Opinion

The Right Is Politicizing the Rape of a 7-year-old Girl

Members of the Israeli right-wing, anti-assimilation group Lahava protest outside the village where the Palestinian suspect lives, June 17, 2019.
Oren Ben Hakon

Rape, and especially the rape of a young girl, is a shocking thing, and we ought to approach it with caution. Somewhere, there’s a young girl who has no way to escape all the talk about her and the crime perpetrated on her. We shouldn’t add to this injustice.

That’s why it was so sickening to watch the political circus that has used this girl’s terrible personal story for its own needs. One “feminist icon,” former MK Yinon Magal (Habayit Hayehudi) – who quit the Knesset due to complaints of sexual harassment – declared, “It’s true this isn’t a ‘strong Jewish man’ who flung some word at a woman,” but women’s organizations should denounce it anyway. When someone wrote him sarcastically, “It’s because they support rape when Palestinians are involved,” Magal responded, “There is such a situation.”

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The prime minister’s son, Yair Netanyahu, retweeted a woman who accused a journalist of being a “media terrorist” because nobody leaked the story to him, and also because he reported on Sara Netanyahu’s criminal conviction. Earlier, the younger Netanyahu had complained that there are “lead headlines about takeout noodles but almost zero talk about the brutal rape of a 7-year-old Jewish girl by a Palestinian.”

The right-wing extremist organization Lehava demonstrated under the slogan “Fire tomorrow’s rapist today.” And Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan rushed to the television studios to assert that the rape was an act of terrorism – perhaps because he never paid a political price for his lies after police shot a Bedouin man in Umm al-Hiran in 2017. Even the prime minister published a rare condemnation.

Just like the last time Benjamin Netanyahu denounced Arabs who supposedly raped a Jew, it’s possible that this time, too, he’ll be forced to apologize. Already, significant cracks have emerged in the police’s account – changing stories, doubts about the suspect’s identity, questions about the girl’s kidnapping. I don’t know if the police caught the right man, if his motive was nationalist or if there are appropriate answers for all the questions. Very few people know.

Nevertheless, there are people who have gone to town over this incident. And somehow, it’s always the same people – the very ones who patiently tolerate the continued employment of Yaakov Litzman, Nissan Slomiansky and Natan Eshel. The latter, for some reason, even appeared on this paper’s op-ed pages on the very day the rape was reported in the media.

They can spit at every feminist struggle and at every complainant, but they denounced the rape of a child. And meanwhile, women who fight over this issue every day aren’t feminist enough. They didn’t meet the denunciation deadline set by those people, who care much less about feminism than about blood purity.

We need to explain what ought to be self-evident: Condemnation has no value when an entire society sees a certain act as unacceptable. Rather, condemnation is necessary when a large segment of the public is willing to accept an injustice.

Therefore, it’s important to condemn a Knesset member who sexually harassed someone, because many people don’t think this is a problem. Therefore, it’s important to condemn “price tag” attacks on Palestinians, because it’s become clear that all those wild weeds come from the same garden.

These are the places where it’s necessary to stand up, but too many people remain seated. A 7-year-old girl was raped. Instead of using this incident to spread racist hatred, accuse leftists of justifying pedophilia or avoid talking about Sara Netanyahu’s conviction, it would be better to, for instance, donate to the Association of Rape Crisis Centers in Israel. Those centers deal with countless such incidents every year, even those that haven’t yet merited your rare attention.