Sex 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.