Ma’ariv believes that, "The catastrophic situation in Syria attests – more than ever – to the fateful mistake of those senior defense establishment officials who called for a quick agreement with Assad." The author says that Israel is very fortunate that the deal that Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan sought to broker in 2008, in which the Golan Heights would have been returned to Damascus, fell through.
Summary of Editorials from the Hebrew Press – February 13th, 2012
Three papers discuss the proposed legislation that would make the purchase of sexual services a criminal offense, the punishment for which could include imprisonment for up to six months:
Yediot Aharonot avers that "Whoever thinks that punishing clients will do something for the most exploited population group in the country, which works in the oldest profession on earth, is either naïve or has no real understanding of human nature." The author contends that "The punishments to be imposed on clients of prostitution services will have no effect on either supply or demand," and says that men will be compelled "to make a greater effort to avoid being caught. The women will be compelled to seek the assistance of questionable pimps who will put a roof over them in exchange for a greater cut of the profits they reap in blood, sweat and tears as they work longer hours to earn a sum that will enable them to live." The paper advocates legalization as a better solution for prostitutes, "so that they might earn their living under better and safer conditions, without risking their health," and calls for "investment in escape routes and education in order to allow them to rebuild their lives."
The Jerusalem Post writes: "Prostitution is violence against women. Everything should be done to diminish, if not completely eradicate, this horrible phenomenon. The Ministerial Committee on Legislation took an important step toward achieving this goal Sunday when it unanimously passed a bill by MK Orit Zuaretz (Kadima), who chairs the Knesset Subcommittee on Trafficking in Women. Legalizing prostitution and regulating the industry to protect women from exploitation is not an option. Experiments in Holland and Germany have proven a failure. Besides, such legislation would never have a chance of passing in a government dominated by conservative-minded lawmakers from Shas, United Torah Judaism, Habayit Hayehudi and Likud. While critics of Zuaretz’s legislation might be right that in the short-term the situation for some prostitutes might get worse, in the long-term the inevitable decrease in demand – assuming the law is enforced by police – will gradually force many women out of prostitution."
Yisrael Hayom hopes the proposed legislation will be quickly passed into law. The author notes that, "Prostitution is currently legal in Israel and it is possible to purchase and consume sexual services freely," but adds, "This freedom has a price and the price is paid by the women engaged in prostitution. The price is severe damage, the existence of which is attested to in empirical studies, the testimony of women engaged in prostitution and medical and legal data." The paper asserts that, "Respecting the choice of those women who, maybe, freely choose prostitution and are interested in working as it is not enough to allow a phenomenon that causes so much damage to so many other women."
[Note: While brothels and pimping are illegal in Israel, as is trafficking in women, prostitution itself is not.]
Haaretz comments that "Israel must cancel biased law allowing community acceptance panels": "What is intended to keep out one group, will be used to keep out others. In fact, it will serve to sift out anyone who deviates from some vague norm that every conservative and detached community will formulate for itself over and over again. The law permitting acceptance committees is offensive and should be annuled. It is inconceivable for communities to take advantage of lands with which the government has entrusted them in a manner that is infuriatingly contrary to human and civil rights."
[Smadar Shir, Prof. Shulamit Almog and Amos Gilboa wrote today’s articles in Yediot Aharonot, Yisrael Hayom and Ma’ariv, respectively.]