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The Wild South – a Red South//Anat Gopstein

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Anat Gopstein’s latest column in Gilui Da’at:
The Wild South – a Red South
For years we’ve been getting harsh stories about exploitation of girls by Arabs and the failures of the law enforcement authorities and welfare services. I thought nothing could surprise me, but it seems that reality conquers any imagination and that there’s no limit to craziness.
A 13 y.o. girl staying in a welfare hostel, ran away from it, was “rented out” and brutally raped by 3 Beduins. She met the Beduins in the hostel. They were friends of the girls and were allowed to enter there. A place that was meant to protect the girls, endangered them. The hostel manager explained to the worried mother that these are Arabs that are better than Jews, and that whoever opposed connections between Arabs and Jews is a racist. That’s how they educate the girls, who come out against their parents and claim they’re racist.
They ignore the fact that this isn’t about love, but about exploitation and distress. Most of the girls at high risk in the State of Israel are exploited by Arabs. And it’s totally lawless. A system that is supposed to protect these girls, really endangers them. The welfare authorities acted negligently, and we were forced to involve politicians and the media.
The attorney Vered Levi fought for the girl in court so that she could move to a treatment center and be truly protected. The girl went through a meaningful process, she understood that she was hurt and asked for justice. The rapists were arrested and admitted to the act. They claimed that they didn’t know she was a minor. As if she were not a minor, it would be OK to attack her against her will… The prosecutors’ office did not allow the girl’s lawyer to sue in court. The state was on the side of the attackers and had no concern for the victim. They acted with determination to release the attackers. The girl remained with mental scars and for half a year she took medication against infection. After the half year was up, a hearing took place in the prosecutors’ office where they informed the victim that they were closing the file.
The hearing was shocking, cold and alienating. The prosecution summed up the hearing in one sentence: We have no emotion, and that’s what happened there. I felt like we were living in Sodom and Gomorrah. The girl got angry and screamed at them, even breaking a flowerpot out of rage. For them, a flowerpot was broken; but her heart was broken. A week later, she tried to take her own life. After pressure from Lehava and the website “HaKol HaYehudit” (The Jewish Voice), the welfare officials woke up and gave the girl a response, and she underwent a significant process.
“I want to publish my story”, she told me.
“I want people to know that I have been wronged, and that I did not get a fair trial”, she said to me. “It’s important to me to warn other girls not to be naïve.”
Today there is an awakening about the situation in the South of the country and lack of response by the authorities. When we shouted out about the violence in Arab society and lack of response from the system, we were called racists. A racist is one who does not expect them to act like human beings, and so makes it possible for them to attack.
In Lehava we get referrals about attacks that do not get any solution, and we give legal and therapeutic assistance. Even the state ombudsman claims that there is no response to an attack on a minor, and most of the files on sexual offenses against children are closed. The prosecution’s motivation depends on the identity of the offender, and not upon the severity of the act.
The law enforcement system in the state of Israel deals with politics, not with prevention of crime. It has mercy on the cruel and becomes cruel to the merciful. And we are left to pray: “Restore our judges as at first and our counselors as at the beginning.”