Rape case hinges on Jewish/Arab divide

2010-07-28 12:40

Lying for sex. It happens all the time.

Yet a married Palestinian man has been 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 rape.

Last week, he was sentenced to prison and fined 10 000

shekels (about R18 400) for “rape by deception”, an offence that may be unique

to the Israeli legal code.

Rape by deception was written into the law to protect women from

sexual predators, but some argue that Qashor’s act was not relevant – that he

was simply doing what so many men and women do for sex.

Professor Zeev Segal, legal analyst for the Israeli newspaper

Haaretz, said: “It seems to me a dangerous decision.

The law should not enter

into the delicate domain of relations between men and women.”

Having already spent nearly two years under house arrest, Qashor

remains there while he pursues an appeal that his lawyer says may reach the

Supreme Court this week.

The original indictment claimed forcible rape but the Jerusalem

District Court accepted the sex was consensual and a plea bargain reduced the

charge to “rape by deception”.

Judge Zvi Segal wrote in sentencing Qashor: “If she hadn’t thought

the accused was a single Jewish man interested in a serious romantic

relationship, she would not have cooperated.”

The court must protect the public from “sophisticated and

slick-tongued criminals who would lead innocent victims astray, at the

unbearable price of the sanctity of their bodies and souls”, he said.

While Qashor has readily given his version of events to the media,

almost nothing is known about the plaintiff, identified only as MT.

All Israeli rape cases are heard behind closed doors, and court

records are sealed.

Qashor said the woman was in her 20s, but there was no

independent confirmation.

Given the animosity between Jews and Arabs in Israel, Qashor’s

conviction elicited accusations of racism in newspaper columns and on

talkshows.

Historian and commentator Tom Segev said: “This is a case where it

is obviously not rape but fraud, and it smells of racism. It’s a real ugly

example of how basic values in this country are deteriorating.”

Speaking to The Associated Press from his home in east Jerusalem,

the sector captured by Israel from Jordan in the 1967 Mideast war, Qashor denied

telling the woman he was Jewish, saying the Hebrew name he gave her was a

nickname from childhood – a practice not unheard of among Palestinians.

He

speaks fluent Hebrew with no Arabic accent.

“I said my name is Dudu and she asked if I was married or single

and I said single,” said Qashor. “I didn’t tell her I was a Jew.”

He said he has kept the details from his wife and that his marriage

has survived the ordeal.

The law has existed for decades, but legal experts recall it only

being invoked once – in 2008 to convict a Jewish man who impersonated a housing

ministry official to solicit sex with financially stricken women by promising to

get them public housing and increased government payouts.

Dana Pugach, head of the Noga Legal Center for crime victims,

suggests the law sometimes takes things too far.

“I think that women still need protection,” she said.

“But I do think criminal law shouldn’t interfere in every case. I

think white lies should be permitted in a way.

Lying, unfortunately, is a

natural part of human relationships and not every lie can be indicted. But

defining the limits would be difficult. Logic should be applied to every

case.”

In this case, however, the complaint was taken seriously because

the woman initially accused Qashor of forcible rape “not because he was an Arab,

not because he pretended to be Jewish, but because she complained about being

raped”, she said.

No other country is known to have a law like Israel’s.

In Spain, rape by deception is a crime only where the person

involved is under 16.

A bill before the Massachusetts state legislature would target

those who employ deceit – and not just physical force – to engage in sex.

But

it’s aimed at sociopaths, not people who falsely boast of being doctors or sport

stars, said its sponsor, Republican Peter Koutoujian.



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