This summer, both the Israeli media and the international media went beserk covering a case in which an Arab man was convicted of "rape by deception" - in this case, having sex with a woman after masquerading as a Jew (two men were previously convicted of the same crime, however they had misrepresented their socioeconomic status). The Israeli legal system, concluded pretty much everyone, was racist.
Well, you probably haven't noticed that the real version of events was somewhat different to the one presented by the media last month. You wouldn't have noticed because, to the best of my knowledge, there has been no mainstream media outlet that has covered the new evidence that has emerged in the last few days; even in Israel, Ha'aretz, which broke the development, has only run its report in Hebrew (a bizarre editorial decision, considering how much attention the case received overseas).
Last week, in short, the testimony of the victim was finally released, following a petition by a local Tel Aviv paper, and with it, a fuller version of events has emerged.
The victim, "B", was a highly vulnerable woman, who had been repeatedly raped by her father, and forced by him into prostitution. At the time of the rape episode, she was staying in a women's shelter following another rape by her father.
According to her testimony, this was not consensual sex which she only got upset about once she realised her partner, Sabbar Kashur, was an Arab (as was claimed across the world); it was a real rape. Here is the full excerpt from Ha'aretz, which you should read in full (translation courtesy of Elizabeth):
On that morning, September 3, 2008, B. left with the director of the shelter, a social worker and another friend who stayed at the shelter to a meeting in Galgal, a crisis center for homeless youth. After the meeting the three left to another location. B. recounts: “I walked toward Zion Square and then sat by a Cellcom store at 13 Ben Hillel street… I sat on the rocks under a tree and listened to (music; LG) on my MP4.” Then, B. says, a guy she didn’t know appeared, riding a moped. In the interviews conducted with him later, Kashur said that he arrived there to shop at a near-by store. “He drove behind my back toward me”, continued B. in a broken language that characterized her whole testimony... “and he stopped few meters from me, like only a little far from me. He called me, like, to come to him, and I told him that he should come to me… we talked for about seven, ten minutes before the incident happened”.
At this point occurred the dialogue that was later used as the basis for the charge of deception against Kashur. “At first he told me his name was Daniel (and not Dudu, the nickname his friends use, as Kashur claimed in interviews; LG)… he didn’t want to tell me his last name… after a few minutes he like said ‘Cohen’”. B. also said that “he asked me if I have a boyfriend and I said no, and then he asked me if I want to be his girlfriend. I asked him if he’s married, and he said no, and then I asked him if he has children and he told me he doesn’t have children.” Later in that conversation, according to the testimony, Kashur asked B. for a kiss. “He wanted me to give him a kiss on the cheek and then he gave one back”. According to B., they also exchanged phone number.
At this point, according to the testimony, Kashur invited B. to see where he works, supposedly in the building at 13 Ben Hillel Street, outside of which they were standing. “He said he wanted to invite me for coffee and show me his workplace there”, said B. The reason she gave for agreeing to leave with an almost complete stranger was “I looked for someone to put my trust in… I know that strangers, you even don’t contact them… but because I was like, as you know, when I told you that I came from a place where there’s no, I lived on the streets for a while too… I thought that if I am with him, I’ll feel safe, and I’ll have, I’ll be financially secured. I really like trusted him.”
Right after they entered the building, B. claims, Kashur began forcing himself on her. “We were in the staircase, like in the first stairs of the building, where we entered and then he asked for a hug… so I hugged him because he said that he wants a hug for warmth and love because he didn’t have a relationship in a while, like a girlfriend… and when I felt that he was too clingy, I tried pushing him away, so he used force a little like, got a little aggressive.” According to B., Kashur wouldn’t let go. “He lifted my shirt and the bra and kissed my chest”, she said. But then, a blond woman entered the stairwell, and Kashur stopped. He decided to move from the stairs to the elevator. “When I was with him in the elevator he also touched me and started acting like some psychopath. I was so scared of him… I started sensing that something strange was happening, because I noticed that I wasn’t going to any workplace and I don’t see any coffee cups, and I don’t, then I began to panic and started like, I also screamed when it started happening.”
When they left the elevator on the top floor of the building, according to B., Kashur took her to the stairwell that led to the attic. There, according to her, he raped her. “We took off my pants and underwear”, described B., “and all of this was done with force, I didn’t agree to anything… I was left in just my shirt. Then he took off his clothes… then he put saliva on his penis and then, it was like full penetration, like, it wasn’t with consent as he claims. He laid me on the floor… and asked to kiss my chest too and then like when I asked that he stops and tried to push him away, he started pressuring me with his arms forcefully on me… when I tried to push him with my hand in his stomach, this happened in a more advanced stage, when he was already inside of me, then he said that if I don’t stay silent and I don’t resist, then it would like end faster and it wouldn’t be like, he wouldn’t use force. I still resisted him and it was forced.”
According to the testimony, after Kashur climaxed, he stayed lying on top of B. for a while. After that, he got up and left, leaving her half naked. “Then (Kashur; LG) just disappeared and took my MP4…”, she claimed, “and I ask that he return it to me because it is in his house.” Left alone in the stairwell, B. began to weep. “I was really hysterical”, she said. At this point she also noticed that she was bleeding out of her vagina and panicked even more. After a few minutes her brother happened to call and she asked him to call her caregiver. The caregiver quickly contacted B. who told her about what happened. “She told me not to freak out and call MADA [an ambulance – E]”, B. recounted the conversation following which Yasam [Special Patrol Unit – E] policemen arrived at the scene and found B. up the stairwell. “The Yasam (arrived; LG) before MADA”, says B., “when they arrived I was… I wasn’t wearing pants, like stayed this way, because I was in shock. The floor was dirty with blood and I was really afraid of touching myself to see if I’m alright, I was really frightened.” After this the MADA crews arrived as well. According to her testimony, in the examination in the Shaarei Tzedek Hospital scratch marks were found on her body, which were documented in the Prosecution’s file.
Following this incident, "B" was hospitalised in a mental hospital which has a section for women victims of sexual crimes. She was apparently not even aware that the man was an Arab until police proceedings had already begun.
Kashur was originally charged with rape and sexual assault - nothing to do with deception. However, in order to prevent a long cross-examination of the clearly traumatised "B" on the stand, the prosecution eventually negotiated a plea deal with the defence, who agreed that the charge would be changed to "rape by deception". While this carried a less severe penalty, it ensured that Kashur was convicted and reduced the trauma for "B".
By using this plea, in other words, Kashur got a lighter sentence than he would have otherwise. However, it allowed him to present himself as the victim of the justice system - as an Arab being punished for having sex with a Jew, rather than as a man being punished for raping a woman. And the media - completely ignoring the (admittedly technical and dry) protestations from the court system - swallowed the story whole.
So what do we learn from this? That some cliches are true.
First of all, a lie can get halfway round the world before the truth gets its boots on. It has taken months for the real story to emerge, although it sounded bizarre right from the beginning, and now it has no chance.
Second, as far as most of the media is concerned, why ruin a good story with the facts? The disgrace is that none of the international outlets which blasted Israel for its "racist" court system have bothered revisiting this story now that additional evidence is out. No one is interested in the truth. They were only interested in scandal, particularly where Israel was concerned; everyone was willing to believe that the Israeli justice system was unjust, because it fitted into an established and popular narrative.
The local Israeli media gets even less credit. They were in a better position than the international media to properly investigate this shocking story, but the tale of a loose, racist Israeli Jewess was too good for them to pass up as well. Now they are, on the whole, also ignoring the truth, allowing even the Israeli public to believe the worst about their own justice system.
It will be really instructive to see, over the coming week or so, how many media outlets do take their journalistic responsibilities seriously and correct their original stories.