Right From Wrong: Sex, lies and videotape

After nearly two weeks in police custody, the remaining seven suspects in what was originally believed to be the gang rape of a 19-year-old British tourist in Ayia Napa landed at Ben-Gurion Airport.

A British tourist covers her face as she is escorted to a police car outside the Famagusta courthouse in Paralimni, Cyprus, July 29 (photo credit: YIANNIS KOURTOGLOU/REUTERS)
A British tourist covers her face as she is escorted to a police car outside the Famagusta courthouse in Paralimni, Cyprus, July 29
Nothing better illustrates the perils of prematurely debating a criminal case in the context of social politics than the recent arrest of a bunch of Israeli teenagers in Cyprus.
On Monday evening, after nearly two weeks in police custody, the remaining seven suspects in what was originally believed to be the gang rape of a 19-year-old British tourist in Ayia Napa landed at Ben-Gurion Airport. The other five were released a few days earlier.
Upon their arrival in Israel, the boys – aged 15 to 18 – were greeted by tearful family members and cheering friends.
The kids’ parents, who had believed in their sons’ innocence all along, felt vindicated. For days on end, the Israeli media and punditry had been portraying the teenagers as predators who had preyed upon a young woman whose only mistake was to trust in the three with whom she had consensual physical relations.
Before all the facts of the case were known or revealed, the accused were convicted in the court of public opinion. According to initial reports, the victim recounted meeting two Israelis – one who spoke no English, and the other who served as a translator for their flirtation – and admitted to going to bed with both of them, as a well as with a third friend of theirs. She claimed that things went awry when she set up a date with them one night, and they showed up with a slew of additional guys in tow. It was then, she said, that they all took turns raping her.
HER STORY sounded plausible for a number of reasons.
First of all, she acknowledged having had consensual sex with at least three people whom she barely knew, giving credibility to her claims of subsequent violent gang rape.
Second, she appeared to witnesses at the hotel in Ayia Napa where the alleged crime took place to be in a traumatized state.
Third, Israelis who had been to that particular resort town in Cyprus and similar venues in neighboring Mediterranean countries believed it immediately. Some pointed out that “getting drunk, stoned and laid” with no parental restrictions is the whole purpose of such high-school summer vacations and pre-army trips. And that many rowdy, intoxicated males away from home – particularly in a place filled with equally unchaperoned female peers in various states of poolside undress – are perfectly capable of losing control and crossing redlines.
Fourth, the idea – even among those of us willing to give the boys the benefit of being innocent until proven guilty – was that only a young woman with severely low self-esteem would agree to have sex with a dozen strange men simultaneously, and therefore, the extent of her “consent” was questionable at best.
Finally, being as much a Western country as a Middle Eastern one, Israel is home to a robust #MeToo movement, which demands that women be treated as equal to men, on one hand, and as unwitting victims to men’s bad sexual behavior, on the other. Which is why Channel 12’s military commentator, Roni Daniel, caused a major uproar when he mocked the alleged rape victim during a radio discussion about the goings-on in Ayia Napa.
“Oh,” he said, his stupidity outweighing his insensitivity, “she was used to two or three [sex partners], and all of a sudden, 12 is her breaking point?”
IT WAS NOT surprising, then, that public sentiment shifted very little when the truth came to light, and the young Brit confessed to Cypriot investigators that she had made the whole thing up – not about having had sex with some Israeli boys, but about having been raped by them. Her initial explanation was that she had been humiliated by one of the guys, who kicked her out of his room. Then, two friends she encountered in the lobby saw her distress and told her to file a complaint with the police.
Her final version of events, after DNA and other evidence was presented to her, was that though she had engaged in the sexual activity willingly, she had not agreed to be filmed. She said that she was furious to discover that one or more of the boys had videotaped her in the act and shared it on social media. In Cyprus, as in Israel, circulating such a clip without a participant’s consent is a criminal offense.
Nevertheless, the Cypriot police promptly arrested the girl, who was indicted on Tuesday on charges of creating a public nuisance. She had forced the department to waste valuable resources on a wild goose chase, after all. According to her lawyer, she faces up to a year in prison and a fine for “misleading authorities.”
Meanwhile, the boys and their parents say that they intend to sue her for all the days they spent in jail unnecessarily.
Still, the fact that the boys were absolved of rape charges did not exempt them from societal scorn. Especially since they reacted to their newfound freedom by calling the victim-turned-perpetrator a “British whore,” while dancing and prancing around, half of them wearing kippot, and chanting about divine retribution.
It was a nauseating display of what a Jerusalem Post editorial referred to as the teens’ and their families’ “cavalier attitude,” which “should be disturbing for us all.”
The editorial went on to say that instead of giving the boys a “hero’s welcome... there should be remorse and reflection over the depths to which Israeli society has plummeted, where it’s seen as perfectly normal behavior – spurred by this alarming era of widespread, easy-access online pornography – for several friends to share a sexual partner, film the proceedings and then share the videos with others.”
Breast-beating is a national pastime in Israel, with every distasteful or worrisome phenomenon viewed as a sign that the Jewish state is “plummeting” in some way, rather than evidence that it is prone to the same societal ills as all free countries. You know, those not run by dictators who control access to the Internet or throw people in jail for offenses real and imagined.
Take Britain, for example. The girl at the heart of this tale of woe in Cyprus was just as responsible for her promiscuity as the boys with whom she had sex. And she is just as exposed to pornography and social-media exhibitionism as they. In other words, all the teenagers involved – each born in the second millennium – have been raised in an atmosphere of permissiveness without the old-fashioned rules that used to govern the often-fraught relations between men and women.
How can boys be instructed to curb their basest instincts while being told that there is no such thing as human nature? How can girls be warned not to place themselves in precarious situations when they are taught that their sexual needs and ability to compete on every playing field are on a par with those of men? How can any of them not be completely confused?
Which brings us to a broader problem: the increasingly widespread belief that victimhood is preferable to the taking of personal responsibility.
When interviewed, one of the boys said that he will never have sex again without written consent from a potential partner. Another announced that he would not visit Ayia Napa anytime in the near future. And the British tourist excused herself for having lodged false rape accusations because she hadn’t wanted to be filmed.
In other words, the one thing that none of the young people involved did was accept his or her own part.
Had the press waited before weighing in on this sorry affair, there might have been room for a more honest discussion about why today’s youth are so ill-equipped to deal with sexuality. But, just as the pursuit of clickbait prevents journalists from pausing before publishing half-baked items, political correctness does not allow for genuine reckoning.