Sisterhood Blog

Israel's 'Rape by Deception' Verdict Belies Racism

By Allison Kaplan Sommer

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An Israeli judge this week convicted Sabbar Kashur, a 30-year-old Jerusalem man, of rape and sentenced him to 18 months in prison. But his real crime was lying.

Kashur met a Jewish woman in September 2008 in downtown Jerusalem. He told her that he was single, Jewish and interested in a romantic relationship. The woman in question, must have never heard of “The Rules” (or common sense, for that matter). According to the court indictment, the pair “then went to a nearby building and had sex.”

The woman was outraged when Kashur immediately dressed and left her, and even more upset when she found out he was an Arab, and filed her complaint against him. He was charged with rape and indecent assault. Since the woman admitted the sex was consensual, Kashur asked for lenience and a sentence of community service.

But the judge ruled that:

The court is obliged to protect the public interest from sophisticated, smooth-tongued criminals who can deceive innocent victims at an unbearable price — the sanctity of their bodies and souls.

When the very basis of trust between human beings drops, especially when the matters at hand are so intimate, sensitive and fateful, the court is required to stand firmly at the side of the victims … otherwise, they will be used, manipulated and misled, while paying only a tolerable and symbolic price.

Beautiful sentiments. The only problem is that, if they were applied fairly, the jails would be bursting with men (and, let’s face it, women) who lied about being rich and well-connected when they were in fact debt-ridden, who were married while claiming to be single, and, of course, the classic case of those who insist that they are open to marriage and commitment when they are only out there looking for a quickie.

Arab men misrepresenting themselves is a sore subject in this neck of the woods, for obvious reasons. It isn’t unusual for parents of teenage girls to discover that “Rafi” whom their daughter met at the mall turned out to be “Rafik” — and that she only learned the truth about him after the relationship was established. But this does not justify the prosecution of this man, and the judge’s decision, both of which appear to be poisoned by racism. It is difficult to believe that if the man was an American Christian who signed up for JDate and claimed to be Irving Cohen from Brooklyn, that the case would have gone forward.

Any form of deception in consensual sex — though, sadly common — is morally indefensible and truly awful. In some extreme cases, a criminal case for fraud is justified and legal action should certainly be taken if one of the participants knows they are transmitting a sexual disease.

But calling this unfortunate one-night stand “rape by deception,” as the Jerusalem court did, is utterly wrong and does a vast disservice to those who are true victims of sexual assault.


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