A judge in Tel Aviv sparked outrage on Wednesday after he reportedly remarked, during an appeals hearing on a rape case several days ago, that some women enjoy rape.
Nissim Yeshaya later apologized for his remark.
Yeshaya, who served on the bench of the Tel Aviv District Court from 1993 to 2009, has retired but was leading a panel that was hearing an appeal on Monday when he said aloud that “there are women that enjoy rape,” bringing the room to sudden silence, Army Radio reported.
According to a lawyer present at the scene, Yeshaya “didn’t really understand what he said and didn’t understand why everyone was quiet.”
The hearing involved the case of a 13-year-old Israeli girl who was raped by four Palestinian teenagers from the Shuafat refugee camp six years ago.
The four were captured, convicted and imprisoned, but the Defense Ministry ruled that the rape was not a “hostile act” — that is, an act of political aggression. This meant the victim was not be entitled to government compensation and other benefits which terror victims receive. The Defense Ministry oversees criminal cases involving West Bank Palestinians.
The victim was in court to appeal the Defense Ministry’s decision and was described as being “upset and very hurt,” but she said that she didn’t think that Yeshaya’s remark was said out of “malice or evil.”
Her lawyer. who argued that the victim was targeted because she was Jewish, told Army Radio that “the problem is that state of mind, that thought, that prejudice against the victims of sexual assault. It’s the tip of the iceberg when judges trip up in their language and give expression to what is in their hearts.”
Yeshaya later officially apologized for his remark. The Courts Administration said in a statement that “things were said” during the heated debate but there was “no intention to hurt or belittle rape victims,” adding that Yeshaya would be summoned to clarify what happened.
On Wednesday Yeshaya’s statement was panned by politicians, who called for his removal. Culture Minister Limor Livnat, who also heads the ministerial committee for the advancement of women, called on court administrator Judge Michael Shpitzer to ban Yeshaya from future participation on legal panels.
“The judge’s statement was appalling and outrageous,” she said. “It is difficult to assess the total harm it caused, which may deter other sexual assault victims, present and future, from reporting attacks.”
Veteran MK Reuven Rivlin (Likud) also said that Yeshaya should be removed from any official positions in the judiciary, as did Meretz leader Zahava Gal-on.