So once upon a time, when we lived in the Big Bad City where police helicopters were more plentiful than stars in the smoggy LA night sky, my ex told me about this magical place where children roam free and everyone knows everyone and it’s like Mayberry only in Hebrew and with shmarim pastries instead of apple pie, and blah blah blah.
It’s called a kibbutz. And apparently it’s paradise for children. And dogs. (Because both like to run around and pee on lawns, etcetera.)
And after learning that the dude who lived across the street and two doors down was arrested for downloading child porn, I wanted out of LA. So, I bought the dream, lox stock and bagels. I wanted to move to a place where children play all day and come home only when the stars come out. A place where the grocery store, the clinic, the park, and the pool are all a stone’s throw away from each other. A place where the green lawns are unblemished by picket fences that separate neighbors, where everyone weighs in on the goings-on of everyone else. because that’s how you roll in a community, A place where everyone feels that they have a personal stake in the successes and failures of each child, let alone every freaking avocado tree.
And the fact that my kids are thriving here makes me love this place.
But it turns out I was sold bucolic little bumblefuck under false pretenses: This place isn’t safe.
And our little fairytale bubble just burst and now there’s unicorn shit everywhere.
Let me tell it to you.
So, you know how Herzl’s “normalized” Jewish state was supposed to have Jewish garbage men, Jewish athletes, Jewish policemen and Jewish gangsters? Well, Israel has all that. And more. Israel has Jewish pedophiles.
And guess what? Turns out there’s a convicted rapist strolling around here from lawn to lawn – remember, we ain’t got no fences. And, oh, wait, here’s the kicker – he isn’t “just” a rapist: He’s a rapist who brutalized the body of a girl my daughter’s age.
And he’s here.
He isn’t a member of the kibbutz. Instead, he’s here under the care of a kibbutz member who works with him as part of a program to rehabilitate former criminals and bring them back into society. Wow, doesn’t that sound really nice? Fine. You know what? Yeah, there are some criminals who can be rehabilitated. Gangbangers? Drug addicts? Telemarketers? After a loooooooooot of therapy and under a looooooooot of supervision — maybe. I’m down with that. Even in my own backyard. But people (and I use that term loosely) who not only force themselves on someone sexually, but do it to a freaking child? No. Not in a million years.
And statistics back me up. Men and women who get off on children are broken beyond repair. Save me the speeches about forgiveness and redemption. These folks almost always go on to do it again. And again. And again. And I don’t care why they became the way they are. Whether they were beaten or molested or they’re just missing a chunk of basic humanity – I really don’t give a shit. There are some things that I can never understand. Or forgive. Or want near my children.
And evidently, the kibbutz feels the same way. Because after a meeting they decided that this guy is not allowed on the premises. Ever. Which is awesome.
But before we all join hands and dance the hora, we must realize that this is a wakeup call. Evil does exist in this world – even in the Jewish state. And just because this piece of scum is gone doesn’t mean that there aren’t people living near my kids who would seek to do them harm.
And statistically speaking, there probably are.
So now what do I do? Do I tell my kids that they can’t run outside and around the corner to their friend’s house? Do I tell my daughter that she can’t hug the male family friend she’s known almost her entire life because what if – Hashem forbid – he’s waaaaaaay too into that kind of thing? Should I follow my kids around like a shadow because I’m afraid that something might happen to them?
Hell, might as well move back to LA where every second is scheduled, where kids are never left alone, and where child psychologists are a dime a dozen.
So, while I tried to find a balance between keeping my kids physically safe and emotionally secure, I figured I’d better know exactly what I’m dealing with. And with leaden trepidation in my heart, I opened the laptop, clicked over to Google and typed “Registered Sex offenders in Israel.”
And guess what? Zip. Zero. Zilch. Nada.
And, it isn’t because there aren’t any sex offenders in Israel. It’s just that for a country that’s so ahead of its time in so many ways, Israel can be so ass-backward it’s scary.
It’s hard to believe, but while we have intel on every leader in every country all over the world, and while our people can stop some serious shit from going down, there is no centralized database of registered sex offenders in Israel.
In other words, the guy living a few doors down from you could be getting off on kiddie porn right now.
(Cue horror music)
Ok, so many of you may think I’m being an alarmist. And I’ll admit, it’s true: yeah, I grew up in the generation of Adam Walsh where Very Scary things can happen. And while I am doing my damndest to make sure that my kids don’t grow up with that same pall of fear smothering their sense of security, I still think that people need to know what’s up. And, dammit, Israel needs to break down this information in a way that is easily accessible to communities all over the country. I’m not saying that we need to add people who date 17½-year-olds. But rapists? Child molesters? Hell, yeah. Get their names down, and tell people.
Sing it loud and proud. Right away. Right now.
And spare me the line about human rights and how everyone is entitled to privacy. Sorry, that shit don’t fly. As far as I’m concerned, you violate the “privacy” of a child, you forfeit your rights forever.
Oh, and while you’re at it, spare me the argument that you don’t need to be on some list to be a sex offender. I get that. But if there’s a guy living down the road from you and your four-year-old daughter who raped a little girl and left her body broken and bleeding, wouldn’t you want to know?
I would. The database in the US works. And no, people with pitchforks and lanterns aren’t showing up at other peoples’ doors. But kids are told to keep away. And in a country like Israel, where the lines between families and neighbors are blurry, having this kind of information is really important.
Just like Israel has a kickass military arsenal just in case Ahmadinejad has a mood swing or Morsi and Hamas decide to get married and have lots of terrorist babies — we need to arm ourselves with knowledge to protect our families from the inside as well.
Parts of this post originally appeared on Kveller.com.