There Are No Warnings when Sex Offenders Move From Israel but We Can Fix That

scales of justice and childSex offenders, like smugglers, take advantage of borders to avoid paying for their crimes. Sometimes they hop borders one step ahead of the cops. Israel, unfortunately is a popular destination for our miscreants.

But there is also a reverse flow where Israel’s flotsam washes up on America’s shores. Local communities are often clueless. This is true, even if there was a conviction in Israel because Israel does not have a public sex offender registry.

Let’s say Shlomo Shimon Ben-David gets convicted for molesting a neighbor’s child in Israel. He serves his time and then heads off to the United States. For good measure he starts using his middle name, Shimon, or perhaps, Simon, and becomes an accepted member of his new community and volunteers with a youth group. No one is the wiser about his past history.

Don’t start saying there ought to be a law to deal with the problem. There is a law: the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA). If offenders move, start work, or start school in a new state they have to register within three days or can be sentenced to a year. SORNA’s regulations also apply to foreign convictions (IV-B).

Mr. Ben-David should register himself within 3 days of arriving in the the US. But he probably won’t register, even if he knows the law. He has nothing to fear. After all, how will the local jurisdiction even know he has an Israeli conviction. As far as I can tell, local registry enforcers don’t even try to deal with this problem.

Six months ago, on Feb. 8, 2016, President Obama signed a law designed to deal with some of those problems. The bill requires child sex offenders to notify their registry office of their plans to travel abroad. The US government is supposed to transmit  this information to foreign countries and where appropriate, to  INTERPOL. The law also requires the US State Department to mark offender’s passports with indications of their child sex offender status.

Under the International Megan’s Law (HR 4573; 113th Congress, 2nd session) the US government should

Negotiate … bilateral agreements with foreign governments … establishing systems to receive and transmit notices … [and] the President should formally request foreign governments to notify the United States when a United States citizen has been arrested, convicted, sentenced, or completed a prison sentence for a child-sex offense in the foreign country.

Israel might have denied entry to Yona Weinberg had the law been effected with a US-Israel agreement when he left NY in 2014 a day after a warrant was issued for his arrest. Weinberg was already on the registry as a child sex offender because of an earlier conviction.

If Israel does negotiate an agreement with the US it will improve protection in the US from Israelis, whether or not they also hold US citizenship. Shlomo Shimon Ben-David, if an American citizen, would either register or be arrested for not registering. If he is not a citizen, he would be denied entry. But all of this depends on the US and Israel negotiating a mutual exchange of information.

It takes a village to raise a child. It takes a global village to protect children. If Hillary Clinton is elected I hope she will assign priority to ensuring the negotiation of a memorandum of understanding covering mutual notification of sex offender histories. I would hope that Jewish organizations will lobby for such action. Bibi Netanyahu, the self proclaimed protector of all the world’s Jews, ought to back such an agreement. I doubt the agreement will happen without active lobbying.

Readers, please share your thoughts on how to make this happen, and please share this article with those in a position to influence decision makers.

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9 thoughts on “There Are No Warnings when Sex Offenders Move From Israel but We Can Fix That

  1. Do you know how much, if any, checking the U.S. embassies (say Tel Aviv) into the backgrounds of people coming to get tourist and work visas? Would they know of a conviction when Shlomo/Simon shows up to get an H-1B?

    • I don’t know. The exact criteria they use are not revealed. They do not want applicants to be able to game the system. I do know that applicants must answer quetions about previous crimes. Lies on those questions can lead to cancellation of visas or Green cards or citizenship. But first you have to be caught. The question is how well the consular offices examine local crime records and whether the Israeli government cooperates in sharing records of cases that are sealed.

  2. The only idea I have is to write letters to the Israeli consulate addressed to important people who will relay to Netanyahu and others in the Israeli government that as American Jews we are disgusted with Israel’s way of handling these cases of abuse of children and how there is no concern or effort to prevent the free flow of criminals who prey on children between the USA and Israel. If Israel knows that American Jews are extremely upset that Israel is acting like a Third World Country in this way and has not evolved to join the civilized world in their protection of children both in Israel and the USA, perhaps it will make an impact. It involves writing letters and mailing them to important leaders. Israeli lawmakers, politicians and PR representatives should know that if it hasn’t already, it will soon start to affect the support American Jews give to Israel on all fronts. Those in power in Israel need to know that it’s way past time for Israel to join first world countries in how they deal with criminals who prey on children.

    • To be fair to Israel, the US is fairly unique is having a public sex offender registry. Nor is there yet any evidence that having one has reduced child abuse rates. It is definitely true that some individuals should not be on the registry like an eighteen-year-old man who had sex with a 15 yr old girl and is now some ten years later married to her and by all accounts, never otherwise committed sexual crimes. or even more absurd, people arrested for public lewdness for urinating in public where there are no indications of any motive to self-display.

      However, I do agree that Israel ought to cooperate with the US and other countries in sharing information to protect children in both countries. This applies to all countries in the world but for orthodox Jews, this is most important for the Israel-US relationship because of the regular flow of people between the countries. The law of return and dual citizenships increase the possibilities. Additionally, many Israeli citizens stay on illegally in the US.

      • so more thought and care should be devoted to decisions regarding those who truly need to be on the list,
        Difficult decisions, some are immediately clear, that even they don’t often make it,

  3. Wow I am shocked Israel would support such a law that BRANDS a person’s passport as the IML does (International Megan’s Law). You are aware that the only two other regimes to put a unique identifier on a passport is the USSR and Nazi Germany. Do you know that people who have been convicted here 20, 30 or even 40 years ago who have not had a single conviction since their original one can no longer travel with their families, can no longer do business in other countries, can no longer travel freely to vacation. This new IML is supposed to stop child trafficking. Organized crime and pimps are who they should be targeting. It will not stop anything. 95% of new sex crimes are committed by people NOT ON ANY CURRENT REGISTRY…fact. So basically the USA is punishing people well after they’ve paid their debt to society. There is already a federal lawsuit attempting to stop this highly unconstitutional law. But if it’s for the children…hmm didn’t Adolf Hitler use that line also?

    • 1.Existing laws in many countries bar entry on the basis of convictions.

      2.the question of who belongs on the registry is separate from the legitimacy of notifying other states about the risk posed by offenders.

      3.The rhetoric about Hitler and Stalin is absurd. Many countries have ethnic classifications or national subgroup as part of national status. I don’t like it but not every nation is free of ethnic/national/relgious classifications. Israel is a prime example, whether or not they mark it on passports. What is important is that this proposal is not beased on ethnicity or race or religion. it is about behavior reflected in the conviction.

  4. The problem with your information about Yona Weinberg is that there never was a warrant for his arrest in the first place. This was confirmed by the NYPD many times over and there is still no warrant for his arrest. The second issue is that the Police were already informed of Mr. Weinberg’s travel plans 21 days in advance. This was as per the prior interpretation of the law before the Supreme Court’s decision in People v Nichols this past April. If there really was a complaint or even a warrant, the Police would have been allowed to take Weinberg off the plane. If Weinberg had not notified the Police before traveling, he would have been extradited from Israel by US Marshals just as Mr. Nichols was from the Philippines. Unfortunately, we are all being fed false information.

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