Dr. Suzan Jacobs, a visiting lecturer from the University of Nebraska, Omaha, raised a question of ethics with 180 students gathered at a conference. Should a battered woman should be allowed to fight back against her oppressor and kill him while his defenses are low, such as when he is asleep?
"Is her act a justifiable homicide, an act of self-defense?" asked Jacobs, a trained lawyer, who has been working in the field of criminal justice since 1990. "If we tell a woman she is not allowed to defend herself then it is possible that when the man wakes up he will eventually kill her."
Jacobs posed the question at a one-day symposium on "Immigration and Women Trafficking" held Sunday at Western Galilee College.
She argued that a woman defending herself against an abusive spouse, even if she kills him while he sleeps, should not be prosecuted.
"American law does not agree with this. I fear that Israeli law says the same things," said Jacobs, who plans to research the topic in Israel further.
While she focused primarily on wives who are abused at the hands of their husbands, Jacobs said "women in trafficking really fall into the same category as battered women who kill."
"Those two groups have one thing in common, each of those women are victimized and cannot escape easily from the men imprisoning them," she said.
Professor Peter Silfran, head of the college's criminology department said following the conference that it was designed to broaden the students horizons.
"The topic is both important and relevant in Israel today," he said. "The media always talks about trafficking and prostitution but what no one realizes is that we are talking about an ancient practice. It is one of the Judaism's oldest professions."
Another of the day's speakers was Dr. Haim Sperber, who addressed the topic of "Women trafficking during the great Jewish migration (1880-1914)."