Anat Matar: “Settlers can get away with rape.”

The new book by Matar and Baker. A must read if you have more money than sense.

The new book by Matar and Baker. A must read if you have more money than sense.

Last night Jews For Justice for Palestinians hosted Dr Anat Matar and Abeer Baker at the Indian YMCA to publicise their new book Threat: Palestinian Political Prisoners in Israel.

For Matar, a senior lecturer in the Philosophy Department at Tel Aviv University, it was a warm anti-Israel welcome back to London.

In February 2010 she spoke at SOAS where she called for an economic, cultural and academic boycott of Israel. However, saving her own skin, she said she didn’t want Israelis boycotted if they were “refusniks and great anti-Zionists”.

Abeer Baker, who describes herself as a Palestinian citizen of Israel, is a human rights lawyer and runs the Prisoners’ Rights Clinic at Haifa University’s Law Faculty. She received her Law degree from Haifa Uni. in 2001 and between 2001 – 2006 she worked for Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel.

Matar started by saying that since 1967 a minimum of 650,000 Palestinians have been in Israeli prisons at some stage or other and for varying lengths of time, which equates to every fourth Palestinian.

She said the estimate could even be as high as a million!

Israeli prisoners, she said, are treated as normal criminals while all Palestinians are immediately classed as “security prisoners”, whatever their offence, and that the chances of parole for a “security prisoner” are much lower than that for a Jewish terrorist.

She concluded that this Palestinian mass imprisonment, which has excluded a quarter of the population from Palestinian society, has changed the way Palestinian political life is built and amounts to racial discrimination.

She mentioned that many Palestinians are captured at the regular non-violent Friday protests at the “apartheid wall”. Many are held, some are indicted and some serve long prison terms with no parole in contrast to ultra right-wing settlers.

Baker told us that Israeli prisons are similar to “the occupation”; they are not for punishment, but to exclude Palestinians from daily public life and to weaken their political struggle.

Assassination, she said, was the harshest way to do that and then comes the Israeli prison system.

Putting Palestinians behind bars was the equivalent of the “apartheid wall” and that Palestinian families spend all their time worrying about their imprisoned relation instead of engaging in the struggle against the occupation.

She also said it was a breach of the Geneva Convention for Israel to move Palestinians from the occupied territories into Israel to imprison them.

Next she recited the torture meted out by Shabak, which included, sleep deprivation, physical torture (including beating) and shackling to chairs. Palestinians were not allowed access to a lawyer for three months, the prison cells are narrow, have special lighting and the walls are too tough to lean on.

All this, she said, was intended to make Palestinian prisoners more likely to confess.

She also spoke of Palestinians never properly getting their lives back after their release as they find it hard to get a work permit and they have their movements restricted.

She claimed that the only way a Palestinian prisoner would be allowed to use a phone is if he or she renounced all allegiances to their hostile organisation. But, because they are put in the same cell as people from their own organisation it was impossible for them to do that. However, Yigal Amir is allowed to call his wife.

During the Q&A I asked how practical it was for Israel to imprison a Palestinian anywhere else but Israel and how practical it was to give a Palestinian prisoner parole, it being unlikely they would return to prison if recalled.

I suggested that racism was not at play if there was such different treatment, but that conditions on the ground may be determining factors. For example, the settlers were supportive of Israel, while the Palestinians were not.

Matar said the settlers were not supporters of Israel from they way they set fire to mosques and Baker asked me to imagine a settler and a Palestinian raping a woman: “Would you say you should pardon the settler?” she asked.

I said there was no way a settler would be pardoned for raping a woman, but Matar interrupted with:

“The settler wouldn’t even get accused of rape.”

We almost got through the evening without the obligatory Holocaust analogy. But earlier on we had been told about Palestinians having to pay for their own food in prison, so that even in prison Israel is making money out of them.

Someone then said that it reminded him of Jews sent to Auschwitz by the Nazis being forced to buy their own train tickets.

Still, these two women earn a living from Israel’s academic institutions, while being allowed to write a book and travel the world describing how evil Israel is. Not bad for such such an oppressive state.

The irony was, as ever, lost on the audience.

(For the record Matar and Baker said that they did not agree with the way Gilad Shalit is treated)

17 responses to “Anat Matar: “Settlers can get away with rape.”

  1. there was quite a bit of attention after PMW came out with the info first. As best I remember the PA has granted the prisoners in the meantime a salary increase. If they really pay for their food and hopefully lodgings this seems under those circumstances only right to me and since the money of the PA comes from the international community anyway Israel may get at least some of its expenses these idiots make it incur re-imbursed albeit indirectly by the same people who appease and appease and appease the terrorist adoring PA.

    Official PA daily:
    Israeli media coverage of PMW report
    on PA salaries to terrorists
    is “incitement against the Palestinian prisoners”

  2. Ah and I forgot to mention that there was a study by a woman from an Israeli university that found out that the fact that Israeli soldiers refuse to rape Palestinian women is an especially perfidic version of racism. (I kid you not. It’s true and based on that thesis she got the grade she wrote it for).

    Anyway I see a contradiction here: on the one hand it is said that “settlers” are especially willing to serve in the IDF and provide the force with its most dedicated soldiers. If that is so, do they refuse to rape Palestinian women only while on duty? Do they do it while on weekend leave or do they have to wait until their service is up. Daniel mentioned service lasts 25 years (as with the ancient Romans btw).

    I think some detail on the when where and how rape is permitted to “settlers” and under which conditions the refusal to do it is racism needs careful scrutiny.

    • It’s called “Guilt by Reason of Innocence”

      Damned if you do. Damned if you don’t

      “Baker asked me to imagine a settler and a Palestinian raping a woman: “Would you say you should pardon the settler?” she asked….”

      It begs several interesting questions. Firstly, anyone who asks such a question is either totally out of touch with realities on the ground or is intentionally being very intellectually dishonest.

      Broadly speaking “settlers” can be divided into two groups. There are those living on small “idealistic” settlements, these are mainly very religious. On the other hand there are others who live on larger settlements because they like where the live.

      The first group is forbidden by Jewish law from raping anyone, or even from having consensual sex with non-Jewish women or Jewish women to whom they are not married. The second group pretty much represents a cross section of most elements of the Israeli population and there is no greater or lesser likelihood of them raping than anyone else. Therefore, why are we imagining a “settler” as opposed to any other Israeli raping that Arab woman”? Is this another daft attempt to sneak a big lie into the question?

      The second pertinent question is why are we imagining this rape at all? Depending on one’s point of view our cruel occupation has been in place for between 40-60 years. Where are all those victims of rape? Why do we have to imagine them?

      I have no doubt that in all those years a handful of Jewish perverts have done the dirty deed over those years, but in far lesser number of Libyan or Syrian women raped by their own soldiers during one decent day of fighting. The simple truth is that while we have our sick people, an ex-president to name just one, who do what they do when they can, the concept of raping and pillaging the enemy women has never been a Jewish value in the same way that it exists in other cultures.

      One can go back to Bible time when Dina the son of Jacob was raped by the sons of Shechem and while some of her brothers wrought terrible vengeance on the city, for which they condemned by their father till his dying day, it never occurred to them to rape the daughters of their enemy.

      The Torah itself by recognizing the lust a Jewish soldier may feel towards a defeated enemy’s women forces him to wait a month before touching her to see if lust turns to love, and if it does he can take her as a full wife with all according rights or send her home. In practice, later laws basically prevented even this from taking place.

      There are many reasons why Israeli men rarely see Arab women as sex objects as they might a Swedish tourist or kibbutz volunteer, prejudice may be among them. It’s also important to remember that the IDF always fights campaign close to home and most soldiers see their wives or girl friends at least every couple of weeks. I know of no cases of Israeli soldiers frequenting brothels in the same kind of organized way that their foreign counterparts are reputed to.

      For all these reasons I would reassure any Arab ladies who may feel discrimated against or their hubbies who may be asking, “What’s wrong with my wife?”

      To parphrase George, “It’s not you, it’s us.”

      • Reading you made me remember that some time ago there were reports about female peace activists getting molested. As best I remember they were the kind of peace activists who are going on tree planting missions and similar stuff in Judea and Samaria. The reports said that they were offered training courses on how to prevent and/or fight off harrassment and/ or rape … by Philistines. Even they never accused a “settler”.

      • In our cousins’ defense, the difference between wanting “peace” and “a piece” requires the appreciation of a not unsubtle linguistic distinction.

  3. Memo to the Home Secretary.The presence of these speakers in the UK is not conducive to the public good.

  4. The walls are ‘too tough to lean on’?
    Which planet do these idiots live on?
    But we shouldn’t mock the obviously mentally ill.

  5. Don’t fret, mockery requires some minimal level of wit and intelligence. “One size fits allers” like “Which planet do these idiots live on?” hardly qualifies.

  6. Daniel , go easy on Leah . The days of awe are almost upon us !

  7. Daniel
    That’s far too deep for a simple soul like me .

  8. Proverbs 13:20

  9. And the perfect description of Daniel: Baba Metzia 85b.

  10. Silke, in her second comment above about the IDF & their failure to rape Palestinian women in sufficient numbers (I kid you not), refers, I believe, to a Masters Thesis by one Tal Nizan. There is an extensive discussion of the Abstract here:
    I have the temerity to comment at about 16 comments in, and find myself in dispute (with the redoubtable Karl Pfeifer riding shotgun) with an apparent troll disguised as “fred”, who keeps trying to change the subject

    • Meeting Karl in a comment thread is always a privilege.

      Here he is, sadly nobody has taken the trouble to translate it into English yet. There now is also a movie out on his life i.e. when he talks about who fought on the Arab side, he was there.

      But besides showing up on comment threads every now and then he seems to remain “safely” behind the language barrier.

  11. Maybe we could offer some kind of compromise whereby we would agree in principle to rape the Arabian females, thus proving ourselves to be in no way racists, but then delay the actualization of this agreement for the final stage of any peace accords.

    In other words we’d only have to actually have our way with these lovely ladies after all outstanding issues such as borders, settlements and the final status of Jerusalem are taken care of.

    Fair enough?