I saw this headline today and were my brain physically capable, it initially would have fallen over onto its side after reading it—
Okay. Stunned. Is this guy actually legitimizing rape as a solution to war?
Still stunned. Okay. Did this person actually say this? Let’s look at other news stories. They exist. Also in the article it says it’s from three weeks ago and his statement caused fury among feminist activists across Israel. All right, it seems to have some credibility.
And then I read the same story on another site, where his words were being offered an explanation in some of the comments—that he was not saying this is what we should do, but that this is just the way the middle east is—what’s honorable to these people will be the only thing that stops them from violence. All right. Two things wrong with that:
1) You don’t have to be from the middle east—anyone’s sister or mother’s honor is that much important to them I would think.
2) He’s talking about the Arabs in a condescending manner, as though they’re savages that get some sort of joy out of war. Sanctioned and closed off Gaza is not a dream lifestyle especially for people who had already been living there as their own nation. I’m not saying both sides can’t occupy the same region, but neither side’s history can be dismissed. The holocaust was absolutely unjust and detestable, but at the same time—to my knowledge, it wasn’t caused by the Palestinians.
I was wrong actually. There are more than two things wrong with this.
3) He’s talking about rape as though women are some pegs in a board game. Have you ever seen moms whose kids are learning how to speak and they’ll just whine for something and the mom will be like “Use your words!” That’s the feeling I’m getting here. He’s speaking but he’s not using his words very intelligently. And a toddler can’t be blamed as he’s just learning the language.
The headline admittedly is different from the actual statement within the article and this is where we have to be cautious and careful about the media—
“The only thing that could deter a suicide bomber is knowing that if caught, his sister or his mother would be raped,” said Kedar on Israel Radio Bet
“It sounds very bad, but that’s the Middle East,” he continued. “You have to understand the culture in which we live. The only thing that deters [Hamas leaders] is a threat to the connection between their heads and their shoulders.”
To the shocked radio presenter who said that “we cannot take such steps, of course”, Kedar replied:
“I’m not talking about what we should or shouldn’t do. I’m talking about the facts. The only thing that deters a suicide bomber is the knowledge that if he pulls the trigger or blows himself up, his sister will be raped. That’s all. That’s the only thing that will bring him back home, in order to preserve his sister’s honor.”
The point one commentator brought up was this:
He did not say that this should be done, he said that it is the only way to deter it, and therefore there is no method of deterrence available.
And I think that is worth examining because it may very well be that he was making the point that the method of deterring that seems like it would work is something so extreme and unthinkable, that it leaves the situation without a solution.
My criticism is not of his intention as I’m not equipped to make that judgement, but it is of his deliverance—he does not say ‘go and do this’, but at the same time he also fails to say “of course I don’t actually suggest this.” The fact that he’s able to fathom that as an example to use in casual speech comes off as deplorable. And his ambiguity while using a subject as serious as rape, is what’s troubling in this whole scape. It runs a lot of risks, and I agree with the letter from feminist activists that criticize his statement as:
words of incitement that grant legitimacy to Israel Defense Forces soldiers and Israeli civilians to commit rape, and endanger both Israeli and Palestinian women.
If he said this without actually endorsing it, then this sums up as poor communication and a contemptible choice of wording on his part. And perhaps he may be describing the culture as he’s seen it, and not generalizing Arab people. Let’s assume this is the case and that he didn’t actually mean ‘go and do this’— still why would anyone use this wording?
A wise friend of mine once said to me that no one is inherently evil. This guy has to have a sister, a mother, a wife—some female in his family too, so why would he choose these words? To understand that I feel it’s important to look at when he said it. It was right after the news of the three Israeli teens being found dead. Perhaps he was upset. That’s fair.
But whether he said this, said it and meant it, said it and didn’t mean it—we’re not going to know, and it’s not the important part. What’s important is that we can learn one thing for sure: we cannot respond to something like this in the same way. Just because an individual allegedly made a comment, which ultimately may be more hasty than it is evil, one has to remember not to say the same or worse back.
The current conflict seems to be political and not religious, but either way, comments of frustration and anger when made by a non-Jewish person still come off as anti-semitic. This guy’s comments came off as oppressive didn’t they, even if he was talking about plain theory? The one thing we can do is reflect on ourselves and not be careless in our speech.
Some oppressive people in Israel do not constitute for all of Israel. The same way all of Gaza is not militant. And we must be wary of this. We have to, have to be careful with our words, because they do make a difference. Oftentimes, all the difference.