Sisterhood Blog

Tel Aviv Rape, Blanket Indictment

By Elana Sztokman

  • Print
  • Share Share
wikimedia commons
Eli Yishai

It never ceases to amaze me how some so-called leaders will use women’s issues to advance their own agendas that have nothing to do with women. The overtly racist statements coming from the Shas government minister Eli Yishai last week in light of a Tel Aviv rape case were particularly troubling.

When the police arrested four Sudanese and Eritrean men last week on suspicion of raping a woman in Tel Aviv, some Israelis took this as an opportunity to indict the entire community of refugees that is concentrated in South Tel Aviv. I listened in horror to radio interviews with Tel Aviv residents talking about “those people” who have “taken over” the otherwise “normal” Tel Aviv — using language that is painfully reminiscent of my Orthodox Brooklyn upbringing, when we were expressly taught to cross to the other side of the street if we saw black men walking in our direction. For these sentiments to be reinforced in the year 2012 by a government official is particularly troubling.

Yishai said, in response to the rape, “Most African migrants in Israel are involved in criminal activity and should be imprisoned and deported.” As if to say, all the black folks in Tel Aviv are really just rapists, thieves, murderers, whatever. These statements give legitimacy to racism and may lead to criminal acts, like those that took place recently against asylum seekers,” said Michal Pinchuk, director of the Aid Organization for Refugees and Asylum Seekers in Israel (ASSAF). Indeed.

I would like to remind Mr. Yishai that an estimated 40,000 Israeli women a year are victims of sexual assault in Israel, according to the Association of Rape Crisis Centers in Israel — including, by the way, the victims of former president Moshe Katsav. (Meanwhile, Katsav’s protégé, Kiryat Malachi Mayor Motti Malka, was also recently arrested on rape charges.) According to Yishai’s logic, perhaps all Kiryat Malachi politicians should be rounded up and deported.

I don’t understand how Yishai, a man who supposedly cares so much about discrimination against Sephardim in Israel, can make such outrageously racist statements against Africans.

Yishai’s statement also makes me wonder why, of all these 40,000 victims of sexual violence, he only cares about one — that is, the one who pointed to African suspects. In fact, if Yishai might have also noted that many of the African refugees are victims as well. The Knesset has been talking for two years about how many of the refugees have fallen into traps of sex traffickers. Some of us are still waiting for Yishai to speak out on behalf of those women, instead of grouping them all as criminals.

All I can say now is that I really do hope elections come sooner rather than later, and that the next government is led by people who actually have a clear and inspiring vision for Israeli society. Right now, the absence of one threatens to send Israeli society backwards by a generation or two and cause irreparable harm to some of the most vulnerable people in society.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Sudan, Shas, Refugees, Rape, Eli Yishai, Immigration, Eritrea

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • "When it comes to Brenda Turtle, I ask you: What do you expect of a woman repressed all her life who suddenly finds herself free to explore? We can sit and pass judgment, especially when many of us just simply “got over” own sexual repression. But we are obliged to at least acknowledge that this problem is very, very real, and that complete gender segregation breeds sexual repression and unhealthy attitudes toward female sexuality."
  • "Everybody is proud of the resistance. No matter how many people, including myself, disapprove of or even hate Hamas and its ideology, every single person in Gaza is proud of the resistance." Part 2 of Walid Abuzaid's on-the-ground account of life in #Gaza:
  • After years in storage, Toronto’s iconic red-and-white "Sam the Record Man" sign, complete with spinning discs, will return to public view near its original downtown perch. The sign came to symbolize one of Canada’s most storied and successful Jewish family businesses.
  • Is $4,000 too much to ask for a non-member to be buried in a synagogue cemetery?
  • "Let’s not fall into the simplistic us/them dichotomy of 'we were just minding our business when they started firing rockets at us.' We were not just minding our business. We were building settlements, manning checkpoints, and filling jails." What do you think?
  • PHOTOS: 10,000 Israel supporters gathered for a solidarity rally near the United Nations in New York yesterday.
  • Step into the Iron Dome with Tuvia Tenenbom.
  • What do you think of Wonder Woman's new look?
  • "She said that Ruven Barkan, a Conservative rabbi, came into her classroom, closed the door and turned out the lights. He asked the class of fourth graders to lie on the floor and relax their bodies. Then, he asked them to pray for abused children." Read Paul Berger's compelling story about a #Savannah community in turmoil:
  • “Everything around me turns orange, then a second of silence, then a bomb goes off!" First installment of Walid Abuzaid’s account of the war in #Gaza:
  • Is boredom un-Jewish?
  • Let's face it: there's really only one Katz's Delicatessen.
  • "Dear Diaspora Jews, I’m sorry to break it to you, but you can’t have it both ways. You can’t insist that every Jew is intrinsically part of the Israeli state and that Jews are also intrinsically separate from, and therefore not responsible for, the actions of the Israeli state." Do you agree?
  • Are Michelangelo's paintings anti-Semitic? Meet the Jews of the Sistine Chapel: http://jd.fo/i4UDl
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.