To be clear, Shavit is not accused of rape. When I say “rape culture,” I’m referring to the way our culture, based on patriarchal values, objectifies women, disregards their rights and normalizes and legitimizes sexual violence against them. When women do speak out against violence, rape culture encourages society to blame them. This dynamic has less to do with sex and more to do with power. Some powerful men are so sure of their importance that they assume any woman would want nothing more than to be their sex object. If she doesn’t, no problem — the men are entitled to take her anyway. As Donald Trump said in the now-infamous “Access Hollywood” video, if you’re famous and powerful, you can do just about anything. Both men and women can be victims of rape culture, which exists pretty much everywhere in the Western world, including in the American Jewish community and, yes, here in Israel…
Davidi Perl, a settlement leader, resigned from public life in October following reports that he had paid tens of thousands of dollars to a woman so that she wouldn’t go public with her charges of sexual assault. He refused to admit guilt, however. Former employees of Knesset Member Oren Hazan have accused him of rubbing himself against them, grabbing them and exposing himself. Hazan says he is being “unfairly used as a punching bag.”
In April, a high-level appointment of Brigadier General Ofek Buchris, an up-and-coming military man who holds a citation for bravery, was cancelled following a female subordinate’s multiple allegations of rape and sexual harassment.
In February, well-regarded actor Moshe Ivgy, 62, was suspended from his position in the Haifa repertoire theater after six women who formerly worked with Ivgy said that he had sexually harassed them.
In December 2015, interior minister Silvan Shalom stepped down from decades of public life after 11 women came forward with accusations of sexual assault.
In November 2015, Jewish Home Knesset member Yinon Magal resigned after several women accused him of sexual harassment. There has also been a long string of sexual harassment scandals in the highest echelons of the Israel Police Force, leading to resignations and suspensions.
And then there’s former president Moshe Katzav, convicted on December 30, 2010, of two counts of rape and other sexual offenses committed against female workers during his term as president and when he served as tourism minister. Katzav waged a nasty PR war against his accusers and stubbornly refused to resign before criminal proceedings; he is slated for release in 2018.