American Orthodox rabbi and child-safety advocate Yakov Horowitz was found not liable in a NIS 200,000 libel lawsuit filed against him by convicted sex offender Yona Weinberg, a Jerusalem Magistrate Court Justice ruled on Wednesday.
Weinberg filed suit for NIS 200,000 in response, contending that he follows all regulations for registered sex offenders and that the tweets have ruined his peace while inviting public harassment. He also denied fleeing the United States, saying he simply followed previous plans to move to Israel. “Horowitz does everything he can to ruin this man’s life,” Weinberg’s attorney said in 2016 ahead of the lawsuit, noting that his client is married and has young children.
Horowitz contends that many didn’t know of Weinberg’s conviction because Israel doesn’t have a public sex-offender registry.
Justice Michal Hirschfeld’s verdict at the Jerusalem Magistrate Court declared that the main warning made by Horowitz against Weinberg is both true and an “expression of his opinion in good faith,” which is fair grounds for dismissing the central complaint. The decision ruled that Horowitz’s regarding Weinberg as a “terrorist with a machete” was justified based on the existential danger of sex abuse against children.
The founding dean of New York Yeshiva Elementary school “Darchei Noam,” Horowitz has spent nearly 20 years advocating for child sex-abuse victims in the Orthodox Jewish community, writing books on child safety and parenting that have reached 120,000 Orthodox families and been translated into three languages.
Horowitz has numerous achievements in the field of Jewish education. He was named “Rockland Educator of the Year” in 2002 and received the 2005 Grinspoon-Steinhart Award for Excellence in Jewish Education, as well as the prestigious Covenant Award in 2008 for his contribution to Jewish education and for his child abuse prevention work.
“Yonah Weinberg is a despicable and dangerous pedophile who was convicted of sexually abusing minors,” Horowitz’s attorney Itzhak Bam said. “The verdict that supports advocates like Rabbi Horowitz warning that pedophiles are dangerous is welcome news, for which we are very grateful,” adding that “it is very noteworthy that the judge considered ‘a terrorist with a machete’ an appropriate way to define the life-threatening nature of child abusers.”
After the long legal saga, Horowitz shifted the focus off of himself and back onto his life’s work – the unending battle against child molestation. “It’s time to create a legal registry in Israel with information about sex offenders, so parents can properly protect their children from them.”