). But this is not rape in many jurisdictions outside Israel.
The Bochris case is widely reported (pre-gag (on his hame) with very broad hints regarding his identity, and post-gag with his name) in the Israeli media. I’m not sure this is something that would really interest anyone outside of Israel – this is very much a local story.
Richard Silverstein says
Wrong. I don’t care whether it’s more or less prevalent amongst the general population. There is NO margin of error when you’re in a major diplomatic posting. You simply may not engage in any form of illegal or criminal behavior when you are such a public figure representing your country. Far too many Israeli diplomats flagrantly disregard this & engage in all manner of sexual escapades & other illegal behavior.
The allegation against Buchris is that he SODOMIZED his female subordinate. You conveniently left that out of your portrait of the crime. I don’t care whether the crime is rape or not. A superior military officer may not have sex or exploit a subordinate, ever in any country with a reasonable system of justice (perhaps North Korea might be the exception–if you wish to follow their standards, be my guest).
As for Buchris, I don’t only write for a foreign audience. I also write for Israelis both in Israel & abroad. I appreciate your editorial advice about what I should or shouldn’t report, but leave those decisions to me. If you have such a good sense of what’s newsworthy for an audience, start your own blog.
Make Israel take the ‘Walk of Shame’.
First *crickets*, now *bell ring*. Congratuations, you have reached the toddler stage already. We will need those diapers soon.
Shlomo Katz says
There are bad Israeli fathers like there are bad American fathers. People are people and If he is guilty of these crimes he should be punished.
Richard Silverstein says
@ Shlomo Katz: The issue isn’t fathers per se. The issue is father’s who beat their children & injure them while in the service of their country in a major diplomatic posting; and the government refusing to accept any responsibility for his actions.
RE: One wonders whether any of this would’ve bothered Florida’s attorney general, Pam Bondi, who joined a Who’s Who of south Florida Jewish leaders in celebrating Israel’s 67th anniversary, where she effused: “There’s nowhere else I’d rather be tonight than right here supporting the State of Israel and our great consul general.” ~ R.S.
MY COMMENT: I doubt any of this would have bothered Florida’s attorney general, Pam Bondi, because she also mentioned her “life-changing trip to Israel in 2011” at the gala celebration for Israel’s 67th anniversary. And, I think it’s safe for us to assume that Ms. Bondi did not pay for her “life-changing trip to Israel in 2011” from her own personal funds.
In fact, a wee bit of Googling relieves us of having to make any assumptions as to whether or not she paid with her own funds for her “life-changing trip to Israel in 2011”!*
* SEE: “Fla. Attorney General Bondi To Visit Israel” | Miami.CBSlocal.com | May 20, 2011
ENTIRE ARTICLE – http://miami.cbslocal.com/2011/05/20/fla-attorney-general-bondi-to-visit-israel/
* ALSO SEE: “Trips and friendships place Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi on defense”
By Associated Press Tue, Nov 11, 2014 @ 7:29 pm
ENTIRE ARTICLE – http://jacksonville.com/breaking-news/2014-11-11/story/trips-and-friendships-place-florida-attorney-general-pam-bondi
P.S. It seems that free junkets to Israel have replaced the infamous three-martini lunch. La dolce vita! (Italian for “The sweet life!”)
P.P.S. COINCIDENTALLY: “Benjamin Netanyahu Thanks Florida Cabinet for Supporting Israel” | By Kevin Derby | SunshineStateNews.com | September 3, 2014
ENTIRE ARTICLE – http://www.sunshinestatenews.com/story/benjamin-netanyahu-thanks-florida-cabinet-supporting-israel%20
I have finally found it!: the go-to blog for the seamy-underbelly of (Israeli) news, now that Failed Messiah got bought out and is effectively quashed. Thank you, Richard!
That said, I’m disgusted. Not only for the above crimes’ own merit, but indeed–that they were done on the clock. Seems like a few of the above need their Wikipedia pages updated, starting with this one: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daniel_Taub
Richard Silverstein says
@ Laurel: Wikipedia has a Zio-squad that polices articles. I’ve written about this regarding Gerald Steinberg. I’ve found that Wikipedia is afflicted with this. If you write anything critical about many Israeli subjects there, I’m sure it will be reverted.
Your post is fair reporting except for the last paragraph, which is tendentious editorializing and just wrong.
In Israel, as in Europe, the criminal justice system is different than that of the US. Since innocence is presumed until conviction, and trials take a lot longer here, defendants cannot lead a normal life, due to the burden of a drawn out ordeal with the justice system. During that time, their identity is usually protected EVEN for ordinary citizens. Often I read of this or that arrest for a particular crime and the defendant’s name is not reported. For example if a teacher is suspected of sexually harassing a student. Only sometimes the court allows publishing a name, if either they consider it in the public interest or it is to become public anyhow as the trial approaches. Police records of ordinary citizens are NOT public, and can be requested only with his or her consent. This is not a conspiracy of the elites or corruption. The is a system with an eye on REHABILITATION. The idea is (unlike in the US with things like Megan’s Law) that the person pays his debt to society through his sentence and punishment, not through additional public humiliation, rejection, and expulsion from society. We consider the American criminal justice system to be vindictive and unfair. Even if the person is exonerated his life is often still ruined due to the publicity and difficulty reintegrating with society, like finding a job or community. If he is guilty and punished, even more so. We consider it outlandish that in some American states, a person caught urinating outside is convicted as a sex offender, whose name is published on a list, can’t move near a school, and can’t get a job.
So your crusade of public shaming of individuals who have not been convicted of anything is counter to liberal principles, unless you think that ends justify the means– finding every scrap of information to defame Israel. I think that this is where you face a contradiction. When judging Israel you use a Kantian type ethic, with absolute black and white rules, without considering the circumstances, context, etc. Israel is doing something wrong, and that is that. They are evil. Yes, there are Israeli criminals! Yet when siding with Israel’s adversaries (as you usually do), they are judged by a relativistic, utilitarian standard. They are only reacting, they can’t help it, their reaction is only natural, the ends justifies the means, etc.
I hope that you don’t ban this comment as it is on topic and underlines a crucial point of debate.
Richard Silverstein says
@ Yehuda: That’s nonsense. Trials take no longer in Israel than anywhere else. Criminal trials can take years in the U.S. from when the investigation begins to final determination of guilt or innocence at trial.
It is also nonsense that the identity of ordinary Israeli citizens is “protected.” The truth is that when a case is important to the media it will be covered unless there is a gag. When the case involves an ordinary citizen the media usually has little or no interest. So there is no effort to “protect” anyone whose case doesn’t interst the media anyway. There are no gag orders in cases of little interest.
Wonderful, the stellar Israeli justice system is interested in “rehabilitation.” Where did you get that from? Hasbara Central? That claim is as true as the claim by some criminal justice experts that the U.S. prison system is meant to rehabilitate prisoners. Have you ever seen the inside of any prison? If you had (including an Israeli prison) you would know that in 98% of cases there is not going to be any rehabilitation. In fact, prison in Israel and everywhere else is often the proving ground for training more lethal and dangerous criminals.
“We?” “What’s this ‘we’ shit, white man?” (an old joke based on an old U.S. TV show). Who gave you the privilege of speaking on behalf of all Israelis? Your view of the U.S. justice system is woefully wrong. Some people who are sentenced to prison come out of prison and lead perfectly ordinary lives (except for their difficult in finding jobs as ex-convicts). It may be rare but it happens as often here as in Israel.
I’ve never heard of public urination leading to a sex offender designation. I believe you either made that one up or are grossly exagerrating via anecdotal evidence.
My only crusade is for transparency and against opacity and impunity, of which there is far too much in Israel. The notion that Israel is a state observing “liberal principles” which I supposedly violate is laughably ridiculous. But that stretch you’ve made is daring and even breathtaking. It’s brash. It’s bold. And it fell flat on its face. But at least you tried. I give you credit for yr audacity.
If Israel is defamed by anything I write it is only because it is a society befouled by sexism, violence, corruption and racism. Those problems aren’t my fault, they’re yours. Either you & your fellow citizens can fix them and put me out of business; or you’ll continue having me point out your vices.
So I’m a “Kantian.” Wow. That’s never happened before. I doubt you even know what the term means, let alone how it applies to me.
Knock off the histrionics. Stick to facts and arguments grounded in them. And stop characterizing or paraphrasing (& exaggerating) what I supposedly believe. That IS a comment rule violation. But in your context not a major one.
Though your comment doesn’t violate the comment rules (except in the last paragraph), it doesn’t ‘underline’ anything that is ‘crucial’ to anything. Don’t flatter yourself.
Deïr Yassin says
In France where I live and in Denmark where I lived before, the names of persons implicated in such affairs are not under gag ordereither, you’re just inventing this.
Well here is an example hot off the press
I’m sure that with your sources you will find out who this is and publicize it.
BTW I think that the gag orders are overused, not specifically in political cases. Here is an article about it
As far as public urination
“Those problems aren’t my fault, they’re yours. Either you & your fellow citizens can fix them and put me out of business; or you’ll continue having me point out your vices.”
Shall I blame you and your friends for all of America’s problems, like homelessness, a shitty medical system, rampant opioid addiction, and the existence of Donald Trump?
Richard Silverstein says
@yehuda: I don’t care what you say about the U.S. Unlike Israel, we’re a strong enough country to take any criticism you can dish out. Unlike you, we are often the harshest critics of our own country because we insist that it honor its own laws & principles. You might want to try it sometimes.
As for public urination: as I wrote you found a single anecdote in a country of 370 million people. Congrats.