More rape, less deception

Several weeks ago, there was a flurry of stories about someone in Israel convicted of “rape by deception.” Here is a typical lede for the story, this one from the BBC:

An Arab man convicted in Israel of rape because he pretended he was a Jew when he had consensual sex with a Jewish woman has called the verdict racist.

CNN reported on the story from the perspective of the Palestinian man in question. Here’s the New York Times. ABC News laid it all out there:

It is a case that has raised some very difficult questions about discrimination and the legal system in Israel.

Two years ago Kashur met a Jewish woman on the street in Jerusalem. He worked as a messenger for an Israeli law firm and like some other Palestinians looking to integrate more effectively into Israeli society had assumed the identity of a Jew. He called himself Dudu, a common Israeli name.

On the same day the two had a consensual sexual encounter in a nearby office building. The woman, whose identity is still protected by law, did not know Kashur was an Arab. When she found out she filed a complaint with police.

The conviction enraged many people. The Atlantic‘s Andrew Sullivan offered a typically understated view:

But it’s the visceral emotional core of this that is so offensive. It’s about racism, religion and the risk of miscegenation. It’s about the deep disgust of some Israeli Jews toward Arabs, upheld by the courts. It’s a variant of the racial sexual panics of the Jim Crow South.

Writing about sexual assault is difficult. Witnesses are unreliable, some identities are protected while others are not, and the details are difficult to write up. But blogger Victor Shikhman says the media got this story horribly wrong.

Indeed, a new story out from Haaretz apparently reveals that the widespread understanding of this story was incorrect. Unfortunately that story is only in Hebrew, but you can read a translation here from Elizabeth Tsurkov. Shikhman summarizes here:

The gist of it is as follows. A woman was raped. She was no angel — sexually abused by her father, a history of working as a prostitute. The victim’s prior history of abuse and prostitution left her with a fragile mental state that came out under the duress of cross-examination. Concerned about her credibility, despite the physical evidence which confirmed the rape, the Prosecution chose to accept a plea bargain with the Defense, on condition that the defendant serve jail time.

The defendant was temporarily freed while the case was under appeal, and began to give media interviews, where he outlined his version of the story — that “she wanted it”, etc. The media pounced on the sensational, and utterly unfounded, element of racism, based on the information that was released to them — which was that a rape-by-deception case between an Arab man and a Jewish woman “who wanted it” resulted in jail time. Meanwhile, the Prosecution was caught in a double bind — it had signed off on reducing the charges to rape-by-deception, and was bound by secrecy to not reveal that the original charge of rape had the weight of evidence.

I’d only add that the deception discussed in the case had very little to do with race and more to do with false statements about marriage, children, where he was about to take the victim, and why.

It’s difficult to combat a false narrative when no one is authorized to refute it. Still, it’s a good reminder that sexual assault stories are difficult to report on for very good reasons. And those reasons shouldn’t be ignored when coming across a case like this.

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  • Whimsy

    Help me understand how an innocent child raped by their father and then sold into sexual slavery ceases to an “Angel”, and becomes a person that deserves to be vilified and discredited. This case tells us several things. First, that children can become, early on, designated victims (once a child’s own parents act as perpetrators, and not protectors), they are at greater risk of repeated abuse. They have no sense of self preservation or self respect (so they then become vulnerable to future patterns of abuse).
    The second point I would make, is that this case is really about another issue entirely. In stands as an example of the epidemic of child and adult molestation and rape in Israel. Stories of the sexual abuse of children and women, and the courts horrific treatment of those victims, isn’t news in Israel. Neither is the vilification of rape victims by the press and by the courts. And that, is really the story here that is being ignored. Comments about the character of the victim, and the blame of the victim says a lot about how far we still have to go in treating the epidemic of child and adult sexual abuse in Israel.

  • Jeffrey

    I’d only add that the deception discussed in the case had very little to do with race and more to do with false statements about marriage, children, where he was about to take the victim, and why.

    According to whom? Is that your opinion or is it a fact?

    As liberal as Haaretz is, it would be interesting to know how the Muslim press is interpreting this story because any Jewish/Muslim story in Israel is going to be pretty complicated and subject to interpretation.

  • kjs

    Yes, it appears the media largely got this case wrong, since Kashur was originally charged with (forcible) rape. Still, it’s not a simple matter to say that the woman was actually raped. Reading through the (translated) Haaretz article, it’s clear she gave confused & contradictory testimony, and she also had a history of filing complaints (some vindicated, others not), which is part of why the prosecution agreed to the plea bargain. There’s a lot more to this story & it is shameful how badly it has been reported.

    That said … I know there are certainly a lot of ghosts in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, but is there a religious angle to this story at all? I’m not really seeing one.

  • Jerry

    I agree that rape cases are hard. I also agree with kjs. I don’t see a religion angle. There is, at least in the reporting, a cultural/ethnic issue but not a religious one. And, especially in the Middle East and with Islam in particular, the difficult job of separating the cultural issues from religious issues is a critical issue.

  • Chip

    How about more journalism?

    Haaretz publishes in English and allows searches by the name of the reporter or columnist.

    Did you check Haaretz for the story or ask why it did not appear there even though the paper has been writing about the rape from the beginning?

    Is it good journalism to base a story on a blog with out checking the facts?

    According to Haaretz the story you refer to appeared in the Tel Aviv weekly Ha’ir. What other facts did the source not get right?

    Get journalism?

  • Mollie


    No, Haaretz publishes in English and Hebrew. The story is here. It’s in Hebrew. I linked to the translation above and it’s here, again.

    What you link to is, I believe, the only mention of the story in Haaretz in English.

    I think that Haaretz should rectify that as soon as possible. I’m sure you agree.

    As for the religion angle — I didn’t realize it needed to be spelled out.

    But that’s why I quoted Andrew Sullivan, for example. People took this story and ran with it to develop some particular ideas about a religion and the culture to which it belongs.

    They got the story wrong. That has ramifications. Thing is that the story about conflict between Israelis and Palestinians is, whatever else, a religious story. We could stand to see some better coverage.

  • Mollie


    You can go through the links I provided for more detail, but the transcript indicates that the assailant’s religion was only mentioned twice. His lies about whether he was married or had children and what he intended to do with the victim (she didn’t get the coffee he promised her, for instance) were much more prominent.

  • John Pack Lambert

    Where is it written the man was a Muslim? At least so far in what is directly posted in this article it only says that he is an Arab.

    There are many Christian Arabs in Israel. I have even read that Israel is the only place in the Middle-East that has a positive population flow of Christian Arabs. The Druze being Muslim is debatable, but they definantly exist in Israel. Whether any Baha’i in Israel are Arabs I can not say definitively, they are more likely to be Iranian exiles, but there are almost certainly Baha’i Arabs in Israel.

    Arab does not equal Muslim. Islamic Jihad and Hamas want to make it so it does, but there are many non-Muslim Arabs in Israel and the other western parts of Palestine, that is West of the Jordan. There are also Arabs in Palestine beyond the Jordan, but that is another story for another day.

  • John Pack Lambert

    Actually I am with you, I do not see the religious angle, other than maybe Jews are so conflicted now on who is a Jew that few can muster the traditional definition when it could be used to lessen tensions.

    A Jew is a child of a Jewish mother. At some level this is a method of preserving the identity rights of the children of rape. At least some have put forward the theory that it is the difficulty of knowing the fathers identity in all cases that caused the Jews to use this definition.

    On the other hand, I would point out to Mollie that being Arab is not a religion.

  • John Pack Lambert

    I went through a reading of the entire Ha’aretz article. The man is always described as an Arab, never by a religious moniker.

    Technically it is also not alleged that he “claimed to be a Jewish bachelor”, what he claimed was to be a bachelor with no children with the name of Daniel Cohen. That is to imply being Jewish, but clearly different than to say he is Jewish.

    The fact of the matter is, the clear lies he said were that he was unmarried and had no children.

  • John Pack Lambert

    Where is Islam in this case? No one is described as a Muslim.

    Your argument of religious/cultural overlap could be made for Jews as well. However you are inserting Islam into the case with no basis. No where is the rapist described as a Muslim. He is an Arab, that is not the same thing.

  • sanych

    1. The original story was about a “racist” promiscuous ethnic Jewish woman who accused an ethnic Arab man of rape after learning he was not a Jew. Then, the “racist” justice in the “racist” Jewish State convicted the Arab of rape. Jim Crow!!! Apartheid!!! Racism!!!

    2. We know now that this story was a fake. Yes, we are not the jury, we don’t know all the details of the case. Like in many, if not most, rape cases it is “he said-she said.” The woman was found half-naked, bleeding, with scratches and bruises in the staircase of the building. There is physical evidence to connect the man to the scene of the crime. Unfortunately, because of this woman history, her mental state, the prosecutor agreed to the defense’s suggestion to reduce the charges to “rape by deception” in order to spare the woman from defence’s aggressive questioning.

    3. BUT, ALL OF THIS IS IRRELEVANT to the real story. The real story is an antisemitic attack by the media on the character of the Jewish woman, the justice system of the Jewish State, Israel, and, by extension, on ALL JEWS – all Jews were all accused of racism. Even in the “updated” story Guardian accuses one of the most liberal judges in Israel – Judge Tzvi Segal – of being a racist. Anybody who takes time to read and reflect on this case will find that justice dealt very even-handedly and fairly (maybe even too fairly with the sex predator) with all parties in this case.

    4. This whole situation is absolutely OUTRAGEOUS!!! Every Jew, every rationally thinking person has to say – enough, enough with this double standard and demonization toward Israel.

  • Judy Harrow

    OK, so it looks like this was actually a forcible rape case handled by a plea bargain. But can we look at a hypothetical in which the facts were as originally stated?

    1. While fraud may not be quite as bad as force, it’s still bad. Is it unreasonable to criminalize fraudulent rape, perhaps as a lesser category of offense or with a lesser punishment, but with all the same legal standards of proof?

    2. With regard to the racism question: are there any examples of Jewish men being prosecuted for fraudulent rape of Arab women? Racism very often manifests as selective enforcement — in any country and with regard to any crime.

  • sanych

    @Judy Harrow

    You reply amounts to – “this story turns out to be a vicious lie, but we know that the Jews are guilty, that they are racists, let’s dig and try to find out”.

    On a general question #1 – Israel treats rape as a secious crime. Regular rape conviction requires a much longer sentence than the 18 month that was given in this case. That’s why it was plea bargained.

    And just to preempt your next argument – Israel has left Gaza and the rape of this woman has nothing to do with it.

  • Chip

    Mollie #6

    The story is here. It’s in Hebrew. I linked to the translation above and it’s here, again.

    My apologies. You were correct.

    I do think a link to the original story in Hebrew would have helped

    I, too, am surprised that Haaretz has not published the story in its English edition.

  • Judy Harrow

    @ Sanych (#14)

    I’m kind of shocked by your implications. This is the first time in my life that I’ve ever been called an anti-semite. My Bubbe and Zayde would be very surprised. My intent was to defend Israel. I was trying to say that racism exists just about everywhere (and is evil wherever it exists), and that fraudulent rape is a reasonable legal concept if applied fairly.

  • sanych

    @Judy Harrow #13 and 16

    1. There was no “fraudulent rape.” There was a vicious, violent rape of a vulnerable woman. Fraud had occured AFTER the rape. It was perpetrated by the Arab defender, his lawyer, and the liberal media, followed by the mainstream media.

    2. Your question – “are there any examples of Jewish men being prosecuted for fraudulent rape of Arab women?” assumes that Jews rape Arab women. It is the same as – “when did you stop beating your wife?” type of a question.

    I can assure you that if a Jew rapes an Arab woman in Israel, he would be put in jail. Unfortunately, the woman would be dead – killed by her relatives.

    I would also like to point out that your irrelevant questions could be interpreted as attempts to redirect the discussion from the subject at hand.

    If this was done deliberately, it is antisemitic. If not, …. the implications are obvious.

    Say hello to your Bubbe and Zayde.

  • Mollie


    Keep comments focused on the journalism issues — don’t get sidetracked.