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Judgment Day for Israel’s Legal System

Jewish Power party leader Itamar Ben-Gvir speaks following the announcement of exit polls in Israel’s general election, at his party headquarters in Jerusalem November 2, 2022. REUTERS/Corinna Kern – Nationwide outrage over the light sentence meted out by the Beersheva Juvenile Court last Wednesday to a Bedouin who sodomized a little girl two years ago sheds light on why the right garnered a clear victory on Nov. 1.

As the 25th Knesset is sworn in today (Tuesday), with coalition negotiations in full swing, the above heinous crime and measly punishment can help explain the election results. Chattering-class hysteria notwithstanding, the probability that Religious Zionist Party member Itamar Ben-Gvir will be given the public-security portfolio he’s been demanding is actually a relief to much of the public.

Ben-Gvir is by no means the only figure who’s been bemoaning the loss of Israeli governance in the Negev, which, despite being located in the south of the country, is often referred to as the “Wild West.” But his shouts about and proposed remedies for restoring law and order in that and other key areas have resonated far and wide; as has the rape case in question.

The horror story took place on a Friday night, after the child and her family had finished their Shabbat meal and gone to sleep. Three young men—two of them aged 17, and the third, who waited outside in a getaway car, past his 18th birthday—approached the house.

The “teenagers” had already burgled other residences, so they must have been feeling pretty confident when they entered this one. All their scrounging produced, however, was 50 shekels ($14.50) and a few toys.

But then they came upon the room of the victim and her three brothers. While one held a flashlight, the other climbed onto the bed of the 10-year-old girl and violated her anally.

Her screams alerted her parents, but also sent the rapist and his accomplice running. The incident, naturally, traumatized the child and her distraught mother and father. The latter would later wail that if he had managed to catch the perpetrators and shoot them, he would have been the one under indictment.

For the following 24 months, the rapist—who not only didn’t express remorse, but smiled smugly during his trial—was held in a youth facility, where he received (you guessed it!) therapy. Even progressives haven’t been able to stomach his having been treated as a minor, given the gravity of his very adult evil deed.

The travesty of the now 19-year-old pedophile’s ridiculous sentence—five years in jail, with the possibility of parole, and a 70,000-shekel ($20,400) fine—elicited such an outcry that Beersheva District Court Justice Yael Raz-Levi, who led the three-judge panel that convicted him, has been provided a security detail.

It’s precisely the kind of protection that the little girl, her neighbors in the Negev and the rest of the population wish they were fortunate enough to have. As Beersheva Mayor Rubik Danilovich told Channel 12 on Wednesday, “The State of Israel lost its way. These lax sentences only invite more and more disturbing incidents … [T]his is how a society disintegrates.”

All that’s necessary to grasp the depth of the depravity and reverse discrimination of the ruling is a review of Raz-Levi’s reasons for the decision. It’s particularly incomprehensible in view of the panel’s acknowledgement that a “severe and deterrent punishment of actual imprisonment behind bars” is in order.

The rationalization for the leniency, reads, in part: “One cannot ignore considerations, such as the defendant’s rehabilitation, reported by his probation officers, as a result of his persistence in a lengthy treatment process, despite rough conditions and a long stay … in a locked residence with almost no vacations.” Boo-hoo.

The judges further point to the “progress he’s made in his understanding and internalizing of the seriousness of the offenses he committed, and in his taking of responsibility for his actions, even if it is relatively slow progress.” [Emphasis added.]

Weight should also be given, they claim in true liberal fashion, to the defendant’s “personal circumstances” and “difficult family relationships.”

Adding insult to the lifelong injury caused by this predator—who wouldn’t have dared rape a Bedouin, let alone a prepubescent one, for justified fear of being slaughtered—the Defense Ministry rejected the request of the victim’s family to be recognized as targets of anti-Jewish terrorism. Their lawyer’s appeal against that decision was heard on Monday at the Tel Aviv District Court.

Whatever the outcome, the entire episode, from start to finish, is a microcosm of the erosion of a system in desperate need of overhaul. Rectifying this situation is among the main projects that the new “full, full, right-wing” government was chosen to undertake.

Ruthie Blum is an Israel-based journalist and author of “To Hell in a Handbasket: Carter, Obama, and the ‘Arab Spring.’ ”


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