Ending the party of abuse

Israel is a safe haven for pedophiles, and every other week a daycare worker is accused of abuse. Here is a possible solution. Opinion.

Chana Roberts ,


Israel is a safe haven for sex offenders. So safe, in fact, that in 2015, when educator and activist Rabbi Yakov Horowitz tweeted a warning that a convicted sex offender was in Har Nof, and compared him to a terrorist, he was taken to court.

The case is still ongoing.

Israel is so safe for pedophiles and other sex offenders that Malka Leifer, who is wanted on 74 counts of sexual abuse, has not yet been extradited to Australia to stand trial. Her extradition trial is scheduled for September.

The list of sex offenders enjoying protection in Israel is long. But it's not just about sex offenders.

Every other week or so, another daycare worker is accused of abuse. Last year, a daycare worker suffocated 14-month-old Yasmin Vineta to death. The murder was discovered only thanks to video cameras which the staff believed to be broken. Otherwise, it would have seemed to be a case of SIDS, unexplained infant death.

In May, a female daycare worker from Herzliya was placed under 5 days of house arrest after being accused of abusing children in her charge.

More recently, a preschool teacher from the central city of Rosh Ha'ayin was accused with severely abusing her young charges. Abuse included shoving food into their mouths until they vomited, and then forcing them to eat their vomit; tying their hands and feet to chairs; sitting on children who refused to sleep, and more.

These are but a few examples; there are dozens, if not hundreds, more.

What is more significant about this is that several women accused of abusing young children go back to their former profession when they are released from prison. Since not every case is followed by the news and not every Israeli follows the news, these women succeed in reopening their daycares.

Perhaps some of them regret their actions and have bettered their ways in the meantime. But others, decidedly, have not.

After 14-month-old Vineta was killed last year, parents and legislators pushed to install cameras in every daycare. A law mandating cameras did pass, but it is unlikely to prevent abuse. Rather, it will protect the innocent from false accusations, and allow us to convict the guilty after the fact.

What, then, will prevent at least some of Israel's children from becoming these abusers' next victims?

The answer, I believe, is simple: Lists.

The US has a list of convicted sex offenders, rated by levels.

Israel does not have such a list. But Israel needs one - or rather, two: One list of convicted sex offenders. And a second list of daycare workers and preschool teachers convicted of abuse and/ or neglect.

Such a list would allow parents to investigate whether their local daycare provider is known for being abusive. Laws would require providers to provide their identity numbers to any parent requesting the information, and would allow daycare providers to avoid hiring problematic assistants.

Israel would also do well to publicize every convicted daycare and preschool teacher's photo and full name on local posters, so that citizens who missed the news items would be aware of the dangers.

This would also add to the shame involved, allowing dangerous individuals to be ostracized by their communities, and adding to the providers' fear of losing control.

Israel can also require all childcare providers to present to their employers a police document stating that they have no criminal records. This, though, would not affect private daycares: Laws would need to allow parents to demand to see such a document, and parents themselves would need to take responsibility for requesting it.

In short, there are several steps Israel can take to help prevent future cases of abuse.

But first, Israel's parents must admit that cameras are not a solution, that abusers come from both genders, and that they, the parents, will need to bear the responsibility for investigating whether childcare providers have criminal records.