Several years ago I attended an urgent Knesset session. MK Danny Danon told a hushed crowd that Jewish girls, mostly new immigrants, were being kidnapped in the middle of the night by Arab men. He described the situation vividly: "Girls are simply loaded into a vehicle by force by members of minorities."
Other participants described young Jewish women being seduced and finding themselves in abusive relations with Arab men in places they cannot leave. They claimed hundreds of such cases take place every year. Fear filled the air in the packed room.
Next, a police representative was called in to testify before the committee and to explain how the police is dealing with this horrific phenomenon. He took the stand and explained, almost matter-of-factly, that the police was not aware of any such phenomenon of Jewish girls being kidnapped by Arab men. The stories were not true.
IRAC has published a report, “Racism and Gender in Israel,” chronicling how false claims like these are being used systematically, and with increased frequency in Israel to provoke Jewish discrimination and violence against Arab men, and to justify segregating Arabs and Jews. The examples are disturbing: well-known rabbis publicly warning Israeli Jews about “Arab seducers”; telephone hotlines to report the names of Arab men dating Jewish women in order to “deal with them”; violent physical attacks on Arab men; and the distribution of fliers warning:
"Dear Arab guy: Who do not want you to get hurt! Our girls are dear to us. Just as you would not want a Jew to date your sister, so too we are not willing to let an Arab date a girl from our people...If you plan on coming to the pedestrian mall or the mall in Jerusalem to date Jewish girls, this isn't the place. You can walk around your own village and find girlfriends there, not here!"
We invite you to read our report and share it with others. Together we can put an end to this toxic cocktail of racism and sexism, where claims of assimilation and sexual subjugation are purposefully exaggerated to spread fear and to perpetuate hatred.
We will be hosting our own conference at the Knesset next week to raise awareness about the real problem of racism in Israeli society. Israel does not need to “defend the honor of Jewish women” from Arab men, as some extremist rabbis claim. Israel, and anyone caring deeply about the Jewish state, needs to defend the honor of all Israelis by exposing those responsible for racial incitement and denying them the public legitimacy that they seek.