Goel Ratzon

A self-proclaimed messiah who led a cult through manipulation and control, resulting in severe crimes against his “wives” and children.

Goel Ratzon was an Israeli polygamist and cult leader, commanding a disturbing loyalty from his followers in Tel Aviv’s Hatikva neighborhood. Ratzon’s manipulative grip on his 21 “wives” and the numerous children they bore him, combined with his conviction on multiple charges including rape and incest, unveils a shocking tale of psychological dominance and sexual crimes. This article explores the intricate web of control Ratzon held over his followers, his eventual arrest and conviction, and the aftermath affecting those entangled in his deceit.

The Cult’s Dynamics

Goel Ratzon’s influence over his followers was profound. Neighbors described him as a guru-like figure, revered by his women and children. He imposed strict rules, banning the women from communicating with men, including their own brothers, and demanding absolute obedience. This control extended to financial penalties for minor transgressions and a detailed set of rules outlined in a secret document titled “The Book of the Family.” Ratzon portrayed himself as a deity, referring to his children as “Sons of God” and enforcing a lifestyle that isolated his followers from the outside world​​​​.

Manipulation Techniques

Ratzon’s methods of control were multifaceted. He utilized techniques learned during travels in India to hypnotize his followers, creating a state of blind worship. This was compounded by exploiting the vulnerabilities of young women from unstable backgrounds. Ratzon’s teachings made the women believe they were part of a divine mission, with some even acting suicidally when they feared his displeasure. He encouraged a mindset of martyrdom, instructing followers to attack the state of Israel if it harmed him​​.

Arrest and Legal Proceedings

Goel Ratzon was arrested in January 2010, suspected of slavery and sexual assaults against minors. His arrest followed surveillance operations that included hidden cameras and eavesdropping, revealing his sexual relationships with minors, including his own daughters. Despite his claims of consensual relationships based on love and respect, Ratzon was convicted in September 2014 for most of the sexual assault charges but was acquitted of slavery. He was sentenced to 30 years in prison, a decision upheld by the Supreme Court of Israel in July 2016​​​​.

Impact on Followers

The revelation of Ratzon’s crimes and his subsequent conviction sent shockwaves through Israel, challenging societal norms and legal frameworks around cult behaviors and sexual crimes. His followers, many of whom had severed ties with their families, faced a tumultuous path toward rehabilitation. The children, named after Ratzon in a manifest display of his narcissism, and the women, some of whom had tattooed his name and face on their bodies, were left to reconstruct their identities outside the shadow of his influence​​.

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