How Western guilt minimizes the suffering of Israeli and Jewish women

WARNING: This article contains graphic descriptions of atrocities

At a time when even the US demands a halt to Israel’s offensive in Gaza amid cries of genocide and spiking antisemitism against Diaspora Jews, the question of proportionality emerges stronger than ever. This ambiguity as to when exactly Israel’s response crosses the line between necessary and excessive seems to play off the extent of what happened on October 7. Since Hamas’s rampage, countless probes have sought to both disprove and justify sexual assault as the lynchpin of dictating the “appropriateness” of Israel’s retaliation. Even in the face of evidence and known Iranian support, much of the world – many Jews included — calls for a total ceasefire, insisting Hamas poses no existential threat.

The question of veracity surrounding the reported sexual victimization remains a potent point of controversy. Despite ample video evidence of the murderous carnage, immense focus remains on the sexual aspect. This reflects the obsession around sex held by so many human societies. While skepticism over rape remains a contested issue by the women’s rights movement at large, Western guilt over the Palestinian plight has overshadowed the willingness of many women’s rights groups to decry the October 7 sexual assault reports. This hesitation comes flanked by entities such as the UN stating how such incidents didn’t happen in a vacuum. In other words, these incidents either didn’t occur or, if they did, they were justified.

This guilt surfaces for many progressives who never question that rape is used as a weapon of war or terrorism across sub-Saharan Africa today or throughout history such as My Lai, or the alleged assault of Palestinian women by IDF soldiers. When it comes to Gaza and the Palestinians, this idea of Israelis as Western oppressors and Hamas and their civilian lackies as the “noble oppressed other” reigns supreme. Thus, the “believe all women” crowd suddenly requires DNA, if not video, evidence to understand why Israel dared retaliate.

Indeed, in light of the demanded sexual assault survivor testimonies, former hostage Mia Schem described how the Gazan man transporting her via motorbike groped her until her screams alerted him to her nearly severed arm. The fact that this story doesn’t count as an adequate testimony showcases another disturbing aspect of society’s tendencies to move the goal post when it comes to sexual assault. Similarly, former hostage Amit Soussana detailed what has been deemed an official account of sexual assault she was forced to commit at gunpoint, a story which has been met with a revamped call for a ceasefire to “protect the hostages” – not to free the hostages.

In this way, one wonders at what point such sexual abuse by Hamas would even be considered “serious” enough to warrant a bilateral ceasefire. Case in point, under UK law, an assault that doesn’t involve penile penetration can be questioned as even meeting the definition of rape. This stipulation was only removed in US law in 2012. In this way, rape culture’s gatekeeping has permeated both Western culture and certainly those “Eastern” cultures regarded by white savior racism as “noble savages”. The distrust of women continues to inculcate countless narratives, rendering moot experiences like Mia’s and Amit’s as ambiguous in the absence of the requested excruciating detail. Then again, would DNA and video proof of the UK’s definition having occurred and guaranteed to recur even warrant Israel’s response – and to what extent?

Mia provides a voice for the charred bodies found in compromising positions and the adolescent hostage seen forced into a jeep with the seat of her pants bloodied. She is the survivor everyone has requested – and yet, her testimony isn’t seen as proficient to reflect the depravity of everything else that could have transpired on October 7. Even her account telling of a mysterious gash on her inner thigh upon waking up from shoddy arm surgery doesn’t seem to have risen much curiosity. Because such curiosity might just end up shattering the gate barring the impact her statements would have in any other context. Instead, the calls continue for some undefined level of proof that Hamas’s sexual assault was “systemic”, including even by Jews who have fallen victim to this white guilt.

If these human rights groups and government bodies want to claim that Hamas’s promises to repeat such atrocities in perpetuity don’t warrant the scale of Israel’s retaliation, so be it. In so doing, the world chastises an alleged oppressor that has tried for years to placate the Palestinians with both land concessions and employment opportunities. These peace offerings were then met with attacks on civilians known to support Palestinian independence. Thus, one might view the Jewish state and diaspora Jews as never justified to respond, regardless of the extent of the crime or the threat still at hand.

About the Author
Sarah Katz is an author, screenwriter, and security professional with a bachelor degree in Middle East Studies from UC Berkeley and a master degree in counterterrorism. Her work has appeared in the Jewish Journal and Middle East Forum as well as Cyber Defense Magazine, Cyber Security, Dark Reading, Geopolitical Monitor, Infosecurity Magazine, ISACA Journal, 365 tomorrows, AHF Magazine, Scarlet Leaf Review and Thriller Magazine. Her book "Back to the Tribe: Intersectionality through a Global Jewish Lens" discusses the dangers of stealth antisemitism masquerading as anti-Zionism on the Western left.
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