Readers will doubtless remember the oodles of moral indignation which saturated the pages of CiF back in July when both Harriet Sherwood and Rachel Shabi ascribed racist motives to the verdict of a court case in Israel in which an Arab man was convicted of rape by deception. At the time Shabi declared that:
“This verdict, in effect turning the obfuscation of race into a criminal offence, also reveals the extent to which Israelis consider Palestinians to be abhorrent.”
Sherwood and her co-writer quoted Ha’aretz correspondent (and part-time Palestine Solidarity Campaign groupie ) Gideon Levy:
“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.'”
Adding for good measure:
“Arabs constitute about 20% of Israel‘s population, but relationships between Jews and Arabs are rare. There are few mixed neighbourhoods or towns, and Arabs suffer routine discrimination.”
Well now the full details of the case have come to light due to the publicity ban on the victim’s testimony having been lifted and they indicate an entirely different situation to the one so enthusiastically promoted by Sherwood and Shabi.
Last Friday, Ha’aretz – the newspaper which first broke the story as an example of Israeli ‘racism’ – published the updated details of the case on its website, but in Hebrew only. Interestingly, this time around they have apparently been too busy to provide an English translation. Fortunately, the enterprising Elizabeth Tsurkov has done the work for them and the English version can be read here. Read it for yourself, but, the long and short of it is that racism had nothing to do with it. The “Rape by deception” case turns out to have actually been a “brutal rape of a vulnerable and abused woman.”
Of course the Guardian was not the only foreign news outlet to enthusiastically jump on this band wagon. Like many others the Guardian once more proved that it is always prepared to believe the worst about Israel and that niggly issues such as the validation of facts or the reliability of sources will not stand in the way of a good opportunity for defamation, delegitimisation and the promotion of stereotypes. As I wrote back in July in response to Shabi’s article about this case:
“Shabi’s consistent and dramatic amplification of every Israeli flaw, real and imagined (to impute racism to the very essence of Zionism) is indicative of the consistent journalistic myopia displayed by the “progressive” Guardians at ‘Comment is Free’ when it comes to Israel – a political malady which French writer Pascal Bruckner would aptly term the “racism of the anti-racists.”
CiF’s editors really do need to start thinking twice before succumbing to the stereotypical group-think of fools rushing in which so often undermines journalistic standards on their pages. Yaacov Lozowick is quite right when he says that now is the time to demand retractions. And so, Guardian editors, we would like to see an immediate, full and prominent apology for the smearing of the Israeli legal system and Israeli society as a whole as racist.
And whilst you’re at it, we haven’t forgotten this story either.
h/t Victor Shikhman, whose post on the same topic will be appear on this site shortly.