Judge Nissim Yeshaya 370.
(photo credit: Courtesy Tel Aviv District Court)
As with most anything in our existence, politically correct outrage can be both constructive and destructive. Indignation channeled against those who inordinately offend broadly approved precepts can do good. Conversely, excessive p.c. fervor can do great harm.
Tel Aviv District Court Judge Nissim Yeshaya certainly run afoul of political correctness when he opined in open court that “some girls enjoy being raped.”
The context only exacerbated the affront. Yeshaya spouted his comment during a review of a ruling on the gang rape six years ago of a 13-year-old Jewish girl by four Arabs from Shuafat. The victim appealed an earlier decision not to recognize the attack as terrorist-oriented.
Yeshaya immediately found himself in a furious maelstrom.
The fire he drew was indisputably warranted. What he expressed was sexism of the most benighted sort, from the same infamous repository which insinuates that rape victims “asked for it.”
This is the line of pornography-empowered sadists who downplay or altogether discount women’s protestations.
Since we expect our judiciary to protect victims of violence rather than mock them, the chauvinism displayed by Yeshaya could well undermine trust in the system and dissuade victims of sexual assault from making complaints and going to court – processes that are anyway traumatizing.
It is a badge of honor for our society that Yeshaya was left little option but to speedily resign. The zero-tolerance of our shared political correctness was right on.
The reverse is true of reactions to the shooting spree at the Bar Noar gay youth center in Tel Aviv four years ago.
The bloodshed became an instantaneous pretext for accusations that ours is a society afflicted with extreme homophobia and bigotry. This turned into a politically correct cause célèbre.
The police investigation was almost beside the point. It is hard to escape the impression that its findings now are near-unwelcome because they spoil the spin.
But this should not be so. Every bit as much as homophobia deserves to be rejected and condemned by all fairminded folks, so do expedient agendas promoted to cast collective aspersions on society in general, and – all the more so – on specific vulnerable or unpopular segments within it.
Tarring entire groups or communities with one censorious brush in itself becomes an act of gross bigotry – even if it is bigotry in reverse and even if the maligners regard themselves as targets of intolerance. A grievance does not justify retaliatory prejudice, especially for trumped-up sins.
The 2009 murders took place in Tel Aviv, but far from being the hotbed of anti-gay bias, Tel Aviv is one of the most liberal and easygoing cities anywhere.
Last year, Tel Aviv was named the Best Gay City in an international American Airlines competition selecting the most popular destinations among LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) tourists. Moreover, the Israeli metropolis landed a staggering 43 percent of the vote, leaving the runner-up, New York City, far behind with only 14%. Toronto placed third with a mere 7%.
Last week’s 20th annual Gay Pride Parade in Tel Aviv, which was awash with the rainbow flags, attracted multitudes – mostly out-and-out straights.
Although Israel is often a battleground between Jewish Orthodoxy and secularism, it can nevertheless be counted among the world’s most progressive states. Homosexuals are openly active on our political scene and in the IDF. Our courts have underwritten a variety of family rights such as inheritance and survivors’ benefits for homosexuals.
But worst was the instantaneous and persistent assertion that the Bar Noar homicides were perpetrated by haredim or so-called right-wing fanatics/settlers. It was a stereotyping fest. Reports abounded of “suspicious characters” fleeing in the garb typical of their assumed affiliation.
Former interior minister Eli Yishai was said to have “blood on his hands.”
There is nothing self-evidently defensible in the alacrity to toss mud indiscriminately at entire sectors of the population.
When this alacrity is then treated as the de rigueur politically correct consensus, it becomes as unacceptable as any other display of discrimination.
Inequity is inequity. Projecting given individuals’ culpability onto a whole community is patently unjust under any circumstances.