Recently, I read an article by Erica Tucker of Global News concerning Lev Tahor. The crux of her article is that Lev Tahor launched a public relations campaign to improve their image in the face of the negative media exposure that they are receiving, not so much geared to the public, but as an internal communications strategy to solidify their grip on cult members.
I’m sure by now you have heard all about this cult – the allegations child welfare officials, the courts and media coverage about child abuse, beatings, children forcibly being removed from their parents and being placed with other parents as a form of punishment, underage marriages as young as 14 years, children sleeping in urine soaked beds, poor hygiene, low educational standards, running away from the law, and applying for refugee status in Guatemala and Trinidad – all in the name of avoiding prosecution and defying the courts by leaving Canada to avoid facing charges and evidence of their abuse of children.
The cult first left Quebec for Chatham, Ontario hurriedly before a sentence could be enforced by that province’s child welfare system. Once they got to Chatham, they again were required to face Ontario’s judicial system for these same allegations. But they again attempted to outrun the courts by fleeing to Guatemala.
I have to agree with Erica Tucker. The cult is not so much concerned with their public image, but more so with their public relations image amongst their own members.
Let’s face it. They really don’t care what the public thinks. They have yet to provide evidence that the allegations of abuse, neglect, child abuse and the other countless allegations are false. All they do is deny the allegations.
In the face of these types of allegations, any sensible individual would make every; and all attempts to disprove them.
Denial of these allegations is not a substitute for proof that they are false!
Then there is the issue of blatantly thumbing their noses at child welfare officials and the courts – twice. This should be proof enough of their guilt.
The only thing that they have done is find a wannabee communications coordinator who many feel lacks credibility and is only an antagonist who hitches her wagon to the next questionable crusade. They then continue their crusade singing the same song of “We’re Jewish and That’s Why Everyone Hates Us”, and wearing yellow stars of David to invoke sympathy from Christians and Jews alike.
Well, it won’t work! Firstly, because they haven’t even tried to prove that the media and public opinion is wrong. There is a saying in public relations and politics: You can either let the courts decide, or the media can decide. Well in this case, just by reporting on the allegations, with no proof provided by Lev Tahor to counteract any of these allegations, rightfully the media has painted a picture that Lev Tahor is guilty. This view may have been reinforced by the fact that they fled twice so as not to face the courts.
The only effect of wearing the yellow of Stars of David, which in its own right is a perverse attack on the memories of the millions who perished during the holocaust, is to antagonize others. Many of those within the Jewish community who were either ignorant of Lev Tahor, or just had no opinion have now been converted to be against them. In saying this, once again Lev Tahor doesn’t care about what the public feels about them.
Jews during the holocaust were persecuted because they were Jews. The Jews of Lev Tahor are being “so called” persecuted because they are abusing their members, starting with children. The leaders of the cult refuse to admit this, and they refuse to cooperate with authorities.
One of the golden rules of any communications strategy is to be honest and transparent. Never do battle with the public and especially with the media. It will come back to bite you. Just look at Superior Court Justice Lynda Templeton. who was so incensed by Lev Tahor’s behaviour and defiance of the court order that she was quoted as saying:
My expectation is, so it’s clear, that if these children are returned on a plane that they will be apprehended at the doors of the plane as soon as it lands.
Josh Greenberg of the Carleton University’s School of Journalism and Communication got it right when he said in the article:
This nevertheless presents a framing dilemma for the sect’s leaders: on the one hand, the need to reinforce a belief that they are being persecuted for their religious values is fundamental to the hold they exert over community members; on the other hand, they need to be careful not to amplify anxiety to a point where it can no longer be controlled.
All the leaders of Lev Tahor are trying to do is keep control over their cult members by reinforcing the message that everyone hates us because we’re Jews, and creating a “them vs. us mentality”.
It’s sad. Had they undertaken the tactic of cooperation and honesty, instead of defiance and just pure denial, the leaders and the cult would be receiving a lot more sympathy. Their leaders don’t care about their members as evidenced by the allegations before them. All they are trying to do is increase their stranglehold and the control which they currently have on their community, and only for their own ends.