Israeli Professor's 'Rape as Terror Deterrent' Statement Draws Ire

'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,' says Bar-Ilan University professor.

Or Kashti
Or Kashti
Mordechai Kedar
Mordechai KedarCredit: Michal Fattal
Or Kashti
Or Kashti

“The only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped.” This assertion was made by Middle East scholar Dr. Mordechai Kedar of Bar-Ilan University about three weeks ago on an Israel Radio program. “It sounds very bad, but that’s the Middle East,” added Kedar, of Bar-Ilan’s Department of Arabic.

The program “Hakol Diburim” (“It’s All Talk”) was broadcast on July 1, immediately after the discovery of the bodies of Gilad Shaar, Naftali Fraenkel and Eyal Yifrah, who were kidnapped and murdered in the West Bank. It dealt, among other things, with the question of how Hamas can be deterred.

“You have to understand the culture in which we live,” said Kedar. “The only thing that deters [Hamas leaders] is a threat to the connection between their heads and their shoulders.” When presenter Yossi Hadar asked if that “could filter down” the organization’s ranks, Kedar replied: “No, because lower down the considerations are entirely different. Terrorists like those who kidnapped the children and killed them — the only thing that deters them is if they know that their sister or their mother will be raped in the event that they are caught. What can you do, that’s the culture in which we live.”

When Hadar said, “We can’t take such steps, of course,” Kedar continued: “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.”

Kedar is also a research fellow at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan, and in the past also served as chairman of the Israel Academia Monitor organization, which is involved in “exposing extremist Israeli academics who exploit academic freedom in order to take steps to deny Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state.” The organization is engaged in a battle against professors identified with the left.

In the wake of the publication of his words, feminist activists today sent a letter to Bar-Ilan University president Rabbi Prof. Daniel Hershkowitz, in which they decried Kedar’s “words of incitement that grant legitimacy to Israel Defense Forces soldiers and Israeli civilians to commit rape, and endanger both Israeli and Palestinian women. Kedar’s words echo expressions that treat rape as a remedial practice, although it is a war crime.”

Kedar chose not to be interviewed. A joint response with spokeswomen from Bar Ilan stated that he “did not call and is not calling to fight terror except by legal and moral means.” It also said Kedar “wanted to illustrate that there is no means of deterring suicide bombers, and using hyperbole, he gave the rape of women as an example. In order to remove all doubt: Dr. Kedar’s words do not, God forbid, contain a recommendation to commit such despicable acts. The intention was to describe the culture of death of the terror organizations. Dr. Kedar was describing the bitter reality of the Middle East and the inability of a modern and liberal law-abiding country to fight against the terror of suicide bombers.”

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