Sabbar Kashur wanted to be a person, a person like everybody else. But as luck would have it, he was born Palestinian.
By Gideon Levy
Sabbar Kashur wanted to be a person, a person like everybody else. But as luck would have it, he was born Palestinian. It happens. His chances of being accepted as a human being in Israel are nil. Married and a father of two, he wanted to work in Jerusalem, his city, and maybe also have an affair or a quickie on the side. That happens too.
He knew that he had no chance with the Jews, so he adopted another name for himself, Dudu. He didn’t have curly hair, but he went by Dudu just the same. That’s how everyone knew him. That’s how you know a few other Arabs too: the car-wash guy you call Rafi, the stairwell cleaner who goes by Yossi, the supermarket deliveryman you know as Moshe.
What’s wrong? Is it only fearsome Shin Bet interrogators like "Capt. George" and "Abu Faraj" who are allowed to adopt names from other peoples? Are only Israelis who emigrate allowed to invent new identities? Only the Yossi from Hadera who became Joe in Miami, the Avraham from Bat Yam who became Abe in Los Angeles?
No longer a youth, Sabbar/Dudu worked as a deliveryman for a lawyer’s office, rode his scooter around Jerusalem and delivered documents, affidavits and sworn testimonies, swearing to everyone that he was Dudu. Two years ago he met a woman by chance. Nice to meet you, my name is Dudu. He claims that she came on to him, but let’s leave the details aside. Soon enough they went where they went and what happened happened, all by consent of the parties concerned. One fine day, a month and a half after an afternoon quickie, he was summoned to the police on suspicion of rape.
His temporary lover discovered that her Dudu wasn't a Dudu after all, that the Jew is (gasp! ) an Arab, and so she filed a complaint against the impostor. Her body was violated by an Arab. From then on Kashur was placed under house arrest for two years, an electronic cuff on his ankle. This week his sentence was pronounced: 18 months in jail. Judge Zvi Segal waxed dramatic to the point of absurdity: "It is incumbent on the court to protect the public interest from sophisticated, smooth, sweet-talking offenders who can mislead naive victims into paying an unbearable price: the sanctity of their bodies and souls." Sophisticated offenders? It is doubtful that Dudu even knew he was one. Sweet talk? He says that even his wife calls him Dudu. The court relied, as usual, on precedents: the man who posed as a senior Housing Ministry official and promised his lover an apartment and an increased National Insurance pension, and the man who posed as a wealthy neurosurgeon who promised free medical care and other perks. Dudu had nothing to offer but his good name, Dudu, and still his fate was sealed, just like those who promise apartments and perks. Not only fraud, but rape, almost like the convicted serial rapist Benny Sela. Supreme Court Justice Elyakim Rubinstein had, after all, defined the test of conviction for rape on "false pretenses": "if in the view of an ordinary person this woman would have agreed to have sexual relations with a man who did not have the identity he invented." In tune with the public, Kashur's judges assumed, rightly, that the woman would not have gotten into bed with Dudu were it not for the identity he invented. She also might not have gotten into bed with him if he had told her in vain that he was available, that he was younger than he really is or even that he is madly in love with her. But people are not prosecuted for that, certainly not on rape charges. Now the respected judges have to be asked: If the man was really Dudu posing as Sabbar, a Jew pretending to be an Arab so he could sleep with an Arab woman, would he then be convicted of rape? And do the eminent judges understand the social and racist meaning of their florid verdict? Don't they realize that their verdict has the uncomfortable smell of racial purity, of "don't touch our daughters"? That it expresses the yearning of the extensive segments of society that would like to ban sexual relations between Arabs and Jews? It was no coincidence that this verdict attracted the attention of foreign correspondents in Israel, temporary visitors who see every blemish. Yes, in German or Afrikaans this disgraceful verdict would have sounded much worse.
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