Heritage Florida Jewish News - Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

By Mel Pearlman

Open letter to the #MeToo movement


December 28, 2018

In this year’s Time Magazine’s Person of the Year edition, editor Edward Felsenthal published a letter from 12 of the Silence Breakers (Time Magazine’s 2017 Person of the Year). In the letter to Time Magazine the 12 authors tell of the hardships they and the other Silence Breakers endured this past year as whistle blower’s in publicizing the widespread sexual harassment and abuse plaguing almost every aspect of American life; and the important work still to be done to “formalize and expand their push for enduring reforms.”

In explaining the work to be done in achieving true accountability, not only from the actual abusers, but from the institutions and organizations whose culture aided and abetted this unacceptable behavior or looked the other way to protect their own status and interests, they write:

“...No leader of an organization who fails to create structures and incentives that protect its most vulnerable members should be left in charge. No person in a position of leadership who looks the other way should be in a powerful position that others might depend on. Did leadership create or permit an unsafe working environment? Just as there are regulations protecting worker’s occupational safety and health, the careers of those subjected to sexual harassment should be protected and defended.”

The letter continues: “When companies, schools and organizations have positions in which people are expected to render ethical judgments, then a failure to do so even in a single case, must be grounds for removal. That is what it means to take seriously the issues that motivated the #MeToo movement.”

These are powerful words that should be supported by fair-minded Americans of every political persuasion, including those who espouse them. These powerful words should also directly apply to all the organizations to which the authors of the letter belong or support.

In that spirit, I call upon the #MeToo movement to do a self-examination of their own organization and to root out every semblance of the disease of anti-Semitism that pervades, infects and corrodes their own moral standing; and to purge every current leader of this organization who in the past or presently, supports, associates with, or who themselves are infected with or carriers of the disease of anti-Semitism.

Anti-Semitic leaders in this organization and other organizations undermine the moral underpinnings of otherwise worthwhile and valid causes. No organization in America, no matter how worthy its cause, is entitled to success or achievement of its announced purpose or goals if it seeks support from those who gratuitously, embrace hatred of Jews or the right of the Jewish people to their ancestral homeland.

Sexual harassment and abuse is a disease much like anti-Semitism; and the Nation needs to obliterate both if it wishes to continue the march to achieving a more perfect union.

If I may paraphrase the words, of the Hippocratic oath, taken by physicians for over two millennia, all American institutions and organizations, as well as their individual members should “heal thyself” of these dreadful diseases.

In you wish to comment or respond you can reach me at melpearlman322@gmail.com. Please do so in a rational, thoughtful, respectful and civil manner. Shabbat Shalom and Happy New Year!

Mel Pearlman holds both a B.S. and M.S in physics as well as a J.D. degree and came to Florida initially to work on the Gemini and Apollo space programs as a young physicist. He has been practicing law in Central Florida for the past 45 years. He has served as president of the Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando; on the District VII Mental Health Board, as Special Prosecutor for the City of Winter Park, Florida; and on the Board of Directors of the Central Florida Research and Development Authority. He was a charter member of the Board of Directors and served as the first Vice President of the Holocaust Memorial Resource and Education Center of Central Florida, as well as its first pro-bono legal counsel.


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