The Lev Tahor family that left Canada for Guatemala in early March is allowed to stay there with no special conditions — for now.Very sad they're being given all the time they need, that could easily be used to flee the jurisdiction of Guatemala as well. The concerned parties are going to have to work harder now to ensure the children will be saved from the cult's clutches.
Uriel Goldman, the spokesman for the Lev Tahor group living in Chatham, Ont., confirmed Wednesday that the family no longer has to go to the Canadian embassy in Guatemala City as a condition of its stay in Central America.
The family is now permitted to stay in the country for up to three months, as stipulated by the Guatemala’s immigration and visa rules. [...]
A previous judgment rendered by a Guatemalan court prevented Canadian and local authorities from seizing the children on an existing order from Canada. Judge Mariela de Leon ruled there was insufficient evidence to proceed with a removal order.
In related news, the cult's also been trying their own PR, but according to the following news, they aren't doing it well, and that could be their undoing:
An investigation into allegations of child abuse leading to an apprehension order for 14 children of the ultra-Orthodox Jewish sect Lev Tahor –and the placement of several children in foster care–has prompted the community to launch a public relations strategy of their own.Ah, I see. This is what the cult is claiming, but no confirmations have come from the social workers and medics. That aside, calling revocation of custody "genocide" is offensive in the extreme. The authorities are not trying to physically murder the children, but to rescue them from an abhorrent, abusive lifestyle by would-be parents who've raised the children - girls and also boys - under terrible conditions such as bad hygiene and undernourishment, all the while corrupting Judaism by putting Islamist tactics into their vision. In which case, who is it who's really endangering the children's lives? What a shameful bunch Lev Tahor really are.
Lev Tahor claims parents have done nothing wrong and are the victims of religious persecution. They’ve hired a “media planner” who began sending out emails calling the apprehension of families in Trinidad a “religious genocide” and saying that three of the eight children now in foster care are on a hunger strike until they’re returned to their parents. (The latter has yet to be confirmed by children’s aid workers or hospital staff).
One Lev Tahor mother started a website of her own with photos and her own explanations for why child services agencies are involved; community members have taken to wearing yellow Stars of David and making similar comparisons to the Nazi persecution of the Jews.Using accusations of racism as a cover for child abuse is, as noted before, offensive and repellent in the extreme, and even if Shlomo Helbrans is manipulating them into doing this, it's disgraceful, and they should be ashamed.
But these actions may be less about influencing outside opinion and more driven by a fear that losing control of their message will lead to dissension within the community, according to associate director of Carleton University’s School of Journalism and Communication Josh Greenberg.This could describe some Haredi clans in Israel too, that they care less about outside perceptions and only care what their own members think.
“Radical or fringe religious groups are typically less worried about public perceptions than they are the perceptions of their own adherents — the target of communication is internal to the extent that it’s about maintaining control over the beliefs and ideological commitments of members, not to influence the values or opinions of outsiders,” said Greenberg in an email to Global News.
Greenberg, who specializes in social movements and crisis management, said the use of such propaganda techniques is “old as religion itself” but not necessarily successful in this situation. He noted most social media traffic related to Lev Tahor is made up of links to news articles that “reinforce an image of the sect as ideologically extreme.”
“Twitter posts, Facebook discussions, blogs and reader comments on news sites offer little evidence of the community or its supporters actively driving any discussion at all,” he said.
And rather than a situation of crisis management, he believes this is “crisis construction” on the part of Lev Tahor. He said the use of the star of David (which has angered many Jews and Jewish organizations) is likely to create fear in the community so adherents will “turn inward in an act of self-preservation.”
When it comes to the definition of freedom of religion, says University of Waterloo sociologist Lorne Dawson, courts must weigh religious rights against the laws, so if the religious right conflicts with public interest or rights of another group, then the right to religious expression isn’t “absolute.”Actually, what Lev Tahor's worried about is that their definition of Judaism survives to the aforementioned extent.
In the case of Lev Tahor, where allegations of abuse have centred around the treatment of the children, Dawson points to the fact that child-rearing practices are an extremely important part of most religions.
“Religions only survive to the extent that they can pass on their beliefs to their children,” he said.
Dawson said it’s common for child-rearing practices of orthodox religious groups to clash with public practices in Canada’s increasingly liberal society.I would argue that, depending what kind of orthodoxy we're discussing here, that's when it'll clash with Canada's values, and Israel's. After all, Lev Tahor's backwards, isolationist MO, which is an insult to the brains of their clan members, is a form of abuse that gives orthodox Judaism a bad name.
“The odds are overwhelming that any of these kinds of groups are probably going to have standards of child rearing including modes of punishing … that are at odds with current norms in secular society,” he said.
Dawson said the counterargument about religious freedom will probably only carry so much weight in family court, which is based primarily on protecting the interests of children.I understand this concern, but truly, it is the overlords of Lev Tahor who don't understand what God wants, and are disrespecting God with their vicious, oppressive customs. That's what the courts should really be telling them, but alas, they probably won't.
“Probably if this goes to court, the religious group will say, ‘We have to engage in certain practices with our children–whatever it is: not sending them to school, homeschooling them, having them married by age 15, 16 … because this is what our religious beliefs tell us, what our scripture or what God wants us to do.’ That’s where it gets a bit dicey because the courts don’t want to get into the business of telling any religious group what God does or does not want them to do.
“So the courts always act like they’re not talking about theology, but the trouble is in the end, if you take the kids away and say, ‘You can’t do that,’ then you are basically saying, ‘We know what’s right and God as you understand him doesn’t.’ So there’ll be push and shove on that.”