President Reuven Rivlin spoke and presented awards for outstanding contributions in the fight against human trafficking Sunday night. This year, the awards were given to the National Center for Treatment of Survivors of Human Trafficking, and to Chief Superintendant Roni Kayam for his contribution to the fight against human trafficking in directing law enforcement in all areas of the field and his devoted work to identifying victims. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Minister of Social Equality Gila Gamliel, Deputy Speaker of the Knesset Revital Sweid, Director-General of the Ministry of Justice Emi Palmor and ambassadors of various countries also participated in the ceremony. Corinne Elal performed two of her songs.
“This decoration is the only one awarded by the State of Israel,” said the president. “There is an important statement about the significance of the fight against human trafficking and about its place at the top of our values as humans, as a people and as a country. I also believe it is a strong sign that we have understood one of the basic moral commandments that were given to us as a people: ‘remember that you too were slaves in Egypt.’ We all carry the gene of repression and slavery and the memories of oppressors and persecutors, taskmasters and overlords flows in our blood. But we also have compassion, empathy and above all the obligation not to stand by that flows within us.”
President Rivlin continued: “As individuals, as a people, as a society, as a state we must not support this. We cannot stand by. We must not close our eyes to this violence.”
On the question of the ongoing struggle to eliminate violence against women, which is currently at the heart of the public discourse, the president said: “We must not forget that the war to eliminate violence against women has several battlegrounds, and we still need nothing less than a revolution. There is a great deal of work still before us. Punishment must be effective and significant. Law enforcement and supervision must be strong enough and at the same time sensitive and vigilant. We must treat the traffickers and pimps harshly and, on the other hand, extend a hand of compassion and support to the victims of human trafficking.”
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu stated at the ceremony: “The barrier we constructed on the Sinai border to stop the streams of illegal infiltrators into our country has helped us a great deal. It stops the wholesale trafficking in women into Israel who, in the past, were tortured and badly exploited. There were convoys of infiltrators, slave traders that would attack the convoy, kidnap the children, amputate limbs, rape the women, make them into slaves, and that is what was happening in a huge radius around us.
"Radical Islam has brought disaster to huge areas, and lost all moral restraint. Murder, violence, rape, causing injury for money and just because of evil – these are regular occurrences. It is heartbreaking to hear the outrages against the Yazidi women, the never-ending saga of the Nigerian girls kidnapped by Boko Haram fanatics which the President of Chad told me about. It is hearbreaking to see the mass forced marriages of young girls in Yemen and other countries," he added.
"The UN Human Rights Council hypocritically chooses to criticize Israel night and day. Why don’t they make any effort at all to make the lives of those millions of miserable people better? As a country that aspires to be a light to the nations, look all around us. We are a great beacon in the darkness. We will continue to fight with all our might against human trafficking and at the same time against violence against women," the prime minister concluded.
Minister of Social Equality Gila Gamliel stated: “Human trafficking is an affliction that we all, as a society, have a moral responsibility to deal with in order to protect our humanity and respect. After years when this problem was growing in Israel, there were those who rang the alarm bells in time and raise consciousness so that the issue took a significant part in public discourse. The government worked together and as a result Israel has now been rated highly in this fight. We must continue to work to eradicate this plague totally. Human bodies are not forfeit, and we will not stand by.”
Emi Palmor, Director-General of the Ministry of Justice and head of the committee of directors-general for the fight against human trafficking, said: “The Ministry of Justice established the government’s unit to coordinate the fight against human trafficking because we understood that only if all the governmental agencies and civil society organizations work together will we achieve results. Year after year, Israel is in the US State Department’s highest ranking, and we will continue to fight diligently and together to eradicate this sickening phenomenon from the State of Israel.”