A leading national-religious rabbi on Wednesday appeared to dismiss rape allegations against another prominent religious leader from the community, while also suggesting he should be “hanged” if the accusations prove to be true.
Rabbi Zvi Tau, 85, has been accused by several women of sexual abuse and rape dating back decades, with two going public so far.
Tau heads the influential Har Hamor Yeshiva in Jerusalem and is also the spiritual leader of the anti-LGBT Noam political party, which won a single seat in the new Knesset as part of the far-right Religious Zionism slate.
Rabbi Chaim Druckman, the spiritual adviser for Religious Zionism leader Bezalel Smotrich, called the allegations against Tau “gossip” in an interview with Kan public radio.
“People like to gossip. They look for things from the previous century,” Druckman said, referring to when some of the alleged assaults were said to have occurred.
Asked if he believes the women who have spoken with police, he responded, “What am I, the police?”
“Go to the police. The police will handle it,” he added.
He was then pressed on what should happen if the accusations have merit.
“He should be hanged,” Druckman said. “You need to act like one does in such a reality.”
The remarks came as police look into the allegations against Tau, with a special team formed to handle the case after several prominent rabbis last month called for him to be investigated.
Tau’s first accuser, Nechama Te’ena, went public in August, but her allegations were largely ignored at the time by the police and the media. She later staged small protests outside the Knesset, accusing Tau of raping her and others, and demanding to know why police had refused to investigate.
The second woman, who has been named in media only as Dorit, has claimed that some 40 years ago, she was helping Tau’s wife at their home when the rabbi cornered her in the kitchen and assaulted her. She said she was able to fight him off and escape the ground-floor apartment via a porch.
Though the statute of limitations for the incident has expired, prosecutors see value in Dorit speaking to police to shed light on Te’ena’s allegations, Kan has reported.