Israel’s first Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion once famously said, “When Israel has prostitutes and thieves, we’ll be a state just like any other.” Ben-Gurion’s vision of Zionism was to “normalize” the Jews. His “normal” meant having a country with a Jewish flavor that is still a state like any other, with all the vices inherent therein.
This was a great aspiration at the time given the urgency of restoring the Jewish people to sovereignty in the Land of Israel. However, it would have been nice if Ben-Gurion had referred to other social problems that did not offend basic morality and Jewish values.
Maybe prostitution—or, to be more accurate, human trafficking—is “normal” in the sense that it is an unavoidable phenomenon in any society. It’s even mentioned in the Bible, which contains many examples of prostitution. These include Judah seeking out the comfort of Tamar, who is disguised as a prostitute to avoid being identified as his daughter-in-law. As perverse as this was, something good came from it, since their liaison resulted in the lineage of King David.
In today’s world, however, human trafficking is nothing to promote, aspire to or participate in. Women need to be rescued from it, period.
That is all I can think about when I read the horrific accounts of the recent trafficking of female guards at an Israeli prison. There are now so many women coming forward to testify about how they were trafficked that I have a hard time keeping track of them. Each of the victims describes disturbingly similar scenarios of rape and other forms of sexual harassment, corroborating each other’s stories.
That the Jewish men in charge of prisons and the Jewish guards who enabled the trafficking saw no problem with any of this is repulsive. Still worse, the women were trafficked to Palestinian Arab terrorist prisoners. These terrorists already think Israel is evil, and such behavior only reinforces this view.
When Adolf Eichmann, the Nazi war criminal and architect of the Holocaust, was captured and brought to Israel to face justice, some argued against the death penalty for a variety of reasons. One suggestion was that he be sentenced to live in Israel among the Jews he tried to exterminate. Many Israelis at the time still bore their concentration camp tattoos, and the idea of Eichmann living among us, among them, no doubt sent chills down their spines and caused repeated nightmares.
If it were up to me, anyone involved in the trafficking of Israeli women to Palestinian Arab terrorists, or any other prisoners, should be sentenced to serve their time as roommates of the terrorists, with no access to women whatsoever.
Ben-Gurion and his successor Golda Meir had a close and important relationship. He entrusted Golda with such things as secret negotiations with the Arabs, raising badly-needed funds for the emerging state and serving in overseas delegations and eventually as ambassador to the USSR. But it seems they disagreed on at least one thing.
In a 1973 interview, Golda spoke about prostitution in Israeli society. She took the opposite position from Ben-Gurion, saying, “I thought that a Jewish state would be free of the evils afflicting other societies: theft, murder, prostitution. … But now we have them all. And that’s a thing that cuts to the heart.”
I am sure that Golda is turning over in her grave, and I hope Ben-Gurion is as well, at the trafficking of Israeli women to terrorists. May we never see such disgusting news again, or ever think that such things are normal in a Jewish state.
Jonathan Feldstein is a former Soviet Jewry activist, born and educated in the United States, who immigrated to Israel in 2004. He is president of the Genesis 123 Foundation, building bridges between Jews and Christians and Christians and Israel, and writes and broadcasts regularly in a variety of Christian media, sharing the experience of living as an Orthodox Jew in Israel. He can be reached at email@example.com.