As a Jewish woman, mother and grandmother, I have been disgusted and disappointed by the behavior and verbal abuse of women by Yair Netanyahu. Sadly, he has succeeded in shaming all Israelis, men and women, adults and children.
Though he is a private citizen, the fact that he is the son of our prime minister enables him to enjoy special publicly funded benefits as well as public exposure. Publication of tapes as well as testimony that Yair has been a regular client of strip clubs portrays a pattern of behavior which is most problematic, if not criminal.
At this time a committee established by the justice minister is completing its deliberations on the proposal to criminalize the behavior of men who use the services of prostitutes. Such legislation already exists in a several Scandinavian countries. Furthermore, there are experts who claim that lap dancing is a form of prostitution.
In my over 50-year career as a women’s rights lawyer, I’ve had many clients who worked as “sex workers,” commonly known as prostitutes. None of these women chose this line of work because they wanted it, they were forced into their “career” by a number of factors, including childhood sexual abuse, homelessness, trafficking and drug addiction.
Numerous studies worldwide, as well as in Israel, have shown that these women wish to leave their “profession” and find a different way to support themselves and their families. Unfortunately, there has been limited public funding to enable these women to change their workplace. And private funding tends to be given to more “acceptable” projects.
Therefore, I have a proposal to make to Yair that would show that he is no longer a sexual predator and is truly sorry for his past behavior. Moreover, he could set an example for rehabilitation for other Israeli men who are regular clients of lap dancers and prostitutes.
Yair and his wealthy friends should set up a nonprofit rehabilitation center for lap dancers and prostitutes. This center would provide financial assistance, counseling, job training and drug rehabilitation.
Since Yair and his family seem to have a large cadre of wealthy friends, they should be able to raise substantial funds for this important project. The prime minister and his wife have publicly declared that the publicized tape did not portray the values with which they raised their sons. Furthermore, the PM declared that he is committed to improving the status of women in Israel.
Establishment of the rehabilitation center for lap dancers and prostitutes would show all Israelis as well as our many friends abroad that Yair, his family and friends are serious about their statements of regret. Putting money where their mouths are would rehabilitate them as well as women who have suffered from sexual abuse for so long. They would also show the world that the Jewish state is truly trying to be a light unto the nations.
I am certain that my women’s rights colleagues in Israel and abroad would be willing to act as an advisory committee to this new project. I hereby volunteer to recruit well-known Jewish women’s rights activists worldwide to assist Yair and his friends in establishing the rehabilitation center for prostitutes.
The writer is a former legal adviser to Na’amat and director of the International Jewish Women Rights Project of the International Council of Jewish Women. She is currently director of a new project, the International Jewish Women Lawyers Corps.