Opinion

Writing about what should be done to girls in the dark is incitement to sexual assault — Shany Littman to Ben Caspit

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Below is my translation of a 7-minute debate between Israeli writers about the case of 16-year-old Ahed Tamimi slapping an occupying soldier in Nabi Saleh on December 15. The debate took place on the Maariv-owned Radio 103 FM two days ago (Hebrew).

Ben Caspit, the journalist who suggested that “in the case of the [Tamimi] girls, we should exact a price at some other opportunity, in the dark, without witnesses and cameras” last week, is debating with Shany Littman, who wrote an article in response (Haaretz, Hebrew) titled “Did Ben Caspit’s hand tremble when he wrote these lines”. 

The debate occurs on Caspit’s own turf – Maariv, in more than one sense. The moderator, rightwing politician Arye Eldad, is squarely on Caspit’s side and repeatedly interjects against Littman, who is actually being grilled by the two for daring to suggest that Caspit’s words may have had sexual connotations. Caspit activates what is known as ‘gaslighting’, saying to her that she [and everyone who had the same connotation] is a sexual pervert herself, and that she has a “dirty mind”. When Littman says that “I want that the state of Israel act in a fair and just manner, and that it doesn’t attempt, as was hinted in this article, to hide its actions,” Caspit answers “It’s a bit sick, what you are suggesting, I swear to you.”

Both Caspit and Eldad are bewildered that Littman mentions the occupation. Eldad interjects: “Where occupation? What’s the occupation? How did we get to the occupation?” Caspit says that “it’s not at all the subject, don’t talk to me now about the occupation,” Eldad says “I don’t understand how we got to the occupation,” and Caspit concludes, “Arye, there’s no occupation”.

Eldad ends the debate reaffirming: “By the way – there’s no occupation,” to which Caspit answers: “There’s no occupation”.

Caspit, the supposed center-leftist, furthermore refers in passing to the occupation as the “so-called occupation”, echoing US Ambassador David Friedman (a supporter of illegal settlements) who spoke of an “alleged occupation” four months ago, and who has more recently asked diplomats to stop using the word ‘occupation’, following an Israeli Hasbara attempt to erase the term from discourse and public awareness, as I reported last year. Caspit and Eldad’s line follows this trend, of blurring or eliminating the overall paradigm of military occupation which Littman seeks to address.

The rest of it speaks for itself, and requires no further comment.

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Debate: ”Ben Caspit VS Haaretz article” – radio 103 FM.Maariv.co.il, 28th December 2017

Ben Caspit, Shany Littman, hosted by Arye Eldad

Caspit: I’m sorry to be promoting this, but a couple of hours ago, an article from your hand went up, where you ask, “did the hand of Ben Caspit tremble when he wrote these lines”, referring to one of my sentences in an article which I wrote in Maariv 8 days ago apropos Ahed Tamimi… What, for God’s sake, did you mean?

Littman: I thought that you wanted to answer me about the question which was posed towards you in the article, whether your hand trembled…

Eldad: (Interjects) By the way, I, as a doctor, saw him writing – it didn’t tremble.

Caspit: You didn’t see me!

Littman: So everything was stable, ok…

Caspit: Arye Eldad is a liar. This article was written in the night, I believe, in Maariv…

Eldad: But you also spoke about this. There came a policeman that we had at the opening of the program, and you said the same things…

Caspit: Yes, if Mrs. Littman would bother to call a colleague before she defames him, she would have gotten the links that I had sent to her colleague, and would realize that she has written nonsense. But I have not come up here in order to explain myself – you are the one being interviewed.

Littman: You [in plural] invited…you [singular] wanted to speak with me…

Caspit: Right, so I am asking what is the meaning of “did my hand tremble”?

Littman: So, I wondered, you know, when I read a sentence such as “in the case of the girls, the price should be exacted in another opportunity, in the dark, where there are no witnesses and cameras”, to me, you know, it makes me shiver within. I think it’s a horrible sentence, and the thickness of the words “girls”, “in the dark”, “without witnesses and cameras” is something that causes me to shiver. It hints of a very frightening violence.

Eldad: Maybe I want to explain something here. There was a discussion between Ben and me… [turns to Caspit] I don’t believe that I am defending you!

Caspit: No, it’s not good for me if you defend me!

Eldad: There was a discussion between Ben and me. I said ‘this event should not have ended without this girl having been handcuffed inside the patrol vehicle’. And he said ‘No way, to do this in front of the cameras, and cause damage – for what? – Arrests are done at night!’

Caspit: Shany, I’ll tell you why I think your article is…

Littman: I am not sure that I disagree with what Arye Eldad just said, and I think that it may be…you know, if the soldiers are already there, and the whole world sees that they are there (I don’t think they should be there, but that’s another question), if the confrontation occurs in daylight, why pass the confrontation over to dark basements?

Caspit: What dark basements? Shany, what you have done, again, if you had made a call, as is customary in our profession…

Littman: But you published an article! You didn’t write this between us, this was not a secret exchange between you and me, right?

Caspit: But the fact is that the article was published on Monday, and during the whole week that passed nobody bothered to do anything with it, until they started defaming me abroad, all kinds of BDS [Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions] people, and New Israel Fund and the like, and I’m saying, Now, Shany, now [comes] my defense statement.

Littman: OK.

Caspit: The whole article [Caspit’s], its whole narrative is super-leftist, you couldn’t write it better (or maybe you could). ‘The power of restraint’, that is the headline. And there I write a lot, until one arrives at that sentence that you refer to, that it was wrong…that one should have given a medal of honor to the officer who restrained himself… that any attempt to stop her in front of cameras, where everyone there is making provocations and screaming, would have ended badly… I go from there to Gaza, and I say that in Gaza it’s the same situation – that because of nonsense we could be pulled into a war that no one knows how you get out of – and that’s my narrative, and my meaning with “in the dark” was that the arrest has to be (and I know, I’ve done reserve duty in my life, I’ve done [military] service, also as a journalist) – IDF comes at night, with policewomen rather than policemen because she’s a woman (or girl), [and] arrests her quietly. Now, where can I prove to you beyond a shadow of a doubt that this was my meaning? Because the next day the sun came up, and there was a program here, the day the article was published, and in the meanwhile she was arrested in the night. On the whole program, I am praising what happened, including a bad policeman…

Littman: But what did we gain, what did we gain from her being arrested? Let’s put aside the violent situations you described…

Eldad: [interjects] That all of the Israel-haters have apparently not reached their [point of] satisfaction.

Littman: What did we gain from her being arrested in the night and not the day? So, what– no one knows she got arrested? No one knows that there’s an occupation, that she has soldiers in her backyard?

Eldad: [interjecting] Where occupation? What’s the occupation? How did we get to the occupation?

Littman: [continues] How does this help Israel’s image, or the case itself?

Caspit: But it’s not at all the subject. Don’t talk to me now about the occupation…

Littman: But you speak about Hasbara. You use words of Hasbara.

Caspit: No, no, no, no, I’m not, I’m not speaking…the occupation now…

Eldad: I don’t understand how we got to the occupation.

Caspit: Arye, there’s no occupation, I’m sorry…

Littman: Yes, it’s really interesting: how did we actually get to the occupation?

Caspit: Shany, listen, you’re trying to incite. The occupation is not the subject. I did not write an article about the occupation. You know my position regarding the ‘so-called’ ‘occupation’. I’m somewhere in the center, I’m dying to get rid of the [occupied] territories, if I [only] had someone to give them to with the knowing that there would then be peace and that everything will be OK…. I wrote the article against the television broadcasts of Monday, and there was the dilemma – no one was in doubt, besides a few folks in Haaretz, that whoever slaps an officer, has to be arrested and questioned.

Littman: So let her be arrested and questioned the moment she does it. Why not arrest her the moment she slaps him?

Caspit: No, because her mother was there, her sister was there, and another 30 guys are waiting for a provocation, cameras would have been pulled out, the soldiers would have been beaten, they would give beatings, we don’t know who might be killed, what shaming would have come out of that, how would that have looked?

Eldad: [overdubbing Littman who tries to answer] But that’s what Shany Littman wants.

Caspit: [joining Eldad’s overdubbing] It’s apparently what she wants.

Littman: But I’m asking…

Eldad: [interjecting]: You want the State of Israel to be defamed down to dust…

Littman: No, I want that the state of Israel…

Eldad: [overdubs] in order to prove that we are occupiers.

Littman: I want that the state of Israel act in a fair and just manner, and that it doesn’t attempt, as was hinted in this article, to hide its actions in ways…

Caspit: It’s a bit sick, what you are suggesting, I swear to you. What is “to try to hide”? I was…I was speaking about a practical matter. No one is in doubt, really, except the extreme left, that whoever slaps an officer has to be arrested. The question is whether you do it…

Littman: OK, but they didn’t arrest her at the point.

Caspit: No, the military makes arrests each night. I thought that it’s necessary to let the situation against the camera to calm down, to let everyone calm down, and then to decide if one wants to arrest, to come in the night, with policewomen (there were no policewomen there), to do it in a way that would not cause violence, that’s all. You and your friends have turned me into a sexual pervert, to someone who speaks about the rape of girls, and I think that you are mentally ill and that you are sexual perverts…

Littman: OK…

Caspit: If you can at all come to conceive a sexual connotation regarding that sentence, and sever it from everything that was [written] before and after. End of defense statement.

Littman: OK, if that’s how you see it…

Caspit: It’s not [just] how I see it, I can prove it. Listen to the program the day after and you’ll understand it.

Littman: I think that as a journalist, as a person who is sensitive to words, as a person whose profession is words, I think you could have…this is what I wrote, and this is what I meant to say, that I think you could have weighed your words better.

Caspit: Mrs. Littman, you mentioned also the sexual connotation…

Littman: True, true…

Caspit: Apparently it is you who has a dirty mind, not me…

Littman: So, it’s possible I have a dirty mind…

Caspit: Apparently so.

Littman: I think I was not the only one who read it so.

Eldad: [interjecting] No, she doesn’t have a dirty mind, she knows that defamation, that a claim of sexual harassment nowadays works, passes anywhere. You can sell anything with sexual harassment.

Caspit: [commenting under Eldad’s words] Yes, I have preached for the rape of Ahed Tamimi…

Littman: I think we have reached a stage, where one needs to be more sensitive also to that. When you speak about girls and about things that need to be done to them in the dark, it’s not something that should just pass without comment.

Caspit: But, but… [if] you would phone me, and clarify this with me…only if I was a Palestinian! But it’s Ben Caspit, so you’re not sensitive. But my time is up, I have to go to this…Thank you for speaking with us.

Eldad: Many thanks!

Littman: Thank you, it was fun.

Eldad: Many thanks. By the way – there’s no occupation.

Caspit: There’s no occupation.

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I have referred to both articles in my second installment on Caspit. It appears that Haaretz has taken down Littman’s article. I have written to Haaretz editorial earlier today in request of clarification this morning, and have received response from chief editor Aluf Benn, that “a slightly updated version of Littman’s article will be online soon”. At the point of publishing the article has come up again. 

H/T Ofer Neiman

 

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She should have slapped both of them for insulting her intelligence. #me too

Caspit and Eldad make a fine pair of dirtbags. Or maybe sleazeballs.

“in the case of the [Tamimi] girls, we should exact a price at some other opportunity, in the dark, without witnesses and cameras” The old adage “if it looks like duck etc” applies here. This sort of comment in a civilised Western society would find the author being investigated for… Read more »

There’s no occupation; then what were the soldiers doing at her house? If someone threw stones previously, what were they throwing at–if there’s no occupation? And why did the boy get shot, her relative? What were they doing in her yard?

Does Caspit have any daughters?

I guess maybe a better question is, would it matter?

Or maybe he does and this is just an unguarded glimpse into the dark netherworld of Caspit family discipline.