[Originally published in Hebrew for Ma’ariv Internet.]
“Until the “Internet age”, paedophiles had no public refuge. They were hidden in dark allies, preying for the innocent and lurking on their victims. until the Internet Age, pornographic material that didn’t physically harm minors was not considered as an offence and its possession was not a felon.” (Jonathan Klinger, 26.02.2006)
During the last weeks Israel was swept away by a wave of criminal charges and arrests against people who are accused in possession of child pornography. No more single cases like Vladimir Mill or Yaron Pollak who were found guilty for possession of child pornography obtained “via the internet” in a discrete manner; The Israeli media, headed by Channel 10 news, gently explain to these paedophiles that they should refrain from their actions if they don’t want to face criminal charges . (and see also Gal Mor’s criticism)
In parallel, the Israeli police continues to hunt child pornography downloaders with the assistance of international organisations, when it isn’t clear as to what is the rationale for severe punishment against those downloaders in a democratic state. As the suspects who were arrested under Channel 10’s “To Catch a Predator” like initiative, actually attempted to seduce alleged children and reached their doorstep, the passive paedophiles, those who were only interested in watching the content made by others and do not approve anything but possession of obscene materials, were punished in a severer manner than those who actually practised child molestation.
While ‘passive paedophiles’ such as Vladimir Mill were sentenced to five and a half months imprisonment, Aharon Ofir was sentenced to sentenced to ten months and Sergey Levenpos was sentenced to a year and a half in prison, a ‘standard’ molestation case is usually less sever in punishment. For example, a father who raped his twelve year old daughter was sentenced to a year and three months of imprisonment , less than Levenpos; A father who fondled his seven year old daughter in her intimate areas was sentenced to probational imprisonment only and another father was sentenced to only four years after raping his step-daughter.
The Israeli law enforcement system signals the severity of acts by punishment. The state of Israel, using massive enforcement against the possession of child pornography signals that actual possession is almost as sever as child molestation. The signalling would have been great if it were to equal looking crimes. While rape and child molestation under sever circumstances is a crime punishable by up to twenty years in prison, possession or publication of obscenity is punishable only up to five years. The small difference? While four years imprisonment for possession of obscenity is 80% of the maximum punishment, it is only 20% of the punishment in child molestation. Meaning that the law enforcement authorities in Israel signal that the rapist is less of a criminal than the obscenity publisher.
The state of Israel is a state governed by the rule of law. Establishing the state was meant to keep the security of its citizens, therefore it is best that they keep the law; however, The law enforcement authorities have an easier way in trapping ‘passive paedophiles’ on the internet using technological means than to go out and find those parents who molest their children and make their life a living hell every day.