25 August 2023
This summer, as the opposition boycotted Knesset action which undid the reasonableness doctrine in Israeli law, the ruling coalition snuck through another piece of legislation, on a vote of 39-7, increasing penalties for sexual assault when committed for nationalist or racist motivations.
Previously, in debate about the bill, opposition Knesset members had asked the police to document statistics about such crimes but the police had none, suggesting the law was not about addressing a real problem but about something else.
Not that sexual assault is not a problem in Israel. Unfortunately, it is, but the current coalition has been an obstacle to real reforms that might address that issue such as prioritizing investigations, increasing police protection, and improving the monitoring of convicted offenders.
What, then, is the motive for the July Knesset action on sexual assault penalties.
It seems that the real motivation is to press a dangerously false message that Palestinian nationalists and Israeli-Palestinian civil rights advocates are sexual predators. It seems also a prelude to criminalizing Jewish-Arab social contact and advancing segregation of Israel’s non-Jewish minorities.
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