On Monday, December 25, Israeli courts extended the detention of sixteen-year-old Palestinian activist Ahed Tamimi. Last week, Israeli forces arrested Ahed, her twenty-one-year-old cousin Nour, and several other family members after a video went viral depicting Ahed and Nour defying Israeli soldiers.
Many throughout Israeli society have advocated for the detained Tamimi women to be harshly punished. For example, Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett declared, according to 972 magazine, that the two youths “should spend their lives in prison.” One of the most horrific proposals, however, came from prominent Israeli journalist Ben Caspit, who on December 19 argued in the Israeli newspaper Maariv that “In the case of the girls, we should exact a price at some other opportunity, in the dark, without witnesses and cameras.”
While Caspit did not fully explain what this suggested “price” would involve, it seems safe to assume that Caspit is advocating for the most abhorrent punishments for the young Tamimi women, like torture, beating, or rape.
It should go without saying that publicly suggesting, however obliquely, for violence, sexual or otherwise, against anyone is unconscionable. Those who use their public platforms to advocate for such horrific acts should lose that platform. Ben Caspit is no exception. Al-Monitor and other media outlets that frequently publish Caspit’s views on Israeli and Palestinian affairs should immediately cut off all ties with him.
Al-Monitor prides itself on publishing “the most trusted, independent authors from across the globe.” Caspit has forsaken that trust. His statements about the Tamimi women are unacceptable and undeserving of Al-Monitor’s dedication “to provid[ing] our writers with the freedom they need to express their opinions however they choose.”
On December 25, Caspit defended himself and his comments in the Jerusalem Post, arguing that he was the victim of a “shaming campaign.” Caspit maintains that the phrase was taken out of context, inaccurately translated, and wrongly maligned. He states (in English) that his original argument was “to get our pay-back later, in the dark, with no witnesses and no cameras. In other words, to carry out the girl’s arrest without having it turn into another shaming video that would go viral on social media.”
Caspit’s claim that his comment was mistranslated does not hold up, as his own English description is more-or-less identical to the translated statement. As professional translator Ofer Neiman told Muftah, the original English translation was correct and Caspit is just backpedaling to save face.
If we take Caspit at his word and adopt the most benevolent interpretation of his comments, he is still advocating for the detention and undisclosed punishment of young women, out of sight of human rights monitors and the international community. Even with this generous interpretation, Caspit is promoting cruel and illegal acts.
Al-Monitor, the Jerusalem Post, Maariv, and the rest of Caspit’s patrons must drop him from their platforms. Failing to do so would signify that Caspit’s views deserve to be part of the public conversation. As Israel continues to detain, prosecute, and torture hundreds of Palestinian children annually, it is unconscionable for these platforms to publish someone who advocates for unspeakable acts of violence against these young people.