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Heb. U. Paper Finds: IDF Has Political Motives for Not Raping

Hebrew University committee prize-winning paper finds that the lack of IDF rapes of Palestinian women is designed to serve a political purpose.
By Hillel Fendel
First Publish: 12/23/2007, 5:01 PM

A research paper that won a Hebrew University teachers' committee prize finds that the lack of IDF rapes of Palestinian women is designed to serve a political purpose.

The abstract of the paper, authored by doctoral candidate Tal Nitzan, notes that the paper shows that "the lack of organized military rape is an alternate way of realizing [particular] political goals." 

The next sentence delineates the particular goals that are realized in this manner: "In the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it can be seen that the lack of military rape merely strengthens the ethnic boundaries and clarifies the inter-ethnic differences - just as organized military rape would have done."

The paper further theorizes that Arab women in Judea and Samaria are not raped by IDF soldiers because the women are de-humanized in the soldiers' eyes.

The paper was published by the Hebrew University's Shaine Center, based on the recommendation of a Hebrew University professors' committee headed by Dr. Zali Gurevitch.

"I do not have the entire text in front of me," Gurevitch said, when contacted by Arutz-7, "and I don't think we can jump to conclusions based on partial sentences, but I can say the following: This was a very serious paper that asked two important questions: Is the relative lack of IDF rapes a noteworthy phenomenon, and if so, why is it that there are so few IDF rapes when in similar situations around the world, rape is much more common?"

Observers and Academia
Arutz-7: "Can't it just be that Israeli soldiers come from a culture that very much condemns rape?  And why not mention the much-touted 'purity of arms,' i.e., the high moral conduct, of the Israeli Army?"

Gurevitch said that observers do not have the right to demand a particular explanation to a given phenomenon.  He said that the researcher had done a serious job, based on interviews with 25 soldiers and other accounts, and that the right-wing should not jump to the conclusion that this was simply another "secular, left-wing" generality.

Makor Rishon editor Amnon Lord, who first publicized the story, wrote that not only did researcher Nitzan not consider Jewish tradition as an explanation, but neither did she "raise the possibility that her initial assumption - namely, that the situation in Judea and Samaria is just like any other situation of conquest - may be wrong."

Demographic Fears
Nitzan's paper did, however, give much space to the explanation that the Israeli soldiers refrained from rape out of demographic considerations.  She explained at length how fearful the Jewish population is of the growing Arab population, and how in cases of wartime rape, the baby is generally assumed to be of the mother's nationality.

"It is noteworthy," Lord concludes, "that Palestinian propaganda around the world frequently accuses Israelis of murder and rape.  Such that this situation is unique: An army is found blameworthy of rape, and is also blameworthy of not raping."