Jewish/Israeli 'rape by deception' case: more than meets the eye

by Lynne Miles // 6 September 2010, 12:00

Tags: Islamophobia, Judaism, racism, rape

I don' t know whether readers remember reading a month or two ago about a case in Israel where an Arab man was convicted of "rape by deception" of a Jewish woman. The crux of the case was that she would not have slept with him if she had realised he was an Arab. There was lots of chin scratching and discussion at the time, over whether it constituted rape or not or whether she was basically just racist.

The full facts weren't reported at the time because the court testimony was classified. However, according to this site, it's recently been declassified, and it turns out to be a far more complicated case than met the eye.

In a nutshell, the victim was in her 20s, and a longstanding victim of childhood sexual abuse at the hands of her father as well having worked as a prostitute and been addicted to drugs. None of which stopped the sexual abuse from her father. At the time of the rape she was living in a women's shelter having finally escaped him.

According to her testimony, the convicted man dragged her into a hallway, stripped her, and forcibly raped her, leaving her half naked and bleeding when an ambulance arrived. She was in the process of prosecuting this when, essentially, the prosecution threatened to try to tear her credibility to strips by painting her as an 'unreliable witness'. This was based on her history of allegations of sexual abuse, her history of working as a prostitute, and some inconsistencies in her testimony (during which she was visibly distressed). This was their tactic in a plea-bargain to get the charge of rape dropped to the lesser charge of 'rape by deception'. Which is an awful lot different to the way the story was originally painted.

So what seemed at first glance to be a disproportionate punishment (18 months imprisonment) actually reflected something quite different. Nevertheless it was on record that he was originally charged with rape without consent and later took a plea bargain to reduce the charge to rape by deception, which didn't seem to be much commented upon. Perhaps an example of the media being only too keen to pick up on stories of women supposedly 'crying rape' despite the rarity with which they happen (most evidence concludes false reporting rate for rape is pretty similar to the rate for other crimes such as burglary). We still don't know the full details of the case, not having been at the trial, but it's obvious that it's an awful lot more complicated than the way it's been reported to date.

Comments From You

angercanbepower // Posted 06 September 2010 at 14:24

Why the picture? A horrific case, but do you have to resort to some sort of normative (and if you don't agree with that, at least prescriptive) form of maleness in order to make that point?

There are no "real" men or women and this has little to do with rape and nothing to do with this case so sorry for derailing, but I don't like it.

Heidi // Posted 06 September 2010 at 14:42

That poor women!
I can understand why she went down that route with the plea bargain and it makes me mad at how the media have spun this story. But I'm still uncomfortable about the fact that there is a law which could be interpreted that not revealing your ethnicity is tatamount to rape. Obviously the ideal solution would be for society to recognise that victims of sexual abuse can get raped, that prostitutes and ex-prostitutes can get raped. It's like sometimes I feel that certain segments of society think sexual violence is like chicken pox, that once it's happened then it can't possibly happent to the same person again so she must be lying. It makes me so angry!

Lynne Miles // Posted 06 September 2010 at 14:55

Ak, sorry, angercanbepower, I think you're right. We've just had a discussion amongst the collective agreeing that we need to use more images, ideally on every post. I *really* couldn't find one for this; in retrospect I probably would have been better using nothing.

Lynne Miles // Posted 06 September 2010 at 15:23

Oh, and I also forgot to credit it, because I'm an idiot, and now I can't find it again. So I've taken it down. I am having a Lynne-is-crap day!

Jennifer Drew // Posted 06 September 2010 at 15:38

I very much doubt that malestream media (yes my spelling of malestream is correct) will not publish the full facts concerning this latest miscarriage of justice.

Once again women are disbelieved and told they are 'liars' because apparently male sexual violence against women and girls is a rare and isolated event. It is never systematic and of course the Israeli legal system too must be held accountable for accepting a plea bargain, solely due to fact defence counsel would attack the female survivor.

Of course the male accused would not be subjected to minute cross-examination with a criminal court concerning his sexual history, or be closely question as to how he considered he had 'gained meaningful agremeent' from the young woman before he raped her.

Note too just because this man has not been convicted of rape does not mean the young woman's reporting was a lie - it only means the Israeli legal system decided not to present the evidence to a jury.

Remember too, there are far more false claims made in respect of car insurance than women falsely accusing males of committing sexual violence against them. The percentage of false allegations against males concerning rape has remained unchanged for decades - unlike false claims in respect of car insurance which have rocketed.

Sheila // Posted 06 September 2010 at 20:49

It is normal for people who have been sexually abused as children to have their evidence of sexual abuse in later life rubbished. Most painfully for me it happened when social services refused to believe that my son had told me his father had abused him. The reason they gave was that I was obviously and necessarily hyper-sensitive and couldn't be trusted to have impartial judgement on the matter. According to research conducted by the NSPCC, women who have been sexually abused themselves do statistically report more abuse by their partners of their children, but there is no evidence to suggest that the rate of false reporting is any higher. The fact (or theory depending on your beliefs) is that women who have suffered sexual abuse are (a) more able to spot it happening to others (b) more likely to feel they must do something because they are aware of consequences of inaction (c) are more likely to be in abusive relationships where abuse of their children takes place, because of their vulnerability. It is such a double whammy to have this happen and to be discredited as this woman in Israel was. It doesn't just happen abroad. It happens here. Don't assume the UK authorities and press would handle it any better - they wouldn't.

Elizabeth // Posted 07 September 2010 at 00:01

Thanks so much for sharing this. I cannot believe how much this woman suffered because of the media. The article that you linked to only mentions a little of the ridicule this poor victim had to endure.
Classic case of rape culture.

Jacob // Posted 07 September 2010 at 00:52

I'm really glad this came out... I think there was a lot of negative press directed at her... I believed the story as it was originally reported but thought it was really petty and stupid to blame her for her accusations given the pressure that must have been on her to do so, and level of ownership and disgrace imposed on her by people that would make her accuse a palestinian partner of rape via deception, rather than live with the shame of inter-racial sex.

I'm so so so glad that this vindicates her and highlights the horrific system wherein the only legitimate route by which a victim of constant abuse and rape can defend themselves is to comply with systemic racism... to live in a system where her rapist's horrible actions are considered more forgiveable than his being palestinian.

Someone rapes another person and the worse thing you can accuse them of is being of their own ethnicity and neglecting to declare it?

Where are Israel's priorities I beg?

Ana // Posted 07 September 2010 at 20:20

@Heidi

There is no law in Israel that makes not revealing your race to a sexual partner a crime. The rape by deception law (a version of which we have in the UK) is aimed at deception more generally. It should never be used in the way it appeared to have been.

The law in the UK was used to prosecute someone who told a woman that having sex with him would cure an illness she had. That is how the law should be applied correctly.

Pennyworth // Posted 07 September 2010 at 20:37

What is appalling is that for a non-Muslim, especially a Jew, to have sexual relations with a Muslim woman in most Arab or Islamic states really is a crime, likely met with death, officially or unofficially.

frank // Posted 08 September 2010 at 01:03

Although I'm not surprised that Israeli Justice hates rape victims too. The details don't make the way this man was prosecuted any less racist or less cause for consternation for being so openly racist.

Lynne Miles // Posted 08 September 2010 at 09:33

No, none of this makes the context that allowed the prosecution less racist, but most of that vitriol had been directed at the woman herself and I think it's right to try to repair some of that damage.

Paul M // Posted 08 September 2010 at 20:15

I must have missed something here. Frank, Lynne: If this is not about punishment for being Arab and pretending not to be — and it seems it's not — then in what other way was the prosecution "racist"?

(By the way, Lynne, in your write-up you say "... the prosecution threatened to try to tear her credibility to strips...". You mean "defence".)

Sanyh // Posted 13 September 2010 at 17:55

Bigots can't read...

Lynne,

As it is plainly written in the links you refer to, it was the defense that intended to aggresively question the woman's prior history and the prosecutors decided to spare her this agony and agreed to the defense's offer of plea bargain.

Have Your say

Further Reading

Has The F-Word whet your appetite? Check out our Resources section, for listings of feminist blogs, campaigns, feminist networks in the UK, mailing lists, international and national websites and charities of interest.

Write for us!

Got something to say? Something to review? News to discuss? Well we want to hear from you! Click here for more info

  • The F-Word Feeds
  • #
  • #