Is Israel a racist state?

Jul 23, 2010
*Special to asia!

Men, you have been warned. Beware what you say to get a woman in bed, the Israeli court can jail you for rape. It has just done that with an Arab who pretended to be a Jew, opening unwittingly at the same time, a whole racist can of worms.

For three weeks I walked by this graffiti. But today it finally made some sense.


A graffiti with the Jewish Star of David reads: Our terror is legal

A graffiti in the Jewish neighbourhood of Nahalaot, West Jerusalem.


An Israeli judge just sentenced an Arab man to 18 months in prison for posing as a Jew and having sex with a Jewish woman.

Sabbar Kashur is a 30-year-old Arab resident of Jerusalem. He is married with kids. Two years ago, he met a Jewish woman and told her he was a Jewish bachelor who was looking for a serious relationship. The pair had sex, before as the mainstream Israeli broadsheet, Haaretz, reported “Kashur left the building without waiting for the woman to get dressed.”

It's not been stated how, but the woman found out that Kashur was not a Jew as he claimed, but an Arab. She then went and filed a criminal complaint for rape and indecent assault.

The 18-month sentence is a result of a plea bargain which amended Kashur's charge to rape by deception.

It is hard to tell which is more appalling: the conviction or the judge's explanation of the conviction.

The deputy president of the Jerusalem district court Tzvi Segal wrote,

“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.”

"When the very basis of trust between human beings drops, especially when the matters at hand are so intimate, sensitive and fateful, the court is required to stand firmly at the side of the victims ... otherwise, they will be used, manipulated and misled, while paying only a tolerable and symbolic price.”

How did the woman lose the sancity of her soul? By having sex with an Arab man? Even the loss of her body's sanctity is questionable, since the sex she had with Kashur was consensual.

Yes, as is acknowledged by the court, Kashur did not rape her. They did not have sexual relations against her will. The objection came after, when she realised he was Arab.

Was Kashur punished because he was an Arab who pretended to be a Jew and cheated a Jewish woman?

This is great news for a woman who wants to go out in Jerusalem and have sex with random strangers. If the experience was not all she hoped it to be, because the man turns out to be not as rich as he claimed, have a BMW that is really borrowed or stolen, or is a paper-pusher and not a hot-shot lawyer or banker as he led her to believe, she can always make a criminal report the next day against him.

Because, as Haaretz quoted Segal, even if it wasn't "a classical rape by force," and the sex was consensual, the consent itself was obtained through deception and under false pretenses.  And as it has been noted, the Israeli Supreme Court had earlier decreed previously that this is what's required for it to legally be rape on "false pretenses": "if in the view of an ordinary person this woman would have agreed to have sexual relations with a man who did not have the identity he invented."

In plain English, as long as he lied about who he was.

Alright, hands up all the men who have not lied to get a woman in bed.

And all hail the sanctity of the poor woman's body and soul. Israel can now prosecute against those that violate it.

Yes, Kashur has little to boast about, posing as a Jew and committing adultery. He lied and cheated. But it is ludicrous for the courts to prosecute him for it.

And maybe what the woman needs protection from is not men like Kashur. It is her own gullibility as a woman who takes the untested word of a stranger as the entire criterion in deciding whether to have sex with him. And I am not sure that is something the courts can or should get involved in.

Yes, and I say that as a woman. Welcome to the real world, where people lie.


So what has all this got to be do with racism? Well, amidst the absurdity of the case, a different set of questions are being raised...  about its racist undertones.

Was Kashur punished because he was an Arab who pretended to be a Jew and cheated a Jewish woman?

After all, he did not rape her.

Did the woman find the fact that Kashur was an Arab so offensive that she had to redeem herself by reporting him for rape?

And as liberal Israeli commentator Gideon Levy asked,

“If the man was really... a Jew pretending to be an Arab so he could sleep with an Arab woman, would he then be convicted of rape?”

It is an indication of the mistrust between the state of Israel and its Arab population, including the Palestinian population living in the territories occupied by it, that such a question is asked.

For many, the answer – cynical or not, would be, “No, a Jew would not be convicted.” And in cases like this, the truth will not matter. What counts is the perception of the truth, and the unfortunate and uncomfortable conclusion they draw from that: Israel is a racist state, at least towards its Arab population.


dan-chyi chua

Dan-Chyi Chua was a broadcast journalist, before forsaking Goggle Box Glitz for the Open Road. A three-year foray led her through the Middle East, China, SE Asia, Latin America and Cuba, and she's now grounded herself as a writer for, content with spending her days in Jerusalem.

Contact Dan-Chyi