TRIGGER WARNING: This article contains sexually explicit words and images.

As Israel’s latest assault on Gaza enters its third week, the destructive force unleashed upon the Strip has taken a massive toll, leaving over 650 Palestinians dead, over 4,200 wounded – mostly civilians – and over a hundred thousand homeless. As Gaza is pummeled, the level of anti-Palestinian racist incitement from top Israeli political, religious and cultural figures continues to ring at peak pitch, and has taken on a dangerous misogynistic tone.

Promoting the Rape of Gaza and Its Women

On July 21, Israeli media reported that Dov Lior, Chief Rabbi of the West Bank settlement Kiryat Arba, issued a religious edict on the rules of engagement during wartime, which he sent to the country’s Defense Minister. The edict stated that according to Jewish religious law, it is permissible to bomb innocent Palestinian civilians and “to exterminate the enemy.”

While Lior is held in high regard, he is also associated with religious Zionism’s “conservative wing.” By contrast, David Stav, Chief Rabbi of the town of Shoham is considered to be a leader of religious Zionism’s “liberal” stream. In an op-ed published the same day news of Lior’s edict broke, Stav characterized the assault on Gaza as a holy war, which is mandated by the Torah itself and must be merciless.

While these leading religious figures called for wars of extermination, some secular Israelis suggested carrying out attacks of a more perverse nature.

The day after Lior and Stav made headlines, news emerged that the City Council of Or Yehuda, located in Israel’s coastal region, printed out and hung a banner supporting Israeli soldiers. The display included language suggesting the rape of Palestinian women. The text of the banner read: “Israeli soldiers, the residents of Or Yehuda are with you! Pound ‘their mother and come back home safely to your mother.”

gaza-israel-women-1

This English translation of the Hebrew “Kansu” as “pound” (or its synonym “bang,”) literally means to beat, but also has a colloquial meaning connoting sexual penetration. In the Hebrew original, the double-entendre is inverted: “Kansu B’” has the colloquial meaning of physically attacking someone, but literally means to enter, sexually or otherwise – this sexual connotation can be found on multiple Hebrew-language sex blogs.

The phrase “their mother,” “ima shelahem” in Hebrew, also has the colloquial meaning of “with great intensity.” The idiom developed precisely because, for many people,  witnessing their mother being assaulted is more painful than  receiving a blow to their own person. In the context of the city’s banner, the language of sexualized violence is borrowed in order to articulate ruthless subjugation of Gaza’s Palestinian population.

Clearly the Or Yehuda City Council’s intent was to show support for the Israeli army with what it considered to be clever wordplay. By choosing the crass expression “Kansu ba-ima shelahem” – meaning “beat them with great intensity” and also “enter their mother” – the council was both encouraging violence toward Palestinians and subtly tapping into rape culture, which is widespread in Israel.

The banner’s appearance in Or Yehuda came just days after a composited image suggesting Gaza’s sexual violation was widely shared by regular Israelis on the popular social networking application, WhatsApp.

gaza-israel-women-2

In the image, a woman labeled “Gaza,” wears conservative Muslim dress from the waist up and nearly nothing from the waist down, while striking an alluring pose and giving the viewer a come-hither glance. The accompanying Hebrew text reads: “Bibi, finish inside this time! Signed, citizens in favor of a ground assault.” Again, a double-entendre was used to promote war while referencing rape. In Hebrew, the colloquial meaning of “finish” is to ejaculate.

If the Or Yehuda banner only hinted at rape and the WhatsApp image played coyly with it, a leading Israeli academic blatantly floated the idea of using rape against the Palestinians at the very start of the current round of hostilities.

On July 1, just after the bodies of three Israeli teens who had gone missing in the West Bank were found, Bar Ilan University lecturer Dr. Mordechai Kedar spoke on Israeli radio about raping Palestinian women in order to deter “terrorism,” saying that only the knowledge that Israel could dispatch agents to rape a Palestinian militant’s mother or sister, as retribution for his crimes, could deter him from carrying out those actions.

None of these recent rape references should come as much of a surprise after the Israeli army promoted Eyal Qarim to become the second-most powerful chaplain in its ranks, years after he had ruled that raping Palestinians was permissible during wartime. Only after top Israeli blogger Yossi Gurvitz publicly exposed the repugnant ruling in March 2012 did the rabbi walk back his vile verdict.

“Slut-Shaming” Jewish Israeli Women Supporting Palestine

In the last month, Palestinian women have not been the only ones to be threatened with sexual violence from Israel’s public figures. On the same day Kedar gave his odious interview, Rabbi Noam Perel, the global leader of Bnei Akiva, the largest religious Jewish youth group in the world, authored a Facebook post calling for the mass-murder of Palestinians and the taking of their foreskins as trophies. Perel received no censure for his horrific comments.

As in most chauvinistic societies, it is women who bear the brunt of male sexual violence, and Jewish Israeli women have not been spared. Those women who publicly profess support for Palestinians, African asylum-seekers, or any other non-Jewish group in Israel are often “slut-shamed” and persistently targeted by ultra-nationalists with threats of  various forms of sexual assault, including gang rape.

Sexual violence against Jewish-Israeli women is not only perpetrated by rowdy right-wing hooligans. Today is the last day Shimon Peres will hold the title of President of Israel. His immediate predecessor Moshe Katsav, currently sits in jail, serving a sentence for rape and other sex crimes. Tomorrow in Jerusalem, Peres will be replaced by Reuven Rivlin. Rivlin won the post largely because his two main rivals, Silvan Shalom and Meir Shitrit, were both credibly accused of committing serious sex crimes during the presidential election campaign. Likewise, Jerusalem’s current chief of police was selected to replace Nisso Shaham, after he was indicted for allegedly committing a series of sex crimes.

As anti-Palestinian incitement in Israeli society reaches truly terrifying levels, it has mixed with misogyny to create a cocktail of hate of unknown potency. Perhaps, as many Zionists claim, all this talk is just bluster and Jewish Israelis are mostly incapable of committing rape as an act of war.  It is worth recalling, though, that these same people made identical claims about torture and murder until one month ago, when a group of Jews kidnapped Palestinian teen Mohammed Abu Khdair, forced him to drink fuel, and lit him on fire from the inside out.

19 Responses

  1. Yanay Tsabary

    two things:
    1. Not like some of the Arab nations, religious leaders are not the countries leaders. Nor me or the people pulling the IDF string give a rats ass about what some rabbi said.

    2. “Kansu b’ ima shela’em” is Hebrew slang for “kick their assed” and by their, the sign talks about Hamas terrorist. And yes, we would love to kick Hamas terrorists assed every day of the week, and we are not going to apologize for that. I say again -Hamas terrorists- not random Arabs like you try to make other people think.

    Reply
    • Nurit Baytch

      Yes, multiple Hebrew speakers on Twitter have pointed out that Sheen mistranslated that phrase, which could also be translated as “Get those motherf***ers!” Just as in English, such a statement has no sexual connotation, neither does the sign.

      re: Dov Lior, Sheen also misleadingly characterized him as “held in high regard.” This is not true outside of far-right circles. JTA accurately (and arguably euphemistically) describes Dov Lior as a “controversial far-right Israeli rabbi.”

      Reply
  2. doroteoarangoaramburu

    The Israeli army –like all bullies and thugs – is always victorious against women and children and people with no air force, no navy, no formal army and no tactical nuclear weapons such as the democratically elected government of Hamas in Gaza. However, the Israeli thugs are not so “valiant” when they find courageous resistance, such as when they got defeated by Hezbollah in Lebanon, that is why they are not going back to Lebanon again. Even in heroic Gaza, the Israeli thugs are finding fierce resistance to the
    Occupiers. Peace is impossible when a racist state declares lunatic messianic delusions, claims a direct contact with God and believes they are “chosen”, as written in a fantasy book.

    Reply
  3. Deema

    Right, like the kids that were bombed on the beach while playing and the hundreds of civilians. Zionists aren’t after Hamas. They’re using them as an excuse to wipe out every last person in Gaza. There’s nothing random about these killings, they know exactly what they’re doing and we all know it. To hell with Israel.

    Reply
    • HipJipC

      I agree with you all the way. Just call it what it is though, extermination, genocide. The sickest of mankind have the power. Israel’s biggest supporters, the U.S.of Israel. With their combined team work, they can wipe out an entire race and confiscate (STEAL) their resources (gas reserves). It’s all in a days work for these nut jobs. And all the little nut job, ass kissers who follow them make it all possible. And yes, I am arrogant and narcissistic. Anyone who does NOT partake in or support barbaric practices IS the SUPERIOR intelligence and have truly evolved. The rest are the same old dirty, nasty apes they have always been. The only difference is many of them hide behind a cloak of illusive evolution. They think because they know how to use technology, they have evolved.

      Reply
  4. David Sheen

    Rabbi Dov Lior is controversial – I identified him as right-wing even for religious nationalists – but he still draws multiple salaries from the state and, as reported in the Israeli mainstream media, he has been honored with a regional prize by multiple Israel government ministers and top army brass: http://www.nrg.co.il/online/1/ART2/256/318.html

    As far as the contention that the sign in Or Yehuda had no sexual connotation and that I mistranslated it, I post this link from the Israeli mainstream media which quotes a leader of a local feminist group who says that she is incensed by the misogyny in – not my translation – but the original Hebrew: http://www.holesinthenet.co.il/holesinthenet-media-story-38198

    Reply
    • Nurit Baytch

      Where did you say Dov Lior is “right-wing even for religious nationalists”? You stated: “While Lior is held in high regard, he is also associated with religious Zionism’s ‘conservative wing.’” This is highly misleading given that few, if any, Israelis who aren’t extremists hold him in high regard. And once again, you rely on your readers’ ignorance of Hebrew to misrepresent the truth. Here is a discussion in English of the event:
      http://972mag.com/ministers-and-general-honor-inciting-rabbi/17918/
      That article doesn’t say what you claim it says: it says Israeli government ministers and top army brass were scheduled to attend the ceremony, not that they were awarding the prize. And as you surely know, they all canceled their appearances:
      http://972mag.com/update-ministers-and-general-did-not-honor-lior/18102/
      Apparently even right-wing extremists like Eli Yishai don’t want to be associated with Dov Lior.

      Your 2nd link does not endorse your translation. The sign is misogynistic for the same reason the term “motherf***er” (a possible translation of the sign, as I mentioned above) is:
      http://books.google.com/books?id=QeOAAgAAQBAJ&pg=PA41&lpg=PA41
      Just as using the term “motherf***er” in English carries no implication of rape, neither does the sign.

      Reply
      • Greg Grummer

        mother***er carries no implication of rape? You seem to not understand how language works. If a person understands the term “mother” and understands the term “****er” the implication is there, whether one is conscious of it or not.

      • Nurit Baytch

        Not only does the term “motherf***er” carry no implication of rape, check the wiki entry for the word for info on how it’s used. It says: “Its literal sense means one who f***s his mother, although this usage is seldom implied. Rather, it refers to a mean, despicable, or vicious person…”

        Elizabeth Tsurkov, an Israeli humans rights activist, translates the sign as “Kill them motherf***ers”
        https://twitter.com/Elizrael/status/491646760901545985
        Note: It doesn’t literally say “kill,” though her translation is reasonable. One could arguably say it’s “Get those motherf***ers”

        Multiple Hebrew speakers on Twitter said Sheen’s translation is incorrect:
        https://twitter.com/tzanchan86/status/491718818893295616
        https://twitter.com/davidsheen/status/491662346490621952

    • Elon

      In old Hebrew, the sign would mean rape their mother, as you wrote. Or rather, have consensual sex with their mother. That was the meaning that jumped out at me before the modern day slang. The modern day slang of the entire phrase is “*$# them good”.

      Lior is held in high regard by some and vilified by many. He has always been insane, and Baruch Goldstein and Yigal Amir both reportedly went to him for advice.

      Reply
      • Nurit Baytch

        Do you mean Biblical Hebrew? “Mother” would be pluralized if the intended meaning was “pound their mothers.” David Sheen’s translation doesn’t make grammatical sense. Also, “their mother” is in quotation marks, clearly indicating that the slang meaning (colloquial modern Hebrew) is intended.

      • Elon

        Not Biblical, even 30-40 years ago. Using it to mean @#%& ‘em is new. In Rabbinic literature, it would mean marry their mother in the singular. And in non-slang hebrew consensual sex with the mother in singular.

  5. A J Khan

    World must stop State Terrorism of Israel. Security Council has become an ugly tool of injustice in the hands of bullies. For the time being its only purpose appears to be covering terrorism of Israel.
    To secure peace in Palestine & world at large I would suggest:
    1. UNO is held hostage by Security Council, which has tarnished its image & lost its purpose. Like league of Nations it should either perish of get liberated from the stranglehold of Security Council.
    2. International Sanctions should be placed on Israel to alter its inhuman conduct & behavior.
    3. Israeli leadership should be brought to justice for war crimes in ICC.

    Reply
  6. J. C. Salomon

    This would be more persuasive if you would include the statistics on how many Palestinian women are raped by Israeli soldiers. And if that number were not approximately zero.

    Reply
    • David Fox

      Have you read the Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine? Of course not.

      If you did, you would learn that David Ben-Gurion himself meticulously documented cases of rape of Palestinian women and girls by Israeli soldiers. There were many.

      This was just one of the few that actually went to trial:

      “On 12 August 1949, a platoon of soldiers in the Negev, based in Kabbutz Nirim not far from Beit Hanun, on the norther edge of today’s Gaza Strip, captured a 12-year-old Palestinian girl and locked her up for the night in their military base near the kibbutz. For the next few days she became the platoon’s sex slave as the soldiers shaved her head, gang-raped her, and in the end murdered her. Ben-Gurion lists this rape too in his diary . . . ”
      -The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, Ilan Pappe

      How much of this is still going on today? Probably as much as Israeli soldiers think they can get away with.

      Reply
      • J. C. Salomon

        I was not aware that “whatever seems plausible to me” was a valid sort of evidence. Is the most recent case you can find really from 65 years ago? There’s no shortage of human rights groups investigating Israel for wrongdoing—what are their statistics?

  7. scottrose

    Cherry-picking quotes from a nation’s inhabitants when the nation is under enemy rocket fire, and implying that the cherry-picked quotes are representative of the consensus opinion in the nation, is despicable. It’s like somebody claiming that what Michele Bachmann and Louis Gohmert say is how all Americans are.

    Reply
  8. Alex

    Jewish religion forbid rape and union with non jewish . All this are about wording and expression. Nobody is raped in Gaza. Just your propaganda.

    Reply

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