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Hatim, King of the Natufians

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A college friend of mine has a crude sense of humor that belies his academic turn of mind. At one point he reached the rank of top expert on Abraham Lincoln’s economic policy. I still recall my pride at seeing him serving as personal guide to president George W. Bush around Gettysburg before both men slipped quietly into the historical background to the nation’s greatness. Not withstanding such prominence, my friend is capable of posting a story on his Facebook page straight out of our collage days over half a century ago. Please bear with me while I share it here to make a point: It speaks of a farmer who buys an especially fecund rooster to service his large flock of chickens. He advises the bird to take it easy. But the super stud proceeds to mount every hen on the farm including ducks, geese, turkeys and more. By sunset the farmer finds the rooster “dead as a doorknob” with vultures circling overhead. He utters some words of blame and the dead rooster opens one eye and winks conspiratorially at its owner begging him not to scare the tricked vultures away.

That all flashed across my mind as I read Gili Cohen’s first page article in Haaretz entitled “IDF general indicted for rape and indecent acts” about Brig. Gen. Ofek Buchris, a resident of neighboring Mitzpe Netoufa. Here are few relevant quotes from the investigative report:

He was charged with three counts of rape, one count of sodomy and six indecent acts against a lower-ranking female soldier, identified only by her first initial, A. He is also accused of six indecent acts against a female IDF officer identified as L.

Neither weather conditions nor the terrain seem to hamper our top rooster’s urges:

Buchris is alleged to have committed the offenses against the women at his office, in his military vehicle, at an army camp, in his living quarters and at several other locations.

The prosecution alleges that Buchris raped A. three times, beginning in April 2011, when she is said to have accompanied him to buy supplies for a weekend stay that he and his family had arranged at a bed-and-breakfast in the north.

It is alleged that on several occasions when A. reported directly to Buchris as a Golani brigade commander, he allegedly called her to his living quarters, undressed her and touched her against her will.

Mind you, all the infractions the prosecutors allege against our neighbor were presumably committed against fellow Jews. If true they were immoral acts. I would add that they were plain foolish as well. After all he could satisfy his urges without violating the accepted rules of the game. All through the many years of our general’s alleged repeated offenses Israel has been at war with the Palestinians. As such, and according to the fatwa issued by the IDF’s current chief Rabbi, “in time of war it is permissible for soldiers to have sex with comely gentile women against their will” to relieve the anguish of war. Besides, some Israeli academicians have advocated the practice as a weapon against Hamas in Gaza. So instead of wasting his energy (and precious seed, one may add) he could have served “our goal” of “the success of the whole at war” while satisfying his “evil urge.”

To be frank, I find Rabbi Eyal Karim’s ruling and Dr. Mordechai Keidars recommendation wicked; they reek of misogyny on two counts: First, the concept of rape as a weapon is repulsive and masochistic. Second, it is discriminatory. Woman serve in the IDF’s combat units despite Rabbi Karim’s express objection. How are they to satisfy their evil urges. Does the rape fatwa apply to them as well? And can we interpret the phrase “comely gentile women” to include comely gentile men? What are we to do about all the ‘uncomely’ enemy folk dying for intercourse with top generals of “the most moral army in the world?” This last thought calls forth an unending litany of worries: Given the weighing of options and of relative psychological pros and cons on each side of the inter-racial and intersexual dual finely balanced in each such case of battle sex, how do we know who would be raping whom? And what would the criteria for comeliness be? Would Ashkenazi or Mizrahi features be given higher marks? Our fighting cock himself may well not pass the selection threshold for participation in the official Sex Hunger Games.

Part of my anguish about the said report is the geographic location of the accused general’s residence; Mitzpe Netoufa is practically in my backyard. The basic concept of a Mitzpe—Hebrew for ‘lookout’—the hilltop-positioned barbed-wire-encircled Jewish-only settlement dreamt up by Ariel Sharon in the 1970s, possibly after battling it out with another comely enemy woman, is to protect the promised land of the Jews from potential ‘goy’ usurpers. Those ‘goys’ turn out actually to be us, the Palestinians who have been ‘squatting’ on the land since the Romans destroyed their second temple and eventually abandoned them to the whims of Christian and Moslem conquerors who have converted them out of Judaism while the Khazari ancestors of Sharon were welcomed into the Jewish faith. Be that as it may, the good general’s purpose in life and that of his fellow Mitzpe Netoufa religious Jewish residents, is to watch over me so I won’t steal my own Netoufa (Battouf) Valley Land. But mind you, I have already sinned against the folks: Let me quote from page 93 of my book of memoirs, A Doctor in Galilee (Pluto Press, 2008) about my father selling his land to put two brothers and me through high school in the city of Nazareth:

For a total of seven years he had to cover our not so negligible expenses. For that entire period he stood the shaming of and the social pressure brought on him by relatives and peers to change his ways and to refrain from selling his land to [put us through school.] By the time I graduated he had only one last piece of land in the Battouf Valley, the village’s fertile source of livelihood. Even that last piece he had to sell to pay for my ticket to travel to the States in pursuit of my own wacky dream [of studying medicine].

In recent years I attempted to re-own that specific last piece of my father’s land. Failing that, I managed to purchase another piece of farmland of equal size in the same vicinity from a fellow villager. With the help of another village friend who is a better farmer than us, my wife and I now enjoy summer vegetables from our little slice of the magic Battouf Valley, our community’s own Promised Land.  That is how we have become intruders on the sensitivities of the residents of Mitzpe Netoufa. Who knows but we may well be the descendants of those Natufians of old who invented agriculture in the first place. It is difficult to prove, I know. But no one is watching so I might as well lay claim to the conjuncture. It is no less valid than the priest Nadaff’s recent claim to being Aramaic is or the once popular slogan of “Sharon, King of Israel” was.

I am sure, our neighbor, THE GENERAL, spots us on occasion in our land from his watchtower whether through his binoculars or through the crosshairs of his automatic weapon. That is not scaring us off of our little piece of heaven. But in light of the man’s indictment “for rape and indecent acts,” and until he is proven innocent or is incarcerated, my wife and I will not be running around picking vegetables from our land in shorts.

Hatim Kanaaneh

Dr. Hatim Kanaaneh is a Palestinian doctor who has worked for over 35 years to bring medical care to Palestinians in Galilee, against a culture of anti-Arab discrimination. He is the author of the book A Doctor in Galilee: The Life and Struggle of a Palestinian in Israel. His collection of short stories entitled Chief Complaint was released by Just World Books in the spring of 2015.

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16 Responses

  1. DaBakr on July 26, 2016, 4:52 pm

    Okay. He’s a satirist. But people-especially the kind of people that jump all over certain Jewish pharmacists and accuse them of rabid islamaphobia- should stop repeating the bullshit story about the rabbi and his rape ‘fatwa’ as he never said anything of the sort and was referencing a portion of the bible.
    . So, unless you so very moral leftists have no problems with people referring to Mohammed(pboh) as an abuser of children and other things that. In 600 A.D. Might have made sense but don’t anymore you should shut it. The rabbi is orthodox. He’s not a reform, reconstructionalist, other bs rabbi. he reads scripture and interprets. Just like 1000s of imams do with their quran or priests do with the new tester mint.

    • DaBakr on July 26, 2016, 4:53 pm

      The tester mint is I case they have bad breath while studying the New testament

      • DaBakr on July 26, 2016, 7:31 pm

        and p.s.s.

        I was not trying to be a first poster. it just happened. i don’t care if the post is moved downstream at all.

    • Boo on July 27, 2016, 10:41 am

      It seems your answer must be contingent on Qarim’s clever shift to the past tense in the very last part of his exegesis, which begins in the present tense. That linguistic dodge fools nobody. If Torah “permitted” it — but now, of course, it’s forbidden — why did not the good rebbe emphasize the shift in interpretation and offer the rationale for it? Well of course, it’s because he doesn’t actually believe the interpretation has changed.

      As for your whataboutery, the issue isn’t about what happened in 600 CE but what’s considered acceptable behavior today — and specifically Buchris’s clearly unacceptable behavior. Let’s just speculate for the sake of discussion that perhaps it wasn’t forcible rape. Sex with subordinates isn’t acceptable in the military, business or academic worlds any more. It’s an abuse of authority, of the type so well illustrated by the story of David and Bathsheba.

    • Talkback on July 29, 2016, 2:37 am

      DaBakr: “… should stop repeating the bullshit story about the rabbi and his rape ‘fatwa’ as he never said anything of the sort and was referencing a portion of the bible.”

      That’s what he said:

      “The wars of Israel […] are mitzvah wars, in which they differ from the rest of the wars the nations wage among themselves. One of the important and critical values during war is maintaining the army’s fighting ability. As in war the prohibition against risking your life is broken for the benefit of others, so are the prohibitions against immorality and of kashrut…. war removes some of the prohibitions on sexual relations and even though fraternizing with a gentile woman is a very serious matter, it was permitted during wartime (under the specific terms) out of understanding for the hardship endured by the warriors. And since the success of the whole at war is our goal, the Torah permitted the individual to satisfy the evil urge under the conditions mentioned, for the purpose of the success of the whole.”

      One has to be a pathological liar to deny that he said that the raping of gentile woman is permitted in war times

      “So, unless you so very moral leftists have no problems with people referring to Mohammed(pboh) as an abuser of children and other things that. In 600 A.D.”

      DaBakr: Was it him who wrote: “A daughter, who is of the age of three years and one day, is, by being bedded with a Man, lawfully married.”? You know the answer, very immoral right extremist and hypocrit.

      • MHughes976 on August 1, 2016, 3:18 pm

        Unfair to Zionists! It’s not often I say this and not often that I disagree with Talkback, but in this case I have to.
        The Rsbbi is saying that in the bad old days, when women were awarded as prizes of war, a situation could arise whereby a Jewish warrior could end up legitimately married to a captive, non-Jewish woman. This was a divine concession to evil lusts. He is murdering his text, which has no reference to evil lusts or to the heat of battle. But if asked whether divine indulgence extends to rape in present circumstances, he answers No ‘of course the Torah doesn’t permit rape’. It may be asked how he knows this if he is so certain that divine indulgence exists, but he can at least say that the text has no current application, since prizes of war are no longer with us and Israeli soldiers don’t return from the checkpoints with trophy wives.
        Got to be fair to those Zionists.

      • echinococcus on August 1, 2016, 6:36 pm


        prizes of war are no longer with us and Israeli soldiers don’t return from the checkpoints with trophy wives.

        Prizes of war are very much with us, I mean at least with the Zionist soldiery –keeping and using wallets, credit cards, checks, cameras, you name it (ask the Mavi Marmara crew or the Tamimis.)
        One difference re the human trophies is that they don’t bother to carry the entire wife but sell her better portable and negotiable kidneys, corneas, etc. Or those of the sons or husbands… they aren’t sexist.

  2. Avigail on July 27, 2016, 8:51 am

    Hi Hatim! Well written piece as usual, thank you!

    I only have one quite important reservation as a woman and as a psychotherapist, and it is about the widespread use of word ‘misogyny’ in reference to the new Chief Rabbi’s permission to rape. Why not use the correct word here, which is in fact, ‘psychopath’?

    Misogyny is a basic given principle in the laws and tenets of orthodox Judaism, which no matter how nicely you try to paint it, sees women as inferior to men in a number of very important ways. This individual however, demonstrates a much bigger problem than misogyny. He is a full-fledged psychopath. His position goes far beyond misogyny. As a psychotherapist I could probably easily diagnose him with Anti-Social Personality disorder (aka psychopathy/sociopathy).

    What normal (meaning non-psychopathic) human being would even consider that rape of any woman during war or at any time is OK, let alone say it openly in public, except someone who completely lacks the capacity for empathy? Even if he thinks that there is some obscure archaic law in Judaism that says its OK to rape women during war, if he had empathy he would ignore it and definitely not refer to it in public and as a way of giving permission to abominable psychopathic behaviour.

    There are men who are afraid of women and men who outright hate women, i.e. misogynists, which is without doubt a huge problem, in the same way as hatred of any ‘other’ is a problem. But, and a big ‘but’ here:

    Fear of ‘otherness’ or of the ‘other’ is natural for mammals. However, it requires something extra to turn natural fear into not just hatred but an actual will or act to cause harm, or incite harm against a group. To cause or advocate harm requires *psychopathy*, which among other things, and maybe most importantly, means a permanent inability to experience empathy.

    Empathy can be temporarily impaired in everyone’s brain when we are triggered into extreme fear and feel under threat. But when we call it is a personality disorder when it is permanent. Only empathy can mitigate any impulse anyone might have to hate someone and wish them to be harmed or to disappear.

  3. MHughes976 on July 28, 2016, 11:11 am

    Since the Deuteronomy passage comes up again, I’ll mention something which may throw some light on its origins. For my birthday (thanks for kind words about that!) I was given a somewhat fun book, if you enjoy that sort of thing, called ‘Finding myth and history in the Bible’ edited by Jim West. There’s an article by Pierre Nodet discussing the reports, somewhat garbled, that there were accusations against the Hasmonean High Priestly house, c. 100 BCE, that it carried the blood of captive women in its veins, though I think they may have been captive in some rather technical sense – members of families allegedly converted to Judaism amid the violence of the 100s. The biblical text was still open to editing and High Priests were in a good position to influence the Jerusalem University Press of the time. Thus they drew some of the sting by making marriages to captive women perfectly legitimate. The passage in fact lacks the annihilationism seemingly found in much of the surrounding text. The later references to heat of battle and evil lusts are foreign bodies. High Priests would not go rampaging around battle zones seizing Palestinian women from vegetable gardens, indulging evil lusts and then making a son by this process the next High Priest.
    The Palestinians have of course been legitimate inhabitants of Palestine not just since Roman times but since about 1200 BCE by the archaeological record and many centuries earlier by the Biblical record, Genesis 20 – 21.

    • jon s on July 28, 2016, 1:19 pm

      I’m puzzled as to whether you’re referring to the story of Hagar and Yishmael or to the mention of the “land of the Philistines”, or both, in Genesis 20-21.

      • MHughes976 on July 28, 2016, 4:20 pm

        Abraham, Abimelech, Phichol etc..

      • Mooser on July 28, 2016, 4:46 pm

        “I’m puzzled as to whether…”

        Here, this should clear up your confusion.

      • jon s on July 31, 2016, 6:25 am

        Sorry, I still don’t get the connection.
        Abimelekh, King of Gerar?
        Phicol, his general?

        Incidentally, the reference to “land of the Philistines” in connection with Abraham is an anachronism. In the period attributed to Abraham, the Philistines had yet to appear on the scene.

      • MHughes976 on July 31, 2016, 8:39 am

        To my mind, for what it”s worth, the natural reading of the passage is that the region of Gerar is inhabited by ‘Philistines’ whose King is Abimelech who has various dealings with Abraham from which he emerges as a fairly nice guy. Such is the story., part of the biblical record, not confirmed by archaeology,, as I mentioned, but in its way intriguing. Few commentators think it’s true, though the Eerdmans Commentary entertains the idea of an early migration of Luwians, who you could regard as Philistines if you made a bit of an effort.. It’s highly characteristic of the author of Genesis that he tries to reconcile very different traditions, in this case anthropological ones, with each other – and we can certainly see other traditions about the Philistines. But this tradition, whereby they arrive early and are quite nice, is one (I don’t say the one) that he chose, for theological and political reasons that seemed good to him, to preserve. I understand that there is about to be a new edition, no doubt highly necessary, of the International Critical Commentary on Genesis, which might give us an up to date perspective.

  4. Ossinev on July 29, 2016, 7:45 am

    I think the saintly(sic) Rabbi should be called to task by his most moral generals , inc the Buchris rooster, for not clarifying whether the rape “fatwa” applies to one to one evil urge satisfactions or whether it applies equally to the whole tank crew (viz gang). Perhaps he should be given some further TST (Torah Study Time) in order to clear this up.

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