U.S. funds to Israel on human trafficking - Printable Version
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U.S. funds to Israel on human trafficking - rockclimber - 01-02-2008 05:26 AM
U.S. funds to Israel on human trafficking
The U.S. State Department allocated funds to three Israeli programs aimed at stemming trafficking in humans.
The funding was announced Thursday as part of the annual package targeting international trafficking in workers and prostitutes.
Kav La Oved, an Israeli hotline for abused immigrant workers, will receive $154,000 to cooperate with the Center for Migrant Advocacy in South East Asia in distributing information on Israeli labor laws and rights in Thailand and the Philippines. The Israel branch of Amnesty International will get $105,000 to create an educational program for Israeli schools, the army and police aimed at creating awareness about human trafficking. The group Isha L'Isha -- Woman to Woman -- will receive $100,000 to promote cooperation between authorities and non-governmental groups in Russia, Uzbekistan and Israel aimed at stemming trafficking in women.
Additionally, in Jordan, the International Labor Organization will get $300,000 to create capacity for authorities to stop forced labor in Qualified Industrial Zones -- areas jointly run by Israeli and Jordan businesses that benefit from free trade with the United States.
The State Department this year removed Israel from its Tier Two watchlist in human trafficking but kept it designated as a Tier Two nation -- one with identifiable problems in human trafficking but making strides toward addressing them.
Placement on the Tier Two watchlist is meant to warn nations they are in danger of dropping to "Tier Three," where they could lose non-humanitarian U.S. assistance.
U.S. funds to Israel on human trafficking - rockclimber - 01-02-2008 05:35 AM
continued (older article by Christopher Bollyn)
ISRAELS SLAVE TRADE CONTINUES UNABATED
By Christopher Bollyn
American Free Press
An Israeli parliamentary report found that thousands of non-Jewish women remain enslaved in Israels sex industry and that traffickers go unpunished. However, with billions of dollars in U.S. aid at stake, the State Dept. says Israel is making significant efforts to eliminate human trafficking.
When Israel was black listed by the U.S. State Dept. in 2001 for being among the nations that facilitate the slave trade by failing to take significant efforts to eliminate human trafficking, billions of dollars in U.S. aid were in jeopardy. However, despite a damning Israeli government report criticizing the Jewish state for being lax on traffickers, who go unpunished, the State Dept. has upgraded Israels status, removing the possibility of meaningful sanctions.
Under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (2000), beginning with the 2003 report, countries that fail to make significant efforts to prevent the trading of human beings will be subject to termination of non-humanitarian, non-trade-related assistance.
Although the government of Israel still does not meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking, the State Dept. says it is making significant efforts to do so.
Israel, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell said on June 5, when the 2002 trafficking report favorable to Israel was released, worked with us to significantly strengthen their anti-trafficking efforts.
Israel, Nancy Ely-Raphel from the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons added, had aggressively pursued anti-trafficking initiatives since the first report was issued last year.
Six months later, however, a special Israeli parliamentary committee looking into the slave trade in Israel challenges the claims made by senior State Dept. officials. The special report revealed that "3,000 women are sold each year in Israel's sex industry, in transactions with an annual volume of $1 billion," according to the Israeli daily Ha'aretz.
The report described Israels sex industry as a "modern form of slavery."
Most of the women slaves are sold to the owners of some 250 brothels in the Tel Aviv area, according to The Jerusalem Post. There are an estimated 300 to 400 brothels engaged in Israels slave trade, it said.
Victims trapped in the sex industry suffer physical and emotional abuse, rape, threats against self and family, passport theft, and physical restraint, according to a State Dept. description.
The women, mostly from the republics of the former Soviet Union, are usually smuggled in by traffickers who promise them legitimate jobs. The report said the borders with Egypt should be better controlled, making the dubious claim that it is along this border that women were being smuggled into the country.
Because Israel has some of the tightest border controls in the world it is highly unlikely that thousands of women could be smuggled into the country without the knowledge and acquiescence of the highest authorities.
Once in Israel, the women are sold and forced to work in the sex industry. They receive $25 - $30 per customer, of which the pimp takes between 80 and 90 percent, the report said. The women are forced to work 12 hours a day, six or seven days a week and receive an average of 10 to 15 clients daily, the report said.
Testimony provided by sex workers - and minors - who appeared before the Israeli parliamentary committee detailed the abusive, criminal aspects of trafficking. After the women are purchased, their passports are confiscated and they have to "buy back" their freedom, enduring constant threats, coercion and rape, the report said.
Under current Israeli enforcement procedures, most attempts to prosecute trafficking offenders end in plea bargain agreements and light sentences of public service work, or brief prison terms. The report says that current Israeli law enforcement efforts against pimps and slave traders are inadequate.
Israeli judges do not deliver harsh sentences against convicted slave traders, Haaretz wrote. Although the maximum is 16 years in jail, the courts have made a travesty of the laws, the report said. The lengthiest sentence handed down against a convicted sex slave trader was four years, yet most sentences are no longer than 18 months. Israeli police do not go after the top echelons of the sex trade industry, Haaretz wrote. Most indictments are served against low-level pimps.
The chairwoman of the committee, Zehava Gal-On, said the Israeli legal system does not have the means necessary to deter traffickers, she said. When traffickers get to court they get lenient sentences, she said.
Gal-On said that since Israel had been placed on the State Department blacklist as a place where "white slavery" thrived, some improvement had been made in Israel.
Israels law against trafficking remains fundamentally flawed because, like all Israeli law, there is a different standard for Jews and non-Jews. According to an Israeli expert who exposed this double standard within Israeli law, the late Israel Shahak, under Jewish laws racist definition, all women who happen to have been born non-Jewish are automatically considered to be harlots.
American Free Press asked the State Departments office dealing with human trafficking why Israels status had been upgraded when there is no evidence that any significant effort had been made to halt the trade in human beings.
Israel is one of the leaders in the Middle East, an official who asked to remain anonymous said, they are trying to clean up their act. The official said that nobody would speak on the record on this matter.
Asked about the racial double standard inherent in Israeli law, the official said, The color of law would be something they would be interested in seeing changed.