Friday, January 10, 2014

Selling Women In The Jewish State

Rabbi Daniel Gordis writes about the incredible shame that is the ongoing trafficking of women, to be used as sex-slaves and prostitutes, in Israel. He argues, compellingly, that while Israel (rightly) demands that the Palestinians recognize it as a Jewish state, Israel also has the undeniable responsibility of acting Jewishly. And, to state the (hopefully) obvious, that would mean doing everything humanly possible to protect the weakest and most vulnerable in society, and not allowing some of them to be forced into a life of prostitution:

The Chief Rabbinate, of course, is silent; powerless women aren’t very high on its list of priorities. The haredi modesty patrols, too busy measuring the lengths of women’s sleeves and skirts, do absolutely nothing to keep the men, many from their own communities, away from brothels and “discreet apartments.” The mainstream press has reported the story, but without finger- pointing. Why? Because women at the very bottom of the social food chain don’t worry many people – especially when they provide men with sex.
We’re right to point the spotlight at the Palestinians, noting that part of the impasse in the negotiations stems from their refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state. But if that moniker is so important to us, shouldn’t the content be as well? In a genuinely Jewish state, women’s bodies wouldn’t be for sale.

Of course, this is far from just an Israeli problem. Sex trafficking happens in every country, including our own. It almost is certainly happening, right now, in whatever city you're in. According to, over 100,000 children (to say nothing of adults, who aren't mostly "making a decision to prostitute themselves") are trafficked, sold, raped and otherwise exploited, every year. 

The average age of a newly trafficked child is 13. Average. You should be shuddering just thinking about what has to happen to get the average age that low.

It should shock and outrage us that, in this day and age, in this wealthy, powerful country, this continues. We should be losing sleep, knowing that this is happening. It should be on the news, constantly. Leaders--political, religious, communal and other--should be talking about it. I honestly don't know why, for the most part, we aren't.

Ideally, I'd have a "what now" to write. I'd explain that, if you are outraged about this, as I hope you are, then you can learn more at this program we're running, or attend this rally that we're supporting. I don't have anything like that. This is an issue that's come up as a potential cause to pursue here at Congregation Beth Am a couple of times, but it's always fallen by the wayside. Hopefully, we'll be able to correct that in the near future.

But, at the very least (the very, very least), let's start with awareness. Let's start with not hiding from the fact that toddlers are used in pornography and pre-teens are sold and raped. 

It's sickening that, in the Jewish State, this is allowed to happen. It's not one bit less sickening that it happens in our own home.

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