Letter 02   03-Jun-2004   Please address the issue of Jewish men trafficking Ukrainian women
Irwin Cotler
"Earlier this year Amnesty International reported that 10,000 women from the former Soviet Union had been virtually enslaved in Israel in the past 10 years." Suzanne Goldenberg

  03 June 2004

The Honourable Irwin Cotler
Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
284 Wellington Street
Ottawa, Ontario    K1A 0H8

Irwin Cotler:

Your speech of 30-Mar-2004 before the Forum on Human Trafficking was distinguished by your making mention neither of (1) Ukraine nor of (2) Israel nor of (3) the Jewish Mafiya.

1.  You Made No Mention Of Ukraine

First, you made no reference to Ukraine, and yet the victims of Sex Slavery are most often Ukrainian, as is evidenced by the following snippets from Michael Specter's 11-Jan-1998 New York Times article, one of whose internal headings is "Russia and Ukraine Supply the Flesh":

Pimps, law-enforcement officials and relief groups all agree that Ukrainian and Russian women are now the most valuable in the trade.  [...]

In Ukraine alone, the number of women who leave is staggering.  As many as 400,000 women under 30 have gone in the past decade, according to their country's interior ministry.  [...]

That is because Ukraine and to a lesser degree its Slavic neighbors Russia and Belarus has replaced Thailand and the Philippines as the epicenter of the global business in trafficking women.  The Ukrainian problem has been worsened by a ravaged economy, an atrophied system of law enforcement, and criminal gangs that grow more brazen each year.  Young European women are in demand, and Ukraine, a country of 51 million people, has a seemingly endless supply.  It is not that hard to see why.  [...]

"It's no secret that the highest prices now go for the white women," said Marco Buffo, executive director of On the Road, an antitrafficking organization in northern Italy.  "They are the novelty item now.  It used to be Nigerians and Asians at the top of the market.  Now it's the Ukrainians."  [...]

Many go to Turkey and Germany, where Russian crime groups are particularly powerful.  Israeli leaders say that Russian women they tend to refer to all women from the former Soviet Union as Russian disappear off tour boats every day.  Officials in Italy estimate that at least 30,000 Ukrainian women are employed illegally there now.
Michael Specter, Traffickers' New Cargo: Naive Slavic women, New York Times, 11-Jan-1998  www.ukar.org/specter01.html

2.  You Made No Mention Of Israel

And neither did you make any reference to Israel, when in fact Israel is among the most common destinations of Ukrainian sex slaves:

Israel is a fairly typical destination.  Prostitution is not illegal here, although brothels are, and with 250,000 foreign male workers most of whom are single or here without their wives the demand is great.  Police officials estimate that there are 25,000 paid sexual transactions every day.  Brothels are ubiquitous.
Michael Specter, Traffickers' New Cargo: Naive Slavic women, New York Times, 11-Jan-1998  www.ukar.org/specter01.html

Report slams Israel on sex slavery

Associated Press

Jerusalem About 3,000 women, mainly from the former Soviet Union, are sold each year into Israel's sex industry, which takes in about $1-billion (U.S.) annually, a parliamentary report said Sunday, slamming the country's justice system for being lax on punishments.

The women, seeking to escape poverty at home, are usually smuggled in by traffickers who promise them legitimate jobs.  Once in Israel, they are sold to pimps for between $3,000 and $6,000 each, the preliminary report said.

The women receive between $25-$30 per customer, of which the pimp takes between 80 and 90 per cent, the report said.  The women work about 12 hours a day, six or seven days a week and receive an average of 10 to 15 clients daily, it added.  Often, the women live in dismal conditions and sometimes they are physically abused or live in fear of their pimps.

Israeli courts generally reach a plea bargain with the pimps and sentence them to either a few months of community service or up to an average of two years in prison, punishments which the committee said are too weak to serve as deterrents.

It suggested that these crimes should have minimum prison sentences to deter the sex traders, who often jail, blackmail and enslave the women.

In July of 2001, a U.S. State Department report placed Israel on a black list of countries whose laws don't meet U.S. criteria for dealing with this crime and threatened economic sanctions.

Israel has reformed the law somewhat since then, but the committee said it is not enough to confront the problem effectively.  In addition to changes in the law, the committee suggested an authority be formed to fight the "war against trafficking in people."
Globe and Mail, 08-Dec-2002.

Four die in Tel Aviv brothel attack

Special report: Israel and the Middle East

Suzanne Goldenberg in Jerusalem

Wednesday August 16, 2000

Police in Tel Aviv are hunting a serial arsonist attacking the city's sex industry after the horrific death of four women, locked inside a brothel which was set on fire overnight.

The attack, said by social workers to be the sixth of its kind in a week, added to the debate on the increasing traffic in women for prostitution by Russian and Israeli gangs, and the appalling treatment they suffer.

Social workers believe the dead women came from Ukraine, where most of those brought from the former soviet Union for prostitution are from.

The police said they were investigating the possibility that the fire might have been started by ultra-Orthodox Jews opposed to the sex industry.

"We are pursuing a number of courses of inquiry, both the possibility of a dispute between operators of these businesses and ... that extremist ultra-Orthodox Jews are responsible," the chief of police, Shlomo Aharonishky, said.

Earlier this year Amnesty International reported that 10,000 women from the former Soviet Union had been virtually enslaved in Israel in the past 10 years.  Many have forged documents identifying them as Jewish immigrants.

Suzanne Goldenberg, The dead women came from Ukraine, The Guardian, 16-Aug-2000  www.ukar.org/golden01.html

3.  You Made No Mention Of the Jewish Mafiya

The Jewish Mafiya, variously referred to by such alternative names as the Red Mafia or the Russian Mafiya, involves Slavic women in prostitution under circumstances so brutal as to be indistinguishable from those described above as involving trafficking or enslavement:

In two posh villas outside the small town of Ricany, near Prague, one of the most dreaded mob families in the world savagely murders its terrified victims.  The mob's young enforcers, trained by veterans of the Afghanistan war, are infamous for their extreme brutality.  Their quarry, usually businessmen who have balked at extortion demands, are repeatedly stabbed and tortured, then mutilated before they are butchered.  The carnage is so hideous that it has scared the daylights out of competing crime groups in the area.

The torture chambers are run by what international police officials call the Red Mafia, a notorious Russian mob family that in only six years has become a nefarious global crime cartel.  Based in Budapest, it has key centers in New York, Pennsylvania, Southern California, and as far away as New Zealand.

The enigmatic leader of the Red Mafia is a 52-year-old Ukrainian-born Jew named Semion Mogilevich.  He is a shadowy figure known as the "Brainy Don" he holds an economics degree from the University of Lvov and until now, he has never been exposed by the media.  [...]

Allegations of Mogilevich's devilish array of criminal activities are extensively detailed in the reports: The FBI and Israeli intelligence assert that he traffics in nuclear materials, drugs, prostitutes, precious gems, and stolen art. His contract hit squads operate in the U.S. and Europe. He controls everything that goes in and out of Moscow's Sheremetyevo International Airport, a "smugglers' paradise, " says Elson. Mogilevich bought a bankrupt airline in a former Central Asian Soviet republic for millions of dollars in cash so he could haul heroin out of the Golden Triangle. Most worrisome to U.S. authorities is Mogilevich's apparently legal purchase of virtually the entire Hungarian armaments industry, jeopardizing regional security, NATO, and the war against terrorism.  [...]

Mogilevich is married to a Hungarian national, Katalin Papp. That marriage allowed him to legally emigrate to Budapest, Hungary, in 1991, where he began to build the foundations of his global criminal empire. He bought a string of nightclubs in Prague, Riga, and Kiev called the "Black and White Clubs" that has become one of the world's foremost centers of prostitution.
Robert I. Friedman, The Most Dangerous Mobster in the World, The Village Voice, 22-May-1998  www.ukar.org/friedm01.html.  Bold emphasis added.

Fainberg was born in 1958 in Odessa, a Black Sea port that was once the Marseilles of the Soviet Union.  His parents soon divorced, and when he was three he moved with his mother, who had remarried, and his stepfather to Czernowitz, a small city in Ukraine.  [...]

One day in 1972, when Fainberg was fourteen, his mother and stepfather announced that they were moving the family to Israel, where they hoped to increase their already considerable wealth.  [...]

Since the collapse of Communism, the Mafiya, as it is known to outsiders (Russian gangsters affect disdain for the term), has become bigger, more brutal, and better armed; it is widely believed to be richer than any other criminal cartel richer, even, than its counterpart in Colombia.  The Russian mob buys and swaps drugs, money, handguns, assault carbines, submachine guns, anti-aircraft missiles, helicopters, plutonium, enriched uranium, and submarines.  In 1996, James Moody, who was then the F.B.I.'s deputy assistant director in charge of organized crime, warned Congress that the Russian mob, which has thirty crime syndicates operating in more than seventeen North American cities, has "a very real chance" of becoming "the No. 1 crime group in the United States."  And, until recently, the No. 1 Russian crime figure in Miami was Ludwig Fainberg.  [...]

He certainly had the qualities of a mobster: he was greedy (he allegedly stole tip money from the strippers at his club); he was ruthless (he once forced a woman to eat gravel); and he was ambitious (he brokered a complicated negotiation involving the transfer of a Russian military submarine to Columbian narcotraffickers).  [...]

In addition to extortion, Fainberg had a habit of degrading women.  "This is cultural," he explained to me, in an effort to defend himself."  In Russia, it was normal for men to beat women.  In the stories Dostoyevsky, Chekhov, and Gorky wrote, to slap a woman is normal, it's part of life.  And to do something like that in America, something that you grew up with you're arrested, for domestic violence!"  In an incident observed by the F.B.I. and the D.E.A. from surveillance cars across the street from Porky's, Fainberg chased a girlfriend out of the club and decked her.  On another occasion, he allegedly beat a girlfriend's head against the door of his Mercedes until the car was covered with blood; and he regularly abused his common-law wife, a frail young woman named Faina Tannenbaum, whom he had brought with him from New York.  When the police arrived at their home in response to 911 calls, she would quiver in fear, and was sometimes found huddled inside a locked car with her daughter.  [...]

Meanwhile in the United States, the activities of the Russian mob were alarming a great many law-enforcement agencies.  In 1994, Louis J. Freeh, the director of the F.B.I., said that the Russian Mafiya posed "a significant direct threat to the United States."  In a few years, the Russians had supplanted the Cubans as one of the top crime groups in South Florida.  [...]

Then, in October, after living in America for fifteen years, Fainberg was deported to Israel, with fifteen hundred dollars in his pocket.  He had served a mere thirty-three months.  [...]  Even as he awaited deportation, Fainberg told me that, given what he knows about the sex industry, he'll soon be rich again.  [...]  But his enthusiasm for the land he was leaving was undimmed.  "I love this country!" Tarzan said.  "It's so easy to steal here!"
Robert I. Friedman, Land of the stupid: When you need a used Russian submarine, call Tarzan, The New Yorker, 10-Apr-2000  www.ukar.org/friedm01.html.  Bold emphasis added.

In other words, given the opportunity to speak on the subject of human trafficking, you overlooked the highly pertinent observation that among its chief manifestations is the trafficking by Jewish men of Ukrainian women.  However, what your position as Canada's Justice Minister and Attorney General demands is that you dedicate the same energy to opposing thousands of Ukrainian women being held as sex slaves in Israel (which happens to be the case) as you would dedicate to opposing thousands of Jewish women being held as sex slaves in Ukraine (which happens not to be the case).

And my complaint is not merely that you yourself refused to address the core of the problem of human trafficking, but it is rather that by your lengthy digression to your favorite topics of "anti-Semitism" and "hate crimes," you signalled to your audience the threat of the Justice Minister and Attorney General of Canada that he would consider anyone addressing the core of the problem of human trafficking as a prosecutable purveyor of anti-Semitism and of hate.

Lubomyr Prytulak


Irving ABELLA, National Honourary President, CJC, Department of History, York University, 4700 Keele Street, Toronto, ON  M3J 1P3
Suzanne BEST, Manager Intake Services, CHRC, 344 Slater Street, Ottawa, ON  K1A 1E1
Bernie FARBER, Executive Director, CJC, 4600 Bathurst Street, Toronto, ON  M2R 3V2
Mary M GUSELLA, Chief Commissioner, CHRC, 344 Slater Street, Ottawa, ON  K1A 1E1
Sherri HELGASON, Director Investigations Branch, CHRC, 344 Slater Street, Ottawa, ON  K1A 1E1
Rt. Hon. Paul MARTIN, Prime Minister, Office of the Prime Minister, 80 Wellington Street, Ottawa, ON  K1A 0A2
Ed MORGAN, Chair, CJC (Ont), Faculty of Law, University of Toronto, 84 Queen's Park, Toronto, ON  M5S 2C5
Moshe RONEN, Chair Board of Governors, CJC, 4600 Bathurst Street, Toronto, ON  M2R 3V2
Len RUDNER, Director of Community Relations, CJC, 4600 Bathurst Street, Toronto, ON  M2R 3V2