Yisrael Valis: Two Versions of a Story

You may also like...

16 Responses

  1. HILLEL says:

    A typical set-up job–bad cop, good cop. This story has the ring of truth to it.

  2. Ori Pomerantz says:

    At the risk of sounding heartless, is anything being done to prevent the next misunderstanding between Magen David Adom and members of the Yiddish speaking community? Being able to communicate symptoms, etc. with the medics could save a patient’s life.

    Maybe there should be a 24/7 rotation of translators, who will do this as Gmilut Chasadim and Pikuach Nefesh.

  3. Moshe says:

    Just for your information:

    The EMT’s who treated him at the scene were Hareidi. They were members of Hatzolah. The ambulance driver (head of crew) lives in Bayit Vegan and has a long beard and a big black yarmulke on his head.

    When that information is digested, the ‘miscommunication’ with MDA sounds a bit less likely than if MDA EMT’s were earring wearing Hiloni people who dislike Haredim.

    One of the witnesses for the *prosecution* was a haredi EMT who asked the Father what happened to the child, and he was told that he turned over in bed and accidentaly pushed the child into the wall. Please note that this was not a Hiloni testifying – rather, one of the fellow Hareidim of the accused. It may be that he was scared to tell the truth due to fear of his Mother in Law (whom he surely feared much more than the zionist police), but there are still gaps in the story.

    The protocol of the court case is available online, and one thing that must be said is that Mr. Vallis has a top-notch lawyer. This is evident simply by reading the protocol – his lawyer is far better than the prosecution. The prosecution has not yet brought their witnesses, but unless they have rock solid proof, there is no doubt in my mind that Mr. Vallis will be found innoccent.

  4. David says:

    Thank for taking the time to research and present the family’s point of view.

    It sounds strange to me that he was instructed by MDA to slap and pinch a bleeding, injured baby. Are there recordings of the telephone conversation or witnesses willing to testify that he was instructed to do so?

    It seems probable that if there were signs of pinching and physical blows the prosecutors would claim he attacked the child out of frustration and anger at his incessant crying, before his excessive rocking sent the poor baby flying against the wall.

    The confession sounds as if it would be dismissed by any reasonable court, and I do not know how I would react under similar pressures, but why would anyone think that lying and admitting he’d committed a serious crime, possibly murder, would help his situation? There is a serious fault in his personality, upbringing, and education if he could be so foolish and shortsighted.

    The chareidi community of Meah Shearim, at least according to their wall posters, viewed this event as an attack on their insular way of life, “against the holiness of our community.” They framed it as part of a larger attempt to infiltrate their community and force social changes or the like.

    If they are producing individuals who may be unable to properly manage their anger and frustration, or perhaps even worse, and yet are completely unwilling to deal with these problems, this is a very disturbing issue.

    Furthermore, the community’s reaction to the perceived “blood libel” was violent and destructive of city property that I must pay for with my taxes, and completely indefensible.

    I think SephardiLady made the best comment I’ve seen: “If you’re tired and frustrated at all the crying, put the baby down and go into another room.” (Not exact quote). That is something practical we can all learn from this, and teach to our children.

  5. Ori Pomerantz says:

    Causing pain to discover if somebody is conscious is a standard part of first aid. However, there are specific places and ways in which you’re supposed to do so, to make sure you don’t hurt them further. AFAIK, slapping is never part of it – and pinching is supposed to be done in specific places.

  6. tzvee says:

    With all due respect, this is not a credible counter narrative to the news stories. The police and hospital have no agenda, contrary to the underlying insinuations and the outright charges that they intend to make the chareidi community look bad. The father does have an agenda, to clear himself of serious charges and to stay out of jail. The community has an agenda – to whitewash its reputation. Sarah writes a heart rending story — but if it is based on interviews, where are the references to who said what to her? Weaving this together as a seamless narrative does no service to the cause of getting to the truth. It makes the story sound like just that – a pathetic story.

  7. Steve Brizel says:

    As I suggested previously, what we see here is an example of why confessions are viewed as almost inherently unreliable by the Anglo-American legal syste,-especially under stress, anxiety and in the absence of counsel. We also see that someone on the medical staff con concocted evidence of abuse when none was present. As more and more details unfold, the prosecution’s case herein seems more and more shaky and approximating a rapidly developing and collapsing house of cards. Once again, the secular press enjoyed a feeding frenzy on this story in a manner completely similar to the claim that the IDF, as opposed to Hamas laid land mines, caused “civilian casualties” in Gaza.

  8. Micha says:

    WADR, it would seem to me that Haaretz gave one side of the story, Mrs Shapiro is to be credited for giving the other side of the story (unfortunately in a smaller venue). However, it seems from the reporting that the Chareidi masses are convinced of the second camp, that a history of confrontation with the police convinced them that in this case, the father must be innocent. Down to rioting at the injustice of arresting and arraigning him. And yet, it reads like the police themselves are the only one who haven’t taken sides.

  9. yosef says:

    I don’t know if Sarah Shapiro was told the truth – certainly this version of events is plausable – and I won’t rule out the possibility that the baby was killed exactly as Sarah’s sources say.

    However, I do know two things: (1) Dropping a baby off a bed would not cause the sort of injuries reported here. A three-month old’s head is still soft, as a form of natural protecction against this exactly. (2) Criminal defense lawyers make their living concoting exactly the sort of story Sarah tells here.

    Again, I wish to reiterate that I don’t know what happened, and that I refuse to say that Yisroel Valis killed his child. But given that the community and the family have an agenda the police don’t share (as Tvee pointed out) and, also, given that the injuries don’t match the accident I don’t think Sarah’s story is exculpatory.

    A jury needs to hear all the facts and make a decision. Until that happenes the media and the blogs should wait patiently, and resist the urge to muddy the waters and escalate the bad blood with absurd allegations against the media, the police, or the Eduth Haredi community.

  10. Moshe says:

    OK:

    I don’t have the full protocol in front of me, but from todays court hearing it seems that the Police lied to the press.

    Basically, according to the police, the father admitted his guilt to one person – a police officer by the name of Brikman – the fellow mentioned in article above. He did not admit guilt to anyone else. Only to Brikman. When interrogated by the policewoman, he denied everything, and that is all written up in the police report.

    After he admitted his guilt to Brikman, the policewoman was interviewed by the press (TV, radio, newspaper), and she told them that the Father told her that the child was born with a disability, and ‘he didn’t want him’.

    It seems that the Father said no such thing, and she made up the statement in order to smear the father. Additionally, she claimed that the ‘she couldn’t handle hearing the Fathers description [of beating his child]’.

    Unfortunately for her, not only could she not handle it – she never heard it at all, and she admitted that fact on the witness stand.

    Info from part of the protocol found here:
    http://hydepark.hevre.co.il/topic.asp?topic_id=1966976

    As I said before – his lawyer is VERY good. Should anyone ever need a good criminal lawyer in Israel, look him up – and win the lottery in order to pay for him.

  11. Yaakov Menken says:

    Yosef,

    You can say that a three-month-old baby wouldn’t have these injuries from an accidental fall, but one of Israel’s leading neurosurgeons says otherwise.

  12. Sarah Shapiro says:

    As the writer of the above article, I would like to respond to some of the comments in order of their appearance:

    Ori Pomerantz, in # 2, asks: “[Is] anything being done to prevent the next misunderstanding between Magen David Adom and members of the Yiddish speaking community?”

    I appreciate her prescience. In relation not only to the particular problem of communication but also to the incident as a whole, one of the neighbors whom I interviewed, a middle-aged mother, said, “You know why we’re so angry about this? Because now people will be scared to call an ambulance when something happens.”

    In regard to comment #3, by Moshe, that “the EMT’s who treated him at the scene were Hareidi” and “’miscommunication’ with MDA sounds a bit less likely than if MDA EMT’s were earring wearing Hiloni people who dislike Haredim.”

    One of those on the Magen David ambulance team that night, who suspected Yisrael Valis of abuse, was an eighteen-year-old haredi girl who speaks no Yiddish.

    From what I could gather within the limited scope of personal interviews, it appears that on the night of the baby’s injury, there were honest misunderstandings, misperceptions and missteps from the outset, across the board.

    Moshe continues that “one of the witnesses for the prosecution was a haredi EMT who asked the Father what happened to the child, and he was told that he turned over in bed and accidentaly pushed the child into the wall.”

    With allowances for mistranslation, this is basically consistent with what members of the family told me. My guess, though, is that in his panic, Yisrael Valis might not have been completely sure himself exactly how it happened that he dropped his baby.

    Moshe speculates: “It may be that he was scared to tell the truth due to fear of his Mother in Law (whom he surely feared much more than the zionist police)…”

    Though I am aware (as a mother-in-law) that we are a feared species, the mother-in-law of Yisrael Valis is reportedly not his adversary. What I was told is that the couple had stayed in her home after the birth, and that she supports her son-in-law and does not suspect him of fabrication.

    David, in question #5, asks “why would anyone think that lying and admitting he’d committed a serious crime, possibly murder, would help his situation?”

    This was my question, too, which I asked repeatedly during interviews. Signing a false confession would seem, on the face of it, to have been an act of inexplicable stupidity.

    Their response was that because Yisrael Valis was being forbidden during the all-night police interrogation from seeing his son (or the rest of his family), he was swayed by the assurance by the Yiddish-speaking officer that all he had to do was confess and he would be released. The family also told me that Yisrael Valis, age 19, was a young man who had little if any experience with the outside world, and was admittedly naïve. They said that 36 hours without rest — sleep deprivation is, of course, a regular feature of police interrogation – also played a part, increasing his vulnerability. We can assume that many of us would not be at our most coherent under such circumstances.

    David continues: “Furthermore, the community’s reaction to the perceived ‘blood libel’ was violent and destructive of city property that I must pay for with my taxes, and completely indefensible.”

    Personally, I agree that violent demonstrations on behalf of Orthodox causes usually achieve nothing but a grave chillul Hashem, and harm whatever cause is being championed. It should be noted that the rabbis who protested the “blood libel” beseeched the demonstrators to cease from such actions, and that the Valis family sent cars around the neighborhood with loudspeakers asking demonstrators to disperse. These requests were ignored.

    As was the case with the anti-Shobbos-desecration demonstrations on Jerusalem’s Bar Ilan Street a decade or so ago, those haredim who participate in violent demonstrate are often boys and young men who seem motivated in large part (not unlike soccer fans) by the desire to show up in force and cheer for their team.

    Tzvee in comment #7 writes that the police and hospital have no agenda. Not having spoken to any of these people, I have nothing but unsubstantiated guesses on this score. But I can see where both parties might feel the need to justify their actions – the hospital for steadfastly resisting the family’s pleas for immediate medical care upon the baby’s arrival at the hospital, and the police for their behavior during the interrogation.

    Micha, in comment #9, says: “[It] seems from the reporting that the Chareidi masses are convinced…that…the father must be innocent.”

    This is far from my impression. While the Yerushalmi community of Yisrael Valis is convinced of his innocence, other Orthodox people whom I’ve spoken to — while refraining from explicit pronouncements of guilt — seem to have inwardly believed what they read in the papers, as I did myself.

    Yosef, in #10, writes: “I don’t know if Sarah Shapiro was told the truth.”

    Either do I. All I can say is that the people I spoke to struck me as truthful.

    “However,” he continues, “I do know two things: (1) Dropping a baby off a bed would not cause the sort of injuries reported here. A three-month old’s head is still soft, as a form of natural protecction against this exactly.”

    The family’s opinion is that on the contrary, it might have been precisely on account of the softness of the head that the injuries proved so serious.

    Yosef also writes: “(2) Criminal defense lawyers make their living concoting exactly the sort of story Sarah tells here.”

    That may well be so. But in this case, the story I heard came from family members, not lawyers.

    Sarah Shapiro, June 28, 2006

  13. yosef says:

    You can say that a three-month-old baby wouldn’t have these injuries from an accidental fall, but one of Israel’s leading neurosurgeons says otherwise.

    Rabbi Menken, forgive me, but I see nothing about Israel’s leading neurosurgeon at the website you directed me to. Anyway, isn’t this a question for a forensic laboratory, rather than a neurosurgeon? A neurosurgeon treats traumatic head injuries. He doesn’t tell us how they happened.

  14. Moshe says:

    Sarah-

    I’m curious as to this 19 year old Hareidi girl EMT who spoke no yiddish.

    As an EMT, this sounds very fishy. I don’t know of _ANY_ Haredi EMT 19 year old girls/

    I did not see any 19 year old Haredi girl mentioned in the transcript.

    Moreover, I know the ambulance driver in question. The fact that you claim he had a 19 year old Haredi girl in his crew is laughable.

    I cannot deny that there may have been additional ambulance crews who arrived – that had a 19 year old NON-HAREDI girl, but at the scene, there were plenty of EMT’s who could speak yiddish. If you don’t know how to speak in Hebrew, it makes sense to talk in yiddish to the people who understand yiddish

  15. Sarah Shapiro says:

    To Moshe:

    The Magen David assistant who was in the ambulance that night is a friend of the daughter of my post-operative friend (mentioned in my article) through whom I eventually met relatives of Yisrael Valis.

    I have her name. She belongs to Chabad and doesn’t speak Yiddish.

    Your point is well-taken. Though she was described to me as “haredi,” her presence as an employee in a Magen David ambulance would probably set her in the “modern Orthodox” category.

    Magen David ordinarily employs young people — both male and female — to help with the patients. This in not in contradiction to the fact that the driver was haredi.

Pin It on Pinterest