The case of an Arab man convicted of rape last week by Israeli court for lying to a woman about his religion in order to have sex with her has provoked difficult questions about discrimination and the nature of consent. (Watch an al Jazeera report about the arrest). Here's an instant guide to this controversial case:
What exactly happened between the accuser and the accused?
They had consentual sex in an East Jerusalem office building two years ago. The accused is Sabbar Kashur, 30, an Arab Israeli who went by the name "Dudu" — a common Israeli Jewish nickname. After meeting his accuser in the street, he told her he was a Jewish bachelor looking for a serious relationship. When the woman later learned Kashur was an Arab, she filed a criminal complaint for rape and indecent assault.
What was the verdict?
A Jerusalem court found Kashur guilty of "rape by deception" and sentenced him to 18 month in prison. One of the three judges on the case said that while it wasn't "a classical rape by force," the woman would not have had sex with Kashur had he not falsely represented himself, and "the court is obliged to protect the public interest from sophisticated, smooth-tongued criminals who can deceive innocent victims at an unbearable price – the sanctity of their bodies and souls."
Why did Kashur go by a Jewish nickname?
Like some Palestinians looking to avoid discrimination and better integrate into Israeli society, Kashur chose to adopt a Jewish name, says Israeli commentator Gideon Levy in Haaretz. "It happens. His chances of being accepted as a human being in Israel [were] nil" without doing so.
Are romantic relationships between Jews and Arabs unusual in Israel?
Yes. While Arabs constitute about 20% of the population of Israel, intermarriage with Jews is rare and controversial. In 2009, The Times reported on Israeli vigilantes that target Arab-Jewish couples claiming that are "protecting Jewish people." A 2007 survey for the Center Against Racism, found that over half of the Jewish population in Israel believed marriage between a Jewish woman and an Arab man to be a form of national treason.
Have there been other convictions for "deceit rape" in Israel?
Yes. The most notable was in 2008, when Israel's high court upheld the conviction of Zvi Sleiman, who claimed to be a housing ministry official and promised women apartments in exchange for sex. Sleiman was a Jew, as were his victims.
Are there "deceit rape" laws elsewhere?
Yes, many states in the U.S., including California and Tennessee, have laws that allow for rape by fraud, though interpretations tend to be quite strict.
Why is this particular conviction so controversial?
Many people are suggesting that the verdict may have been motivated by racism. "If the man was... a Jew pretending to be an Arab so he could sleep with an Arab woman, would he then be convicted of rape?," asks Gideon Levy. "And do the eminent judges understand the social and racist meaning of their florid verdict? Don't they realize that their verdict has the uncomfortable smell of racial purity, of 'don't touch our daughters'?"
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