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The Israeli who had to prove he’s guilty of beating a Palestinian, and the Palestinian who had to prove he’s innocent of raping a Jewish girl

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This week, two parallel, yet unrelated, stories in Israel had two different endings which mirrored each other:

1)     On Tuesday, the Israeli Military Advocate-General Maj. Gen. Sharon Afek, announced the retraction of an indictment against Palestinian Mahmoud Qatusa for the rape of a seven-year-old Jewish child at a settlement where he works as a maintenance supervisor.

2)     On Sunday, the Israeli State Prosecutor’s office admitted that Dean Issacharoff from the Israeli military whistleblower organization Breaking the Silence, had possibly beaten a Palestinian as he had claimed back in 2017, and that the state’s attempts to prove his testimony false were possibly built on a testimony of a wrong Palestinian. 

Already these descriptions demand certain mental gymnastics. Because this is Kafkaesque. To simplify it, let me try this: Palestinians belong to a group which is generally assumed guilty, Israeli Jews belong to a group which is assumed innocent – and both had to fight those assumptions.

Let’s look in more detail into what the cases involve:

In the first case of alleged rape, Mahmoud Qatusa was working as a supervisor of 80 other Palestinians, who work for a cleaning company in a Jewish ultra-orthodox West Bank settlement, at the Mateh Binyamin regional school. On May 1st, he was arrested for the alleged rape of a 7-year old Jewish girl of the school in which he works. After being held in custody for over one and a half months, the police finally charged him with rape. But the indictment was full of holes. The police found no DNA trace of the girl in his house in the village of Deir Qadis. Qatusa even had an alibi which was being provided by Jewish residents of the settlement, which the police later verified. After that, the police changed the alleged place and time of the incident – from Qatusa’s own home to an apartment in the settlement, and from the specific time to a general time slot of two months, between February and April. The police also failed to run DNA tests on evidence forensic evidence that was said to have been found on scene – the girl’s underwear.

Despite these failings, Israeli leaders last week were making strong statements. Prime Minister Netanyahu was saying that “this shocking rape of a young girl has shaken all our hearts,” and that “the courts must apply the full force of the law to everyone responsible for this terrible deed.” Minister of Internal Security Gilad Erdan urged the internal security agency Shin Bet to pursue a nationalist motive (although none was suspected at first). Netanyahu’s rival from the right Avigdor Lieberman minced no words, he was certain that this was a terrorist act which deserved the death penalty:

The rape of a 7-year-old girl by a Palestinian shocked me deeply. This isn’t pedophilia but pure terrorism, a well-planned attack on a young, innocent, helpless girl. This is exactly the kind of case in which I wouldn’t hesitate; I demand that the court sentence this abominable terrorist to death.

Union of Right-Wing Parties leader Bezalel Smotrich cried:

If only it were possible to impose the death sentence on this scum. Such a monster doesn’t deserve to draw breath in our world.

And then, what do you know, it turned out they had the wrong person. But what the hell, it’s a Palestinian anyway, and just like Lieberman said that “there are no innocent people in Gaza” (when he was Defense Minister), no Palestinian in the West Bank can be assumed innocent either. It’s a safe bet to call them terrorists. The Jerusalem Post reported that the army statement “left it unclear as to whether the IDF may file a new indictment later against Katusa (Qatusa) for a different set of charges”. You never know, when you’re Palestinian – you’re never completely innocent.  

Let’s look at the second case. This is a mirror case, and it’s almost hard to fathom its surrealist nature.

In 2017, leading Breaking the Silence member Dean Issacharoff publicly claimed that he had beaten a Palestinian boy during his military service in Al-Khlail (Hebron), back in 2014.

Then Minister of Justice Ayelet Shaked, whose flagship mission was an assault on human rights organizations who challenge the supreme and righteous state narrative, urged the Attorney General to investigate the case. Shaked was eager to prove that Issacharoff was lying – that he had not beaten a Palestinian boy – in order to prove that Breaking the Silence was guilty of false portrayals and defamation of the Israeli army and state. Numerous organizations as well as Defense Minister Lieberman urged for an investigation.

An investigation was opened, and in November 2017 it concluded that the incident didn’t happen, and that Issacharoff had lied about it.

Netanyahu cheered:

Breaking the Silence lies and slanders our soldiers around the world. Today this fact received further proof, if anyone had a doubt. The truth wins out.

Shaked hailed the “truth”:

It is a good thing the truth came out about this organization.

Israel’s top diplomat at the time, Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely, unleashed her unequivocal conclusion about Breaking the Silence:

You are all traitors.

In other words, Israeli leaders were celebrating that Issacharoff was innocent, because that would prove that his organization is guilty.

But Issacharoff was pointing out that the prosecution was interviewing the wrong Palestinian – Hassan Julani, whereas the Palestinian whom he had beaten was Faisal al-Natsheh. Breaking the Silence issued a video showing al-Natsheh with Issacharoff at the time of the arrest.

But the case had been closed, and the hawks had their party, where Israel was proven to be faultless, and Breaking the Silence to be liars and traitors. Complaints from Issacharoff and his attorney Gaby Lasky brought a renewed examination of the case, and this week the prosecution announced, via Deputy State Prosecutor Nurit Litman:

Following the additional examination there is indeed a doubt regarding the man arrested in Hebron to whom Issacharoff was referring, and it certainly could be that the man arrested by Issacharoff was Natsheh and not Julani.

Paradoxically, Litman maintained that the first conclusions remained in force, even if they had questioned the wrong person:

Nevertheless, the initial conclusions we had reached regarding Issacharoff’s conduct remain in force.

Attorney Lasky responded:

The prosecution in its latest announcement admits that it investigated the wrong incident, and as a result its claim that my client had lied was based on totally irrelevant evidence. It’s unfortunate that Litman didn’t choose to announce in clear language that she had erred, which would have been the right and proper thing to do. It’s now clear to everyone that her previous stance has been invalidated, and that must be stressed.

You see, the Israeli Jew was fighting to convince everyone that he was indeed guilty of assaulting a Palestinian, but the state wouldn’t have it. On the other hand, a Palestinian, against all odds and evidence (and lack of it) was assumed guilty of rape and charged even for being a terrorist, and it took major media exposure to cast doubt upon the charge.

In both cases, the Palestinian was the “wrong guy”. In the Qatusa case, he was not the rapist. In the case involving Issacharoff, it was not Julani but Natsheh who was being beaten. On that side of Israeli Apartheid, the Palestinians are a one big mass, where names easily switch, it’s not a big deal. They are under military jurisdiction, which boasts of a 99.74% conviction rate. On the other side, even in the same territory, Israelis are under civilian jurisdiction. In the former, you are basically assumed guilty until proven otherwise. In the latter, even if you claim guilt, you’ll have a very hard time, especially if your claimed guilt involves Palestinians. Because their guilt depends upon our innocence.

Jonathan Ofir

Israeli musician, conductor and blogger / writer based in Denmark.

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19 Responses

  1. Tom Suarez on June 28, 2019, 12:39 pm

    Thanks, Jonathan, a fascinating juxtaposition that “says it all”.
    Every time you think it can’t get more surreal…

  2. JLewisDickerson on June 28, 2019, 2:28 pm

    RE: The Jerusalem Post reported that the army statement “left it unclear as to whether the IDF may file a new indictment later against Katusa (Qatusa) for a different set of charges”. You never know, when you’re Palestinian – you’re never completely innocent. ~ Ofir

    After months of trial postponement, Josef K goes to court painter Titorelli to ask for advice. He is told to hope for little. He might get definite acquittal, ostensible acquittal, or indefinite postponement. No one is ever really acquitted, but sometimes cases can be extended indefinitely.

    Titorelli: “You see, in definite acquittal, all the documents are annulled. But with ostensible acquittal, your whole dossier continues to circulate. Up to the higher courts, down to the lower ones, up again, down. These oscillations and peregrinations, you just can’t figure ‘em.”
    Josef K: “No use in trying either, I suppose.”
    Titorelli: “Not a hope. Why, I’ve known cases of an acquitted man coming home from the court and finding the cops waiting there to arrest him all over again. But then, of course, theoretically it’s always possible to get another ostensible acquittal.”
    Josef K: “The second acquittal wouldn’t be final either.”
    Titorelli: “It’s automatically followed by the third arrest. The third acquittal, by the fourth arrest. The fourth…”

    SOURCE –

    • Bumblebye on June 28, 2019, 6:47 pm

      This same insanity is playing out again in our Labour Party.
      Two days ago Labour MP Chris Williamson was reinstated with a warning after his suspension over saying the party had been too apologetic over antisemitism since it had done more than any other party to deal with the issue. Today, after an outcry by the (mostly tory & tory funded) Board of Deputies, CAA and others, plus all the LFI MPs he was resuspended. Absolute madness.

      • annie on June 28, 2019, 10:58 pm

        he was resuspended? labour just bend over backwards for the board of deputies. first the stupid demand they change the definition of antisemitism. and then all these demands to expel people. williamson is exactly right, they apologize too much and try to accommodate these intrusive demands. unbelievable! UK labour needs to grow some balls.

      • Tom Suarez on June 29, 2019, 5:03 am

        Annie, yes, REsuspended… and the media continue to reprint the lie that (to quote the Guardian) he had suggested that “the party was ‘too apologetic’ about antisemitism.” Williamson NEVER suggested Labour was “too apologetic” about [actual] antisemitism. His “too apologetic” referred to the politically-motivated smear tactic that (now my words, not his) is derailing UK democracy on behalf of Israel.

      • gamal on June 29, 2019, 7:43 am

        “unbelievable! UK labour needs to grow some balls”

        The feeling generally amongst Labour rank and file is that Corbyn is now a dead duck, the re-expulsion of Williamson has the Jewish Chronicle going in to full Purge mode, the “left” will be expelled or cowed and thus discredited.

        “Labour MPs who did not sign letter to remove Williamson whip have nowhere to hide”

      • MHughes976 on June 29, 2019, 8:14 am

        JLD’s Kafka quote seems to fit the Williamson situation rather well. The outcry against W was led or at least amplified by the BBC and the Guardian as usual – or so I gathered unscientifically from such television comment as I could bear to watch. The day has not come when the accusation of anti-S loses even a little of its power.

      • Mooser on June 29, 2019, 2:34 pm

        Here’s Geoffrey Alderman in The Jewish Telegraph:

        “Of course Labour has a problem with antisemitism. But so do the Tories. So does virtually every mainstream political party in this country.”

      • Keith on June 29, 2019, 8:27 pm

        MOOSER- “Here’s Geoffrey Alderman in The Jewish Telegraph:

        “Of course Labour has a problem with antisemitism. But so do the Tories. So does virtually every mainstream political party in this country.”

        Think of it! Jews are the most successful minority in the US and the UK INSPITE of rampant anti-Semitism! Why, without rampant anti-Semitism, just think what Jews could accomplish! There is a lesson there!

      • Sibiriak on June 30, 2019, 5:59 am

        Well, new laws to combat “hate speech” (a strategy strongly promoted by many progressives) are fast spreading across the globe. What could possibly go wrong?

        French online hate speech bill aims to wipe out racist trolling Abuse on social networks pushes MP to draw up law that could be copied across Europe

        … [The online hatred bill] states that hateful comments reported by users must be removed within 24 hours by platforms such as Twitter, Facebook or YouTube. This includes any hateful attack on someone’s “dignity” on the basis of race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability. If the social media platforms and tech companies do not comply, they will face huge fines of up to 4% of their global revenue. Penalties could reach tens of millions of euros. There will also be a new judiciary body to focus on online hate.

        The bill is part of Macron’s drive to make France a frontrunner in the regulation of big social media platforms. He announced the planned crackdown on online hate at a dinner for Jewish groups last year, amid a rise of antisemitic acts in France, saying that hateful content online must be taken down fast and “all possible techniques” put in place to find the identities of those behind it.

        Last month, after meetings with Macron, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg agreed to hand over to judges the identification data on its French users suspected of hate speech.

        Charles Koch and George Soros team up with Patreon, Mozilla, Pinterest and more to stamp out “hate” online

        […]A broad alliance is being formed in the United States to combat “online hate and extremism.”

        Members include billionaires Charles Koch and George Soros, tech companies Eventbrite, Mozilla, Pinterest, Patreon, Airbnb, the Anti-Defamation League, and a number of universities.

        These actors will team up in July, during the After Charlottesville Project conference in San Francisco, that will see discussions on “solutions for curbing political terrorism,” said the article.

        ADL and Partners Launch Initiative to Combat Extremism in Cities Across the U.S.

      • Keith on June 30, 2019, 9:10 pm

        MOOSER- “Here’s Geoffrey Alderman in The Jewish Telegraph:

        “Of course Labour has a problem with antisemitism. But so do the Tories. So does virtually every mainstream political party in this country.”

        Geoffrey Alderman’s comment raises certain rather obvious questions regarding empirical reality which, apparently, Mondoweiss moderators consider anti-Semitic to even broach. While not yet officially rejected, my comment of 6/29 @ 8:27 pm remains in limbo as folks try to evaluate whether I have unduly offended my betters. It is difficult to have a meaningful discussion when so much is deemed unacceptable to even mention. Perhaps Danaa would be permitted to say the obvious concerning this gilded victimhood.

      • Mooser on July 1, 2019, 3:58 pm

        “my comment of 6/29 @ 8:27 pm remains in limbo as folks try to evaluate.”

        Gee, looking at the US weather sites, 6/29 @ 8:27 pm was a beautiful Saturday evening in most of the country. Sunday very nice, too.

    • Tuyzentfloot on July 1, 2019, 2:54 am

      The Koch brothers stamping out hate speech sounds odd to me. They’re fairly libertarian . That makes them antigovernment, antiregulation, but also antiwar and pro free speech. On a subject like climate change for instance you can expect their position to be ‘yeah yeah whatever, but we want no regulations, period.’ Soros then is a staunch proponent of open societies. I would argue that pushing for open societies can be abused to make it counterproductive and to merely undermine socieites, and that it often has been used to that extent, but that doesn’t make his convictions less sincere. I’d be surprised if he wouldn’t be slightly worried by the current war on fake news. So I predict that Koch/Soros involvement is not as bad as it sounds.

      I’m also not surprised that Koch/Soros team up to counter the permanent war state.
      So I predict that their involvement in

      • Mooser on July 1, 2019, 4:01 pm

        “I would argue that pushing for open societies can be abused to make it counterproductive and to merely undermine socieites…”

        Well, there’s an interesting POV. What an inspiring slogan “The Truth Will Enslave You!”

      • Keith on July 1, 2019, 4:55 pm

        TUYZENTFLOOT- “Soros then is a staunch proponent of open societies.”

        Soros is a staunch proponent of societies open to financial penetration and control by financiers like him. He supported the immiseration of Russia under Yeltsin. He also works hand in glove with the CIA to foment color revolutions in targeted countries.

      • Tuyzentfloot on July 2, 2019, 6:24 am

        The Open Society Initiative easily becomes an extension of the NED, which is a CIA spinoff for regime change,
        solely driven by a narrowminded pursuit of US perceived interests.
        Soros is an unelected player whose actions affect many and where there is US intervention you often also find the OSI.
        In the Russia nineties disaster I think he did more to try and limit the damage than to cause it. But still he easily gets blamed.
        He’s no neoliberal but strongly believes in the need for government constraints on the markets. I think that is sound.
        He subscribes(or at least used to) to R2P, which I am very much against.
        There’s a Belgian prof (Jean Bricmont) who wrote a good book “Humanitarian Interventionism” which is very critical about the progressive support for humanitarian interventionism.

  3. LiberatePalestine on June 28, 2019, 2:32 pm

    In any legal system worthy of the name, a person accused of a crime is innocent until proven guilty. People are not detained for months on end while the state tries to cobble charges together, now from these factual allegations, now from those. Only soldiers are subject to military courts.

    In any legal system worthy of the name, a freely given confession to a crime is taken seriously. The state does not marshal its resources to prove that a soldier who confesses to a crime did not commit it. It does, however, investigate the crime for possible prosecution.

    But law works differently under apartheid.

  4. Ossinev on June 29, 2019, 7:37 am

    “UK labour needs to grow some balls”
    I hope that the current ongoing ” Anti – Semitism in the Labour Party” farce as it runs its course will have the effect of weeding out the hotch potch of Labour MP`s who have signed up to the get rid of JC at any cost on behalf of Israel cause. Ideally this would be come pre general election time when they are up for reselection which may be sooner rather than later given the Brexit scenario. Then the views and votes of the members who are younger more informed and certainly more sympathetic to the plight of the Palestinians as opposed to the “plight” of British Jews will decide the fate of the disgusting rag bag of Labour MP`s who have decided to participate in this grotesque conspiracy.

    In the meantime WRT Chris Williamson the Jewish Chronicle is on the case:

    Interesting that they have now come up with a new and “dynamic” way of describing “Anti- Semitism”. It may now be called “Jew baiting”. Sounds fishy to me but possible reasons are:
    1) They may have decided that the great British public are bored shitless with the constant whining about alleged “Anti- Semitism”
    2) It may be that Hasbara Central has decided on a new term or brand to enable them to market allegations of “Anti- Semitism” which are patent nonsense in a new way – as in he or she may not have said or done anything which can be described by any sane or sensible person as “Anti- Semitic” it would still be fair to describe their words or actions at the very least as “Jew baiting”. (Sob)

  5. Ossinev on June 30, 2019, 7:50 am

    Thanks for the Alderman Link. Margaret Hodge , the “secular” Jew who has been at the forefront of the stop JC from becoming PM at all cost otherwise known as the “Anti-Semitism” in the Labour Party campaign is a real piece of work and well up if not right at the top of the leading political hypocrites in the UK table. She certainly has some form:

    Dear old Margaret has decided that despite her feelings of unspeakable horror about the extent of “Anti – Semitism” in the Corbyn led Labour Party she will stay a member rather than jump ship purportedly to carry on the “good” fight from within.

    In reality she is a tired old has been who is scared shitless of becoming a real nobody if she was to take the plunge.

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