“Residents of Tel Aviv’s quiet Hatikva neighbourhood were shocked yesterday to discover a self-styled Jewish sage living in their midst with a harem of 30 women kept as ‘slaves’ in squalid apartments,” The London Times reported on January 15th.
“Goel Ratzon, 60, is accused of fathering 37 children since 1993 with his ‘wives’ and daughters. Mr Ratzon, who was dubbed by the local media as ‘Israel’s Josef Fritzl’, is under arrest on suspicion of incest and sexual abuse.” Click here for the whole story, which includes a list of the rules Ratzon forced his wives to obey, such as “It is forbidden to talk nonsense. (Fine: 200 shekels).”
I’m late on this story, but it didn’t find its way into the New York media until his indictment was unsealed on February 14th. Ratzon’s wives (some of whom were also his daughters) dressed frum, but they tattooed images of his face on their bodies and gave their children variants of his name, like Tiferet Hagoel (“the Savior’s Glory”–“Goel” means Savior in Hebrew). The Huffington Post reports that Asher Wizman, a private investigator who was hired by the families of two of Goel’s wives, sent a female operative to infiltrate the cult.
“He looked her in the eye” for about 90 seconds, “and she felt like she was losing control, it was a kind of hypnosis,” he said.
The investigator, who spend a month inside the clan, reported to Wizman that the women “talked about Ratzon as if he were a god and the biggest honor is to spend the night with him,” he said.
Click here for the full story.
The Fritzl comparison (click here for The New York Times‘ brief profile of the Austrian incest monster, if you don’t know who he is) seems way off base to me. Ratzon may be deranged, but his “Biblical” view of marriage is not dissimilar to that of any number of cultists’. The LDS Restorationist Brian David Mitchell (Elizabeth Smart’s kidnapper), who is undoubtedly psychotic, leaps to mind.
Haaretz weighed in with an editorial that asked what the odds are that, “a woman of 60-plus, or even 40-plus, not especially good-looking, with tons of children and no income of her own…would succeed in persuading more than one man, never mind 20 of them, to serve her, provide for all her needs and make her an adored queen? The chances are extremely slim. Not because men are smarter, but because our society is patriarchal and chauvinist.” Click here.