Tuesday, July 20, 2010

A blot on Israel's justice system

I'm appalled to read about a conviction for rape in Israel. The Guardian reports:

An Israeli man of Arab origin has been convicted of rape after having consensual sex with a woman who had believed him to be a fellow Jew.

Sabbar Kashur, 30, was sentenced to 18 months in prison on Monday after the court ruled that he was guilty of rape by deception. According to the complaint filed by the woman with the Jerusalem district court, the two met in downtown Jerusalem in September 2008 where Kashur, an Arab from East Jerusalem, introduced himself as a Jewish bachelor seeking a serious relationship. The two then had consensual sex in a nearby building before Kashur left.

When she later found out that he was not Jewish but an Arab, she filed a criminal complaint for rape and indecent assault.

Although Kashur was initially charged with rape and indecent assault, this was changed to a charge of rape by deception as part of a plea bargain arrangement.

Handing down the verdict, Tzvi Segal, one of three judges on the case, acknowledged that sex had been consensual but said that although not "a classical rape by force," the woman would not have consented if she had not believed Kashur was Jewish.

The sex therefore was obtained under false pretences, the judges said. "If she hadn't thought the accused was a Jewish bachelor interested in a serious romantic relationship, she would not have cooperated," they added.

. . .

Gideon Levy, a liberal Israeli commentator, was quoted as saying: "I would like to raise only one question with the judge. What if this guy had been a Jew who pretended to be a Muslim and had sex with a Muslim woman?

"Would he have been convicted of rape? The answer is: of course not."

There's more at the link.

I sincerely hope that Mr. Kashur appeals his conviction and sentence, and succeeds in having them overturned. He may be guilty of immorality, and of lying, but there's no way in the world his 'crime' amounts to rape. If he's guilty of rape merely because he lied, then so is anyone - of either sex - who's spun a tall tale or two to impress a potential partner after meeting them at a party or restaurant or bar, and who's parlayed that tall tale into a night with them. I'm not condoning lies, you understand: I'm merely stating that they don't equate to rape, at least not in any legal system with which I'm familiar, or which has any pretensions at all to justice.

I can only hope all those responsible for this judicial outrage - including the judges - will be removed from office and severely disciplined; but I guess that's not very likely to happen. In a country where racial and religious tensions are so high, it looks like revenge - under the guise of justice - is more important than upholding the rule of law . . . and that's very much to Israel's shame.


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