Tuesday, September 07, 2010

"Rape by deception" case was really "deception by media" case

In July, this story became pretty big - here's the AP version, but it was all over the media:

Lying for sex. It happens all the time.

Yet a married Palestinian man has been ordered jailed for 18 months for having sex with an Israeli woman after giving her the impression he too was Jewish, as well as single and interested in a relationship.

His conviction of "rape by deception" has drawn charges of racism and questions about whether courts should be delving into this fraught topic.

Saber Qashor, a 30-year-old father of two, says he was approached by the woman in September 2008 on a downtown Jerusalem street where he had parked his motorcycle, and introduced himself as "Dudu," a common Israeli Jewish nickname.

Within half an hour they were having sex in a Jerusalem office building stairwell.

After nearly two months, he was arrested and told the woman had accused him of forcible rape. Last week, he was sentenced to prison and fined 10,000 shekels ($2,500) for "rape by deception," an offense that may be unique to the Israeli legal code.

"This is a case where it is obviously not rape but fraud, and it smells of racism," said historian and commentator Tom Segev. "It's a real ugly example of how basic values in this country are deteriorating."

All of these articles were written based solely on the Arab man's interview. The victim did not speak to the press. The conclusion was often simple: that Israelis are inherently racist and would never convict an alleged Jewish rapist under such circumstances. For example, Andrew Sullivan (via The Volokh Conspiracy)
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. 
Other examples here.

Now, Ha'aretz (in Hebrew only) found the victim, and her story is completely different.

Elizabeth at MidEast Youth translates and summarizes the belated Ha'aretz investigation; here is her summary:

Last week, Haaretz daily published a long expose on the matter (my full translation below), revealing what was behind the plea agreement. The report shows, that the victim, B., was raped by her father since she was six-years-old, and was later forced into prostitution by him. At the time of the rape, B. was staying in a women’s shelter after another sexual assault by her father. According to B.’s testimony, first revealed in the Haaretz report, after Kashur claimed that he was a Jewish bachelor, he enticed her to come into a stairwell in a Jerusalem building, where he brutally raped her. B. was left bleeding, beaten up and half naked by Kashur.

Following the rape, B. was hospitalized in a mental institution, where she was investigated by the police. The Prosecutor’s office decided to charge Kashur with rape and sexual assault based on B.’s testimony and other evidence. When B. later appeared in Court to give her testimony, which was confused and contradictory at times, she was confronted by the Defense attorney with her past occupation as a prostitute and her father’s abuse and rape from an early age. The court appearance left B. severely traumatized. When the Defense learned that B. previously filed 14 complaints against her father and other men for sexual assault, it asked to cross-examine B. once again about the past complaints, while focusing on a number of them that didn’t result in an indictment and convictions due to contradictions in her story. The Defense planned to use B.’s past complaints to shatter her credibility. Wanting to avoid another traumatizing event, the Prosecution formulated a plea bargain with the Defense that reduced the charges to “rape by deception”. Essentially, using the threat of once again subjecting a vulnerable rape victim to a traumatizing interrogation, the Defense was able to reach a plea agreement with greatly reduced charges, which didn’t correspond with the facts of the incident.

The Israeli media has failed to thoroughly investigate this matter, resulting in widespread victimization of a rapist and mockery of the “gullible” woman. B. was victimized and abused by her surrounding from an early age, and unfortunately, the Israeli and foreign media, pundits and the blogosphere, victimized her once again.
Not only was the victim's pain minimized, but the entire case was looked upon in opinion pieces and blog posts as yet another example of Israeli racism against Arabs, when in fact it was nothing of the sort.

Will we see retractions? Not very likely. Even Ha'aretz hasn't put this report out in English (they alluded to it here), so the lazy employees in Israel from AP and Reuters aren't aware of this update to begin with, since they use English Ha'aretz as their main source for their "reporting."