Unravelling the Israeli Arab 'rape by deception' case
- 17 September 2010
- From the section Middle East
New evidence has emerged in the widely-reported case of Sabbar Kashur, an Israeli Arab who was found guilty of rape by deception after having sex with an Israeli Jewish woman.
Back in July, it was reported that the two met in a Jerusalem street in 2008, had consensual sex within 10 minutes of meeting each other.
Two weeks later the young woman discovered that he was an Arab, not a Jew, and went to the police.
After his verdict was announced in July, Kashur protested his innocence in an interview to the BBC: "The whole case focussed on the fact that I am an Arab. It was real racism. The court insisted that I presented myself as a Jew and not as an Arab which is not true."
The conviction of Sabbar Kashur generated a heated debate around the world about racism, sexual mores and justice in the Jewish state.
It was also reported at the time that Kashur was charged with rape and indecent assault, and the conviction of rape by deception was a result of a plea bargain.
New details in the case emerged when the woman's testimony, which had been kept secret, was declassified last week.
It shows an emotionally disturbed woman who had been sexually abused by her father from the age of six, forced into prostitution, and lived in a women's shelter at the time of the encounter with Kashur.
During her initial testimony, she repeatedly broke down in court as she accused Kashur of rape.
She was adamant she did not want sex at the time of the encounter, but was looking for a lasting relationship.
Asked why she went into an office block with a strange man, she said: "You have to understand where I came from. I used to live in the streets. I needed someone to place my trust in. I felt I was safe with him."
Following the encounter with Kashur, the victim - identified only as B in the testimony - says she was taken away in an ambulance half naked and bleeding.
However, Lital Grossman - an Israeli journalist who has had access to B's full testimony - said she got very confused and upset at this point.
What is clear from the court record is that the woman was inspected by doctors, who found bruises on her body.
Photograpic evidence of the abuse was presented in court, but prosecutors feared the woman would not be able to give a coherent testimony, given her emotional state.
B had lodged 14 complaints of rape and sexual violence in the past. Most of those resulted in convictions, but in at least one case, she was found an unreliable witness because of her confused state of mind.
So when the defence attorney proposed to cross-examine her on every one of those 14 cases, the prosecution feared she may be too traumatised and undermine her evidence.
Thus, a plea bargain was struck whereby Kashur was accused of rape by deception for presenting himself as a Jewish bachelor available for a romantic relationship, whereas in fact he was a Muslim and a married father of two.
Kashur is now appealing against the 18-month prison sentence.
In a statement he gave after the victim's evidence emerged, he insisted he was innocent, pointing out that his release from house arrest backs his version of events.
"I have no prior convictions - this is the first time, while she has a long history of rape charges," Kashur told the UK's Guardian newspaper.
"She still claims I raped her - but even the prosecution, which is supposed to represent her, does not believe her."
In any case, Kashur's verdict left many observers wondering about the precedent it sets in Israeli law.
The judge's decision focuses mainly on Kashur presenting himself as a bachelor, but his religious background is also mentioned in the verdict.
"The charge does in fact specify that Kashur presented himself as a Jewish bachelor when he was in fact a Palestinian Muslim, says Lisa Goldman, an Israeli journalist and blogger who has been following the case.
"This sets a dangerous precedent. We now have a legal precedent for rape by deception based on presenting oneself as a Jew when one is in fact a Muslim," she adds.