A couple of days ago, some of us in Karmiel’s tiny but lively Anglo seniors’ community were alarmed and angered at the thought of harbouring a paedophile in our midst.
So with a memory jolt here; a scroll through a club database there; not to mention an image of the alleged villain posted on social media, we are all convinced we helped the local social services and police to track him down within 24 hours.
But if, like me, you’re asking how he sidled past both the US and Israeli border authorities in order to settle here, the answer is vague - and mixed!
Meanwhile, amateur sleuthing aside, this past week, I’ve kindled a memorial light for my friend Julie. She died eight years ago on the brink of our emigration from Manchester after a valiant battle with leukaemia.
Anyone and everyone who knew her would agree that she was beautiful; poised, elegant and refined to a degree that did not escape the attention of our congregation’s rabbi who, several times during his funeral eulogy, described her as ‘gorgeous’.
But beauty may be a burden that carries a heavy price. Until she met her devoted final partner, Julie’s romantic life was conducted against a parade of ill-suited admirers who often treated her abominably. One, who sexually assaulted her, later threatened me when he realised that I knew what he had done.
The past eight years have seen the development of a new sexual revolution. This began with the exposés of celebrity and religious child abusers and continues with the escalating #MeToo and Time’s Up campaigns led largely by women in the entertainment industry.
What concerns me most is that for all the vulnerable women and children who are routinely attacked by men, too little attention is focused on women who sexually molest, occasionally even murder the children in their care.
I started musing on this again after viewing Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool, the superbly directed and performed biopic that documents the love affair of Hollywood femme fatale, Gloria Grahame and British actor, Peter Turner.
There was a 29 year age gap between them. But this is of little consequence compared to Grahame’s relationship with her fourth husband, Tony Ray. This began when she was still married to his father, director, Nicholas Ray, when Tony, then her stepson, was aged only 13!
I am unsure when the movie was conceived. However, filming took place in the summer of 2016 and the finished product was first released in the USA in September 2017, a bare month before the Harvey Weinstein scandal first broke.
This makes me wonder what sort of film noir may have emerged if the idea for it had germinated in the autumn of last year. No affecting ‘May to December’ romance this.
Would film-goers instead have sat in bug-eyed thrall watching a child actor play Ray Junior between the sheets with Grahame, depicted as a real-life seductress and corrupter of youth?
I think not! I guess that such a film would never see the light of day on commercial release. Even on the ‘art house’ circuit.
What’s more, I bet a one shekel coin to a pinch of salt that it would be classed as ‘porn’ as these days, such behaviour would surely have Grahame before the courts, painted every bit as black as strictly Orthodox Jewish educationist Malka Leifer.
A former teacher and principal, this woman is an Israeli resident who allegedly faked mental illness to avoid being extradited to Melbourne, Australia where she faces 74 charges of sexual crimes against pupils at the Adass Israel School.
We women are entitled to conduct our daily lives without fear of harassment, debasement or maltreatment. We want and deserve power. So we must accept the consequences when we abuse it.
© Natalie Wood (21 February 2018)