There are rarely times I am dumbfounded by an editorial, but this one leaves me wondering. Today Herb Kenon wrote an editorial: “Analysis: Eshel case will fade, but questions remain”. He seems to presume that Eshel has gone only because he is a liability; R. must be silent because she wasn’t really harassed since she refused to file a complaint or testify; and the three people who filed complaints against him will be fired because they betrayed a long time friend of Netanyahu. Then he asks:
… is this really the time the prime minister wants to conduct a major overhaul in his office? This type of intrigue and politics obviously casts a shadow and leaves scars, and it is coming at a most inopportune moment for the country. At a time like this, the prime minister needs an inner circle he can trust, one that works harmoniously. The last thing he needs is to sweat the small stuff. So even though Eshel is going, and even though the story will now fade away, the more important question remains: Who will replace him and can that individual put Netanyahu’s office in order so the prime minister can focus on running the country, not minding the staff?
Without a doubt, it is time to move forward and focus on rebuilding Netanyahu’s team, but what of any of this is small? What is curious about a victim keeping silent? As any one who works with those traumatized by stalking, rape, chronic sexual harassment, and other abuses of power and relationship knows, silence is the norm. Police often struggle to get the cooperation of victims even when they have a strong case. Whether victim or bystander, speaking out is hard.
Organizations commonly turn the other way when faced with the sexual misbehavior of members. Then vainly hope that no harm will come to the organizations mission. Or they fear spreading false rumors and besmirching the reptuation of a seemingly good man. Or they cast aspersion on the victim: she must have deserved it. Even if it is true, she’s not a team player. No one would air dirty laundry if they cared about the team. Or they blame her for not having a tough enough skin, as if harassment is a distasteful norm that no one has a right to complain about.
How many children have been abused because someone felt the effective administration of a school, sports team, or classroom ranked above a child’s complaint of violation? How many women (and men) have suffered because a boss took liberties with their position?
At the end of the day, the silence is fueled by the belief that the suffering of an individual is in fact “small stuff” relative to the mission of the organization. But is it? Continue reading