No doubt these prohibitions will make prostitution in Israel as unknown as it already is in Las Vegas.
The Knesset recently gave its final approval to one of the stupidest pieces of legislation in recent years. It is ostensively a law against "human trafficking". In fact, it is a legislative excursion into the trafficking of political correctness that will produce considerable harm. The new law's damages go well beyond the scope of trying to legislate away "trafficking" of prostitutes.
First, I guess I must have been out of the room when prostitution morphed into "human trafficking". But prostitution is prostitution, not human trafficking, and calling it "human trafficking" is highly misleading. Prostitutes may be a lot of things, but they are generally not slaves, media mythology notwithstanding. Certainly today in industrialized countries, most of them (of both genders) ply their trade by choice, pathetic as that fact may be. And in Israel, any "working girl" seeking to leave the profession need only walk into any shelter, police station, or dial 100 (Israel's 911).
Israel, like every single other society in history, has plenty of hookers. Prostitution is largely out in the open, with the daily newspapers, tourist magazines, and sometimes billboards filled with ads for "escort services" and "massages". The Caring Classes have never had much to say against those. Leftist journalists and professors regularly call for recognizing the "sex industry" as a productive sector contributing to the gross national product, and oppose massive roundups of prostitutes.
Some of the hookers in Israel are recruits from overseas, mainly from the poorer parts of Eastern Europe. These are sometimes smuggled into Israel by pimps or "brokers" of sorts, while in other cases they enter as tourists. These are the "trafficked humans" for whom the Caring Classes are suddenly concerned. The press likes to carry lurid stories about prostitutes being "enslaved" by their pimps and beaten, abused, etc. It is especially fond of stories about nice innocent Ukrainian girls having been tricked off their farms into entering Israel, thinking they would work as cashiers or models, and then being leased out to pimps.
I do not believe there is a single prostitute in Israel who came to the country as part of being "deceived" into thinking she would get work as a stenographer. And if there WERE such a person, she could go to any cop, any lawyer, or any women's shelter to get a combative feminist attorney to set things right and sue the pants off any pimps or "traffickers" involved.
Previous Israeli laws already granted free public legal representation to women claiming they had been defrauded as part of "human trafficking" and also set up taxpayer-financed shelters for them. And since most of the prostitutes evidently speak Russian, along with a million ordinary Israelis, they have no problems communicating nor getting all the information they need about their rights.
The new law passed a few weeks ago again makes "human trafficking" illegal (but not prostitution itself). It makes beating up prostitutes illegal, but only by "traffickers", apparently not by customers. The new law was the initiative of the far-leftist Meretz party, along with some other individual Knesset members and leftist NGOs.
Before the new law, "human trafficking" was already illegal in Israel, including when it involves any fraudulent acts to get someone to leave her own country to come to work in Israel in prostitution. The new law prohibits pimps from "buying" and "selling" street walkers among themselves, which was already illegal in any case. No doubt these prohibitions will make prostitution in Israel as unknown as it already is in Las Vegas. In any case, all a "trafficker" now need do to get around the law is to sign the Moldava working girl on a notarized affidavit that says she knows what kind of work awaits her in the Land of Milk and Honey.
The new law simply makes the punishments for pimps stronger, with imprisonment up to 20 years (for trafficking in a minor) and in other cases 16 years, plus forfeit of all property of the "trafficker". By making it harder for the prosecution to strike plea bargains with pimps, the law actually guarantees that few will do real jail time.
There are other "feel-good" laws on the books in Israel, but in the case of this new law, the damages go well beyond those already noted. There are several reasons for this.
First, the definition of "human trafficking" and "enslavement" in the law is so loose that it can be applied to any foreign worker who is employed in Israel in legitimate, legal jobs, anything from home-care work to construction. Anytime one of these workers now wishes to breach a labor contract, or anytime some liberal lawyer or other bleeding heart decides that such workers are "underpaid" (for example when they are paid less than Israeli citizens), the floodgates of litigation will open. The bleeding hearts have long sought to price all such foreign workers out of the Israeli labor market altogether, by requiring artificially high wages and benefits for them. Should they suceed in eliminating the employment of "guest workers," they will damage the Israeli economy enormously, while forcing those same workers to return home to jobs that offer them wages at a fifth or less of what they get "underpaid" in Israel. It remains to be seen whether all ordinary Israeli labor contracts will become breachable by people claiming they also have been "enslaved" through them.
Second, the law contains several "add-ons" that have nothing to do with prostitution but nevertheless could be enormously harmful. The law prohibits "trafficking in human organs" and also "trafficking in children or minors", which could make some international adoptions problematic.
The prohibition on "trafficking in human organs" makes it illegal to buy or sell body parts, such as organ donations from living or from dead donors. The prohibition is general and even applies to voluntary donors. Now, it may well be that it is more dignified and ethical when organ donations are made by donors (or their immediate family members when the donor has died) with no monetary remuneration. But it is also true that the quantity of such donations is only a tiny fraction of the need for organs. It is a fact of life that allowing people to pay for and receive payment for organ donations makes the supply of donor organs increase significantly. Prohibition of such payment arrangements amounts to a death sentence for many of those awaiting organs. It is true that sometimes the sources for these organs may be poorer countries, where people (and surviving family members) are willing to sell them. But the squeamishness we all feel about such commerce ends the moment someone we knows really needs such an organ.
There are also potential problems in the blanket prohibition on transporting minors from outside Israel into Israel. As long as the prohibition refers to transport for purposes of employment in prostitution, all such laws are welcome. But the language of the new law's prohibition might make it difficult for infertile Israeli families to adopt children from overseas. For many years, such families have adopted children from other countries, in many cases making large payments for the children, and in some cases using "gray" and "informal" channels for the adoptions. (There are very few children inside Israel available for adoption, in part thanks to Israel's abortion-on-demand rules.) Could such families now face prosecution for "human trafficking" in minors?
Since the time of Genesis, no one has known how to eliminate prostitution as a social ill. My personal preference is to use zoning to confine it to special geographic areas, well away from residential neighborhoods and minors and economists. In the case of Israel, Nablus, Kalkiliya and Khan Yunis strike me as promising potential locations. But the new Knesset initiative is not at all designed to end this scourge. It is a "feel-good" law whose ability to end mistreatment of prostitutes by their "traffickers" is dubious, while at the same time it creates quite a few other unintended damages.
(Text of draft of new law in Hebrew here