Some 300 former students of Rabbi Mordechai Elon, who has been accused of sexually harassing his underlings, have signed a petition in his favor. The young men say they have never been abused or harassed by the rabbi.
Rabbi Elon is being charged with sexually abusing and committing indecent acts on underage students who sought his advice. The Takana forum, which has been accused of protecting Elon, announced recently that it would soon release the details of the allegations against him.
The forum says it has documents signed by the rabbi, in which he admits to the allegations and accepts sanctions imposed on him by the members – including a prohibition to meet with students.
But the petition, dubbed 'Overt Protest', stands by Elon. "We, who have known Rabbi Elon for many years, cannot be told tall tales," it says.
"We testify that for all these years in which we had the honor of teaching and being taught in Rabbi Elon's vicinity, never have we run into abusive behavior by the rabbi towards his students, neither by sight or sound or even a hint, nor by some complaint lodged by a student."
The petition claims that the main complainant in the affair is mentally unstable and therefore unreliable, especially when such positive testimonies by character witnesses are available.
Three hundred former students have already signed the petition, and its initiators say they will have a thousand signatures by Wednesday afternoon. Among the signatories are most of the rabbis who teach at Horev yeshiva, headed by Elon, and where the abuse allegedly took place.
One of those responsible for the petition is a central figure in religious-Zionism, Rabbi Shlomo Aviner. After advising the religious public to stay out of the affair recently, he told Ynet Wednesday that "any publication on the matter is not good for the people of Israel, and I myself feel that this only merits crying, as in times when a mother and father fight."
Aviner, despite refraining from expressing support for Elon in public, attended his son's wedding two weeks ago.
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