Wednesday, December 29, 2010
A rapist who dodged jail, or a Palestinian man unjustly accused?: A Discussion, Part Two
A little background in case you haven't been following along: My post about the case of Sabbar Kashur, the Palestinian Israeli man charged with "rape by deception" of an Israeli Jewish woman was inspired by a post on the blog/online magazine +972 (subtitled "Independent commentary from Israel and the Palestinian Territories") written by Lisa Goldman. As I wrote in Part One Goldman, a Canadian-Israeli based in Jaffa, responded to a cover story about the case by Lital Grossman that ran in the Tel Aviv weekly magazine Ha’Ir (The City), in which she questioned the role of anti-Arab racism in Kashur's sentencing. Goldman suggested that since the lesser change of "rape by deception" was a plea-bargain Kashur actually benefited from being Palestinian by using his ethnicity to avoid jail time. The subtext, that excessive Israeli compassion for Palestinians blinds them to their criminality, is a familiar--if mournful-- refrain among "Liberal Zionists", and it was the red flag that drew my attention in the first place.
Before writing about it here at the POMEGRANATE I responded to Goldman on the comment thread following her post at +972. When our interaction went past a few posts I tried to opt out--in my experience the internet often inspires an obsessive tit-for-tat that kills potentially productive discussions. So, rather than dominate her comment thread I wrote my own post and told Goldman she was welcome to continue our interaction here. Unsurprisingly she did not take me up on my offer but I want to reproduce our final exchange anyway as a folow up because it was fruitful in teasing out the multiple threads--gender, race, Orientalism/Islamophobia (which she dismissed as "hackneyed terms" Ha.), sexism , nationalism etc.--that are tangled together in this case. Anyone interested in reading our exchange in its original context should refer to the comment thread following Goldman's post.
ME: Lisa, I don’t want to bicker with you and clog up your comment thread. But: of course I am not suggesting that it is impossible for Kashur to be guilty because he is Palestinian– I am arguing only that the case for rape against him could not be proved. However, once B’s testimony was made widely available Grossman and you (and others around the net) decided that it was credible, despite her universally understood mental instability, which is a bit unnerving. You wrote , “B’s story sounds believable”… Why? And what makes you conclude that Kashur may be guilty of rape after all because he served time on a lesser charge? As I have said, that makes no sense to me. In fact, the only way I can think of to justify your conclusions in the above post is anti-Arab racism.
[...] If you feel I have misrepresented your argument please let me know and I’ll happily note that. In your last response you made a distinction between Grossman’s take on the case and your own that is not clear to me from the original post. I do not want to attribute opinions to you that are better described as Grossman’s, even if I ultimately disagree with the rest of what you have written. I appreciate that you have responded to me and I’ll publish any comment you make over at VS the POMEGRANATE. Does that seem fair?
LISA GOLDMAN: [Responding first to another commenter who'd critiqued my earlier post.] Maayan, you and Joseph are exactly the same types. If you had been born a Palestinian-American, you would have chosen his argument. Neither one of you is capable of seeing beyond your biases to examine a case based on facts. You are both blinded by your agendas and your prejudices.
LISA GOLDMAN: Joseph, if Sabur Kashur had been a Jewish Israeli man, the charges against him would have been dismissed.