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Many Yeshiva Bochrim Recently Arrested In Europe For Smuggling “Khat” Substance From Israel

During the past month, 20 Israelis were arrested in Europe after being apprehended smuggling Khat from Israel, which is illegal in Europe. According to the Yediot Achronot report, it is clear that many people have opted to ignore Foreign Ministry warnings, and the Israelis, most being bnei yeshivos and avreichim, were arrested and are expected to be sentenced to prison terms.

According to the report released by Tamar Shabak, the Khat, which is chewed by members of Israel’s Yemenite community, has become a popular drug in Europe. Since there is no prohibition against the khat in Israel, persons seeking to profit have begun enlisting innocent persons including young chareidim to transport the leaves; offering a free airline ticket and a quick profit. However, in many European countries, the khat, which appear innocent, is classified as an illegal drug.

In France alone, ten Israelis were arrested last month smuggling Khat, with most being young chareidim, bochrei yeshivos seeking a quick profit, as well as young non-religious persons in need of the cash, ranging in age from 18 to 27.

Rabbi Shlomo Bistritzky of the Hamburg Chabad House told Yediot that the bochrim who were arrested told him they were told the worst case scenario is that the khat would be confiscated by authorities, and they were unaware they would be placed on trial and face prison terms. They Israelis arrested face between two and seven years imprisonment for their actions. Some, who have small children at home, have already been sentenced to a year in prison and three months’ probation following their release. This is after they have spent three months in a German jail since arrested.

[Chareidi Girls Arrested in England for Smuggling “Khat” Substance From Israel]

The bochrim who were arrested transported about 100kg (220 LBS) of Khat. Police have frozen some of the product to make certain they will have evidence for the trials, Yediot reports. The defendants are being held under harsh conditions; the report adds. Their time out of the cell is limited to a short period in a prison yard, where they encounter dangerous criminals. After two days, they were given tallis and tefilin.

According to Israel Foreign Ministry sources, as per the Yediot report, there are two or three suppliers in Israel, but since dealing in khat in Israel is not illegal, police are not able to become involved. In addition, the suppliers are telling the naïve couriers that if they are arrested, not to involve the Foreign Ministry, because they are bochrim and avreichim. As such, some of those in custody are dealing with matters themselves, and they haven’t any idea what to do, the report concludes.

[AGAIN: Chareidi Girls Arrested in Oslo For Smuggling “Khat”; Scheduled for Deportation ON SHABBOS]

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(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)

20 Responses

  1. After so many stories about yeshiva bochurim being arrested in various countries around the world for attempting to smuggle a variety of drugs, it is no longer credible to believe that “they didn’t know” what they were doing was illegal (putting aside the chilul hashem and feeding already critical anti-Semitic tropes in those countries). This is pure greed and reckless behavior that warrants sever punishment, although don’t be surprised if you soon see advertisements pleading for funds for pidyon shivuim efforts.

  2. I’m pretty sure that khat is legal in Israel. That’s probably why the “smugglers” think that it can’t be that bad – after all it’s not “real” drugs.

  3. Sorry, I have zero sympathy for these drug smugglers – because that’s what they are. If it’s legal, why would these stupid people be needed? They surely realize that being paid a ridiculous amount to bring a few plants to another country is odd. Being jailed is a deterrent… it’s a far cry from the infamous case in Japan where we all rallied round the three bachurim. Today, it’s such a regular occurrence that we don’t ask for names for Tehillim or get involved. When will people learn there’s no such thing as a free (or very well paid!) lunch?

  4. 1) To the Editor – it is worthwhile to proofread the article. There are several mistakes such as:
    1st Pp – “…smuggling Khat from Israel, which is illegal in Israel. ”
    2nd Pp – “…there is no prohibition against the khat in Israel”

    2) The article says, “…enlisting innocent persons including young chareidim” and then says, “…the bochrim who were arrested told him they were told the worst case scenario is that the khat would be confiscated by authorities…”.
    These Bochrim, according to the article, are all over 18 years of age. If you are that old and can’t figure out that something seems suspicious when someone is willing to pay your whole airfare and mentions to you that they may confiscate the merchandise, you are either STUPID or you are NOT that INNOCENT!

    The problem here is that although the punishment does not fit the crime, non-the-less, these bochrim and avreichim are causing a big chilul Hashem and if we keep on bailing them out it is not going to stop.

  5. Once upon a time, earning the title “chareidi avreich/bachur” came together with knowing right from wrong; good from evil.
    Today, it is all too obvious that Torah morality is as hidden in the “oilam haTorah”as it was prior to churban bayis rishon.

  6. This situation is crazy. These fools think they can engage in a get-rich-scheme that will work. I strongly believe that each one arrested has known of others who were arrested for doing the same thing. But the addict mind says, “I’m not worried, nothing will happen to me. I won;t get caught.” Then when they do, they have complaints to all. Sorry, but that is foolish and self-destructive.

    We are guided differently by the Torah. We are never commanded to seek entitlements, and no other human being owes us anything. We are told to benefit from the fruits of our labor – יגיע כפך כי תאכל. The mentality that we are owed support and wealth by the government, parents, or tzedokoh is neither healthy nor Torah based. Greed is a character trait that the Torah shuns, and we should be following that direction. I feel bad for the plight of these bochurim and avreichim, but they have only themselves to blame.

  7. They should horsewhip the people who gave the drugs the bucherim to bring to Europe, I guess people didn’t learn enough from Japan

  8. “but since dealing in khat in Israel is not illegal, police are not able to become involved”

    Why is there no mention of anyone else but “police”? How about a campaign to pressure legislators and travel agents? Anyone leaving the country should be given a notice explaining such things clearly, travel agents should be required to supply such information etc etc etc

  9. This is what happens when young people are taught to ignore “dina d’malchusa dina.” The idea that it’s OK to break the law of a civil government – especially one outside of EY – has gained a strong foothold in our circles, and it leads to tragedies such as these.

    And what about the dealers who are preying on these naive young people? Just because khat is legal in EY doesn’t mean that it’s legal to conspire to break laws in other countries, or to lie to people to get them to serve as couriers.

    Granted, these bochrim and avreichim are not entirely innocent or they wouldn’t have accepted such deals in the first place, but they take their attitudes from the kehillah at large, and that’s us. What are we doing wrong that frum young people are getting into such jams, doing things which should never occur to bnei yeshiva to do?

    It’s almost the end of Elul. Time to take stock of just what we’re doing and saying to influence our youth.

  10. Is this legal or illegal in Israel ?
    First it says “smuggling Khat from Israel, which is illegal in Israel” then it says “since there no prohibition against Khat in Israel “
    I assume first paragraph was an error?

  11. Georgeg. I hope you’ve enjoyed your sleep for the past 10 years.
    Travel agents don’t exist anymore, sorry about that.
    Also you dont have to call the airline to confirm your seat. And stop-overs for refuelling is history. You may also find that you dont get a carbon copy ticket in a plastic wallet with matching luggage id holders these days. You just place your telephone face down on a glass with green lights and your on the flight. Hey, not the one with the large spring dial.

  12. One of the few times I can recall such a consensus here with regard to such behavior and why punishment is warranted. An 18 YO is not a child who “didn’t understand”, “didn’t know” etc. that in most of the world, dealing in any narcotic or drug is illegal and strictly punished. As long as these idiots think there is only a small risk of being caught and if so, the punishment will be a small fine and being placed on an airplane back to EY, there will be more such efforts to make big money in a few days. Media coverage showing a few of them rotting in a European jail cell for a few years will send a strong message. Clearly. prior warnings have not worked.

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