One can argue about the ugly, brutal and disgusting things that Israel does to its neighbors and occupied territories till one’s blue in the face for all the good it will do you in our current discourse. But I doubt that most people can read the following without feeling some sort of revulsion and unease about the diligent sacrifice of ethics and humanity needed to maintain ethnically exclusive “democratic” states. From the Electronic Intifada:
For those unfamiliar with the case the story goes like this. A young Jewish Israeli woman and a young Palestinian Jerusalemite had consensual sex. Afterwards, the Jewish woman discovered that her partner was in fact not Jewish at all, but horror of horror, a Palestinian. But there was more, the Palestinian had called himself “Dudu,” his nickname, but one most often used by Israeli Jews, and from this the young woman concluded she had been deliberately deceived and in fact raped.
In our society of course, refusal to contemplate a relationship with a person from another ethnic or religious background is described and denounced as racism or bigotry. In Israel it is now protected by law. The court found that indeed the young Jewish woman had in fact been raped, not by force of course, but by name. Finding the Palestinian guilty, district court Judge Zvi Segal stated, “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.”
Sadly, this all has very worrying historical echoes. It hints back to the Apartheid and Jim Crow Laws which presupposed dangerous Blacks waiting to pounce on virginal Whites. It also conjures up the notorious images from the Nazi publication Der Sturmer of supposedly lecherous Jews trying to seduce young Aryan Germans, no doubt also at the unbearable price of the sanctity of their bodies and souls. In part it also shares the Nazi obsession with racial mixing and the naming policy Germany introduced to eliminate any possible confusion in ethnicity. Except perhaps Nazi policy was more honest. In the Nuremberg Laws Germany explicitly outlawed sexual relations between Jews and non-Jews; Israel does no such thing, it merely makes it a crime if sex takes place without the actors being fully aware of each other’s background. Perhaps then Israel should take a leaf of out of Germany’s 1938 naming law: every Muslim to have the name Muhammad attached; every Christian, Jesus. But it won’t do that, after all, that is racist.
Ha’aretz reports that the Israeli High Court delayed imposing sentence in this case. An earlier article in this case, makes clear just what kind of thinking the conviction was based on. In other cases, the Israeli High Court had ruled that men fraudulently assuming identities and trading sex for favors that could be granted by the fraudulent identity–such as a Housing Official implying he could get an apartment for someone in exchange for sex–could be convicted of rape. In its essence:
High Court Justice Elyakim Rubinstein said a conviction of rape should be imposed any time a “person does not tell the truth regarding critical matters to a reasonable woman, and as a result of misrepresentation she has sexual relations with him.”
The law seems problematic enough. But when race/ethnicity are substituted here as a “critical matter” important to a “reasonable woman”, some elemental distortions are revealed about the society. Had the man lied about being an American or French, it’s difficult to see this rape charge eliciting more than laughter. That the law would consider a “reasonable” woman’s ideas about Arab race/ethnicity “critical” enough to contemplate a year and a half rape charge should cause “reasonable” Israelis to stand back and take a sober look at how distorted their society has become.