middle east, politics

“Passing” in the Jewish State

Published on:
http://www.thecanadiancharger.com/page.php?id=5&a=525

Just when you thought things in Israel couldn’t get much worse for its Arab citizens, it was recently announced that Sabbar Kashur, an Israeli Arab, has been sentenced to 18 months of prison time for posing as a Jewish man in order to have consensual sex with a Jewish woman.

“When the woman found Kashur was not a Jew but an Arab, she filed a police complaint that led to charges of rape and indecent assault,” reports Haaretz, Israel’s largest news outlet. The verdict came as the judge presiding the case frankly admits that “If she [Kashur’s sexual counterpart] hadn’t thought the accused was a Jewish bachelor interested in a serious romantic relationship, she would not have cooperated.”

Since his arrest in 2008, Kashur (married with two kids) has been under house arrest.

Also since 2008, the Israeli High Court has set a precedent (in an earlier case) regarding these types of cases—ones involving deception and sex. As reported by Haaretz: “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 application of this principle has elicited a mixture of responses from Israeli civil society, many of whom believe that the approach take by legal officials in the case of Kashur was much too severe. It is quite true, as stated by Dana Pugach of Israel’s Noga Center for Victims of Crime, that an individual deserves the truth before going into a sexual relationship or a fling with someone. This principle should apply across the board: diseases, class, occupation, etc. However, Kashur’s case is useful in the sense that it is illustrative of the unveiled racism present in Israeli society today.

It is quite obvious that the Jewish woman who sued Kashur would not have been so indignant if Kashur, who used the moniker “Dudu” when talking to the woman, was actually Jewish. The lady has a right to have sexual relations with whomever she chooses, but the fact that she decided to have Kashur arrested due to a lie based on his ethnic background is highly illustrative, if not exceedingly disturbing. Had the issue been one of say, HIV/AIDS, a stiff sentence would have been understandable.

But this woman, although deceived, certainly thought that Kashur looked Jewish enough to have sex with him. It was only after that the two went to bed together, when she found out the horrific truth that the man she just shagged was—gasp—an Arab, that she reported this “criminal travesty”. One cannot help but think of the numerous women who were tricked into the sack based on lies of say, social status or even money. After all, what’s Vegas good for anyway? This is not to whitewash deception, but to tease out the racist connotations of the contemporary Israeli social and legal systems.

The court ignored the community service option, and gave Kashur 18 months in prison, in addition to the years of house arrest.

Juan Cole of the massively popular “Informed Comment” blog draws the analogy between Kashur’s case and the phenomenon of “passing” during the Jim Crow era of American history.

The similarities are troubling to say the least.

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politics

Israel the Insane

It is by now unequivocally clear, except for those in the deepest trenches of denial,  that Israel’s “special relationship” with the United States is deadly in its effects and consequences. The latest raid of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla on May 31st, 2010 left one Unite States aid worker dead, along with another eight Turkish activists aboard the Mavi Marmara. His name was Furkan Dogan, and he was only 19 years old (he also loved chess, and wanted to become a doctor in his adulthood). Despite being an American citizen (Furkan was a dual citizen, with Turkish citizenship as well), Barack Obama has not condemned the deadly raid.

Take sometime to think about that. Let it sink in for a little bit: what country, no matter how rotten or out of touch, does not get angry when their own national is executed with a bullet in his chest, and four in his head–all at close range? My God, even Cameron from the UK has condemned Israel’s actions, and asked for a lifting of the brutal, three year seige of Gaza.  If the raid had been carried out by any other country, the coverage would have been different, the reactions would have been outrageous, and FOX or CNN or some other propagandistic outlet would be beating the drums of war against the perpetrators. But not this time. Israel, unlike any other country, enjoys full immunity from the most powerful country in the world, which provides it with all the diplomatic support it needs in the UN to go along with billions in economic and military aid.

Moreover, it is more and more apparent that Israel is becoming a liability for the United States diplomatically and geopolitically. Turkey’s anger at Israel, as expressed by Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogen, may have serious consequences for the United States. The US is still courting Turkey’s support for the new round of sanctions on Iran, while also pressing Turkey (as a NATO member) to increase its troop levels in Afghanistan. Turkey also acts as a facilitator/conduit for around 70% of the US’s weaponry for the war effort in Iraq. [May I also add here that it would not be 100% consistent or wise to give Erdogen or the Turkish government all the praise here, for the reasons I just mentioned. Also, it is Turkish and global civil society that deserves all the praise in this case.]

Despite still dealing arms with Israel, Turkey has pulled out its ambassador, and has cancelled (for now) a joint research program with Israel on issues of energy. Tension is definitely at an all-time-high between the two countries, putting the United States in an awkward position. Not to mention, it is exactly this type of murderousness and blood-thirstiness that induces a high recruitment rate for terrorist organizations around the world.

It is also absolutely unequivocal that Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip is 100% illegal according to the Geneva Conventions, and that Israel systematically blocks aid coming into Gaza and its densely packed 1.5 million residents. What meager aid that Israel does truck into the Strip, according to the UN, is not even enough to feed a quarter of Gaza’s starving residents.

Where will the United States go from here? Some say that “here” is so low that up is the only way possible; I say it’s up to global civil society to decide (advocacy, BDS, education, etc). The US coverage of the flotilla murders is nothing short of atrocious, and the Israel Lobby is still strong.  As a new aids ship, the Rachel Corrie, sails across the ocean for Gaza, Israeli PM Netanyahu has again vowed to stop its delivery.

Israel has not only successfully transformed itself into an apartheid state, but also into a state of insane conduct in the face of the global community. With America’s patronage, it has gotten to the the point where its excuses are laughable to the fifth grader.

But one thing is clear. Whatever reputation Israel loses in the eyes of the world after this raid, the sacrifices made by those who were brutally murdered would have played an incredible part in. It literally took martyrdom for some in the world to notice, but it is of utmost importance and urgency that such martyrdom and sacrifice not pass in vain.

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