Erez Efrati,
Photo: Yaron Brener

Welcome to the boys’ club

In Israel, being a distinguished soldier may help you get away with rape

If the undeniable male predominance in politics, the military, and the police force has not yet convinced us that Israel is just one big boys' club, the Erez Efrati case certainly should.


Let's examine the evidence brought before the court: A sane, adult male was seen by witnesses attempting to brutally rape a woman whom he proceeded to maul and wound when she refused to tell them she was his girlfriend. A sample of his DNA was recovered from her bruised body.


If it seems like an open and shut case, that's probably because it is. Especially since the defendant, Erez Efrati, admitted after the DNA evidence was revealed that he did commit the act, after having flatly denied it until that point. Throughout the case he showed no remorse for his disturbingly violent act, not even upon confronting his sobbing victim. However, on Tuesday he was afforded the option of signing a plea bargain reducing his probable prison sentence by four years.


Why, we ask? The only likely answer is that Erez Efrati was a commended officer in the IDF, and one of the chief of staff’s bodyguards, all of which seems to mean the State has instilled in him "values" that apparently make him immune to any wrongdoing, and afford him automatic protection from too severe a punishment.


It was not the first time the boys' club had saved an admitted rapist. In an eerily similar case tried in November of 2006, the Tel Aviv District Court sentenced 27-year old Yair Binder, a security guard who admitted to following a young woman up to her apartment and attempting to rape her there, to just six months of civil service.


The court explained its decision by highlighting that Binder had been an "outstanding soldier" and, in light of this, "a man of values and conscience" who merely seemed to have been caught up in "emotional distress". He was also afforded psychological treatment courtesy of the State and went home happy as a clam.


Granted, it is only natural for Israel to want to recognize some of its defenders as heroes, and protect them in return, especially in light of the battles waged against many of them by the international community. But protecting its own does the security establishment, and the State, more harm than good.


Bad lesson for our youth 

Not only has the case of Erez Efrati caused countless women to lose faith in the court’s ability to punish violent assailants who are so obviously guilty, it has also taught Israel’s young men they can get away with practically anything by working for the security establishment. It is not only the boys’ club that will protect them, but Israeli society’s desperate need to see them as untainted heroes, supermen protecting its members from the numerous harrowing threats that beset Israel on a daily basis.


In actuality, the State would do better to make sure these “heroes” of the defense establishment are adequately punished for their crimes. Firstly, as men commended by the State they are natural choices for examples to be followed by other young men, and secondly, their training affords them combat skills far superior to those possessed by other criminals.


In the case of Erez Efrati, not only will the State be sending a violent, virtually self-admitted rapist back out into the world after a reduced prison sentence, it will be sending out a violent rapist whom it has trained to accurately fire weapons. His next victim might not be so lucky as to receive mere blows.


In addition to this, the State’s excuse for signing a plea bargain with Efrati was that he was drunk out of his mind, which provides our youth with yet another wonderful example to follow – namely that being drunk excuses them from taking responsibility for many of the consequences of their actions.


As to Efrati's victim, she may have been "spared" by the prosecution the pain of testifying and a possible stain on her reputation, but this seems a moot point. She had already gathered her strength and arrived at the courthouse, willing to undergo this pain for the sake of exposing the truth. Now, instead of walking away with a sense of justice and a stain on her reputation, she is left only with the feeling of a miscarriage of justice and a "DNA" stain left on her by her victorious assailant.


פרסום ראשון: 06.16.10, 11:03
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