Southwick delivers Leifer petition

David Southwick with Sharren Haskel (left) and Michal Biran.

MEMBER for Caulfield David Southwick has presented Israeli politicians with a petition calling for the extradition of alleged child sexual abuser Malka Leifer.

The Victorian MP met with Likud Member of the Knesset (MK) Sharren Haskel, Labor MK Michal Biran and director general of Israel’s Foreign Ministry Yuval Rotem while in Israel last week.

“I am confident the petition I presented to the Israeli Knesset on behalf of the victims and the Victorian Jewish community will build momentum to have Malka Leifer extradited to face allegations of sexual abuse,” Southwick said.

“I thank all of those 17,000 people who signed this important petition and supported the victims’ fight for justice.”

Leifer has been charged in Melbourne in relation to 74 indecent acts committed against pupils of the Adass Israel School before she fled Australia in 2008.

In a civil case brought in 2015, the Supreme Court of Victoria awarded almost $1.3 million in damages to a student at the school who had been sexually assaulted by Leifer.

In his judgment, Justice Jack Rush condemned “the destructive and evil nature of [Leifer’s] sexual abuse”.

However, last year, an Israeli judge ruled she wasn’t well enough to face extradition, but didn’t place her in a psychiatric facility.

Dassi Erlich, who was abused by Leifer, said she has been pleased to see Southwick take the lead in recent weeks and do everything he can to bring Leifer to justice.

“He called me from Israel to help in the campaign and I really appreciate that,” Erlich said.

Biran, who became aware of the efforts to extradite Leifer during her recent trip to Australia and has kept in close contact with Erlich, said the injustice has touched her as an Israeli and as a woman.

“The concerns regarding Malka Leifer are troubling, and should raise a red flag especially since there are currently no restrictions on her and she is free to even teach in Israel if she pleases,” she said.

“Who can appraise the damage that will be caused if Leifer goes back to the teaching board?

“I will continue doing anything in my power to promote Malka Leifer’s extradition and make the victims get the justice they deserve.”

Haskel said she will take the requisition to Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “as a matter of importance” because justice needs to be served.

“I am happy to receive this important petition to get Malka Leifer extradited back to Australia to face criminal charges,” she said.

JOSHUA LEVI