High Court Frees Arab in Case of 'Rape by Impersonating Jew'

The Arab man convicted of rape after telling a woman he was Jewish in order to sleep with her was released from house arrest yesterday by order of the High Court, pending its ruling on a petition against his 18-month prison sentence.

Sabbar Kashur at Jerusalem’s Malha Mall Tuesday.
Emil Salman

After two years under house arrest, Sabbar Kashur, an electronic cuff attached to his leg, took his children to the Malha Mall in Jerusalem yesterday. "I have my freedom back," he said.

"I have concluded that in this case the request [for release pending the High Court ruling] should be granted," Justice Asher Grunis wrote yesterday. "The circumstances, as they emerge from the amended indictment, are unusual. The possibility should not be ruled out that a higher court may reduce the petitioner's sentence."

Kashur was convicted following a plea bargain of sleeping with a woman after introducing himself to her as "Dudu," a Jewish nickname. When the woman found out he was an Arab, she filed rape charges. The charges were later reduced to rape by deceit.

In convicting Kashur, the District Court judges said: "If the woman had not believed that the accused was a Jewish bachelor interested in a significant romantic relationship, she would not have cooperated."

In addition to 18 months in prison, Kashur received a 30-month suspended sentence and was ordered to pay NIS 10,000 in compensation to the complainant. The sentence was criticized on legal grounds and in public opinion, and was widely publicized outside Israel.

The petition, submitted by attorney Elkana Laist of the Public Defender's Office, states that the District Court's decision represents a patriarchal attitude in which a man can enjoy sex but a woman can agree to it only if she receives the promise of a sustainable relationship, and only if that relationship is with a person of the same ethnic group.

The petition also states that while Kashur's conduct can be considered immoral, it falls within the type of behavior in which the criminal justice system in an enlightened country does not intervene.

People stopped Kashur in the mall yesterday to express their support in light of the High Court decision to release him.

Kashur said he had received hundreds of e-mails of support from around the world. "From Jordan, Syria, from Brazil. The most moving message was from an elderly Muslim woman from Brazil who said she's keeping her fingers crossed for me.

Kashur is now looking for work as a messenger, which he did before the incident. "I made a mistake. First of all, I hurt my wife. I hope the High Court decision is the beginning of a change, that the nightmare I've been living for the past two years will end," he said.