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President Rivlin refuses to meet Dassi Erlich during Australian visit

Michael Visontay
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Published: 21 February 2020

Last updated: 26 February 2024

ISRAELI PRESIDENT REUVEN RIVLIN has refused to meet with Dassi Erlich and her sisters over the Malka Leifer extradition case during his upcoming visit to Australia, despite vigorous efforts by Australian Jewish community leaders to do so.

Dassi Erlich told Israeli radio on Wednesday that President Rivlin had so far resisted all approaches to meet with the sisters, who were sexually abused by Leifer, and who continue to campaign for her extradition from Israel to face justice in Australia over her alleged multiple crimes.

In a statement released of Facebook yesterday, Dassi Erlich said: “President of Israel, Reuven Rivlin, is Visiting Melbourne next week. We have requested to meet with him.

“There have been many requests that he meet with us, from government officials to the heads of several international Jewish organisations.

“We still do not have a meeting with President Rivlin.”

It is understood that Erlich and community leaders remain hopeful that President Rivlin will change his mind ahead of his visit, which begins this weekend with a public event in Sydney on Sunday night.

The Jewish Independent has been told that the president and his advisers are unsure whether it would be better to meet with Erlich and her sisters, and have to make a public comment about the unacceptable string of delays in her case, or refuse to bow to the pressure, and incur the anger of the Australian Jewish community.

Ahead of his arrival in Australia, President Rivlin’s office sent a letter to Israeli Ambassador to Australia Mark Sofer in response to inquiries on the Leifer case, the Times of Israel reported overnight.

The letter notes that the president “takes the matter very seriously” and that “he has full confidence that the State of Israel does not allow those who have committed a crime to use the state and its institutions as a barrier to facing justice according to law.

“He also noted that those alleging criminal activity have met with Israeli Ministers of Justice and with the legal professionals dealing with the matter on behalf of the State of Israel, who have [said] that, ahead of the visit to Australia, their doors are always open to questions on the matter,” the Times of Israel report said.

Manny Waks, another sexual abuse victim who is now an outspoken advocate on behalf of victims, met with President Rivlin's advisers last week ahead of his trip. "I urged them to ensure that the President will meet the courageous sisters, Nicole Meyer, Dassi Erlich and Elly Sapper, on his forthcoming trip to Melbourne (as the girls would greatly appreciate this opportunity) and to make it clear where Israel stands on this issue," Waks said in a statement after his meeting.

"I noted that this would be the minimum expectation of many in Australia.
" I also encouraged them to utilise this opportunity to address the broader issue of child sexual abuse by highlighting that while all Jews are welcome to emigrate to Israel (under the Law of Return), sex offenders are not welcome, and that their enablers should cease assisting in their evasion of justice by facilitating their escape to Israel.


Judge allows Leifer lawyers to submit extra testimony, further stretching trial (Times of Israel)
Doctors who already testified for defense can again submit psychiatric opinions, despite court-ordered panel having found alleged sex abuser fit for extradition to Australia

Abuse victim Manny Waks wins $800,000 in damages from paedophile David Cyprys (Guardian)
A child abuse victim who blew the whistle on abuse within the Orthodox Chabad sect of Judaism in Australia has been awarded $804,170 in damages in a civil case brought against his perpetrator and serial abuser, David Cyprys, in Melbourne

About the author

Michael Visontay

Michael Visontay is the Commissioning Editor of TJI. He has worked as a journalist and editor for more than 30 years. Michael is the author of several books, including Who Gave You Permission?, co-authored with child sexual abuse advocate Manny Waks, and Welcome to Wanderland: Western Sydney Wanderers and the Pride of the West.

The Jewish Independent acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the Traditional Owners and Custodians of Country throughout Australia. We pay our respects to Elders past and present, and strive to honour their rich history of storytelling in our work and mission.

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