Pretense of human rights used for demonization

Update: According to a statement issued by Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity on March 14, 2012 and published on the JTA website, the group claimed that the Vaseline rape poster was on their Facebook page for approximately 30 minutes, and the poster depicting the rape of a woman was accessible only on the poster designer’s private Facebook page.

The title of both posters, “Migron Amok,” is a crude play on words referencing the 1970s pornographic film, “Deep Throat” (the word Migron, a West Bank settlement, is similar to the Hebrew word for throat, garon).  The text on both posters read:

“If they were residents of Haifa, Beer Sheva or Ashdod they would be in jail. But they are settlers. So shut up, bend down, swallow, you probably know that you want it.”

In the wake of the controversy surrounding the “rape” posters, the Israeli daily Ha’aretz published an exposé on sexual harassment within “leftist organizations.”  The story explains that the poster, featuring a jar of Vaseline and inflammatory rape rhetoric, “angered activists, almost as much as the incidents of sexual harassment.” The exposé also includes a letter sent from an activist to her friends at Anarchists Against the Wall, “in which she wrote of the incidents of sexual harassment she had experienced in Kfar a-Dik, a West Bank village where the organization holds protests in support of the Palestinians from time to time.”

Ha’aretz obtained other testimonies that tell “of a wider phenomenon of sexual harassment and assault of Israeli and foreign protesters in the West Bank. In the past two years, at least six incidents were recorded in the West Bank and East Jerusalem: two in Sheikh Jarrah, four more in the Mount Hebron area, in Masra, in Kfar a-Dik, and an alleged case of attempted rape in Umm Salmona, near Bethlehem, that was revealed in Haaretz.”

NGO Monitor originally reported on this story in August 2010 following a July 14, 2010 article in Ha’aretz.  The human rights NGO community in Israel has generally ignored this problem because they view it as a distraction from their political activism.  

In addition to the Ha’aretz story, numerous activists have spoken out against the exploitation of rape in both posters, as seen here, here, and here.

JERUSALEM – A poster published on the official Facebook page of the political advocacy NGO known as the “Solidarity Movement” depicts a woman being raped, as a metaphor for Israel allegedly being “raped” by “settlers.” This image is highly offensive and represents the antithesis of tolerance, dialogue and human rights, according to Jerusalem-based NGO Monitor.

“The poster is a vitriolic, offensive, and highly distorted depiction of Israeli society and the legal process,” says Prof. Gerald Steinberg, president of NGO Monitor. “By publishing this, the Solidarity Movement has completely dropped the pretense of promoting human rights and tolerance. This is not the first time that an NGO claiming a human rights agenda has exploited a crude rape image as part of the wider political assault against Israel.”

The poster depicts a woman forcefully pinned down with her mouth held open, with the poster title a takeoff of the film “Deep Throat.” The text, referring to the controversy over the Migron settlement, proclaims: “If they were residents of Haifa, Beer Sheva or Ashdod they would be in jail. But they are settlers. So shut up, bend down, swallow, you probably know that you want it.”

“Since its inception as the Sheikh Jarah Solidarity Movement, (named after a Jerusalem neighborhood characterized by intense property disputes) this NGO has become increasingly inflammatory in its rhetoric and activities,” Steinberg added. “Sara Benninga, a leader of the group, has accused Israel of ‘fascism’ and ‘ethnic discrimination against its residents,’ and protesters at rallies hold up signs declaring ‘Apartheid is here.’ [Note: A webpage with the “Apartheid is here” poster was later removed from the Solidarity website.] Such language fundamentally contradicts the declared principles of one of its main donors, the New Israel Fund, and demonstrates the urgent need for foundations and governments to closely monitor and hold grantees accountable.” 

Adds Steinberg: “Individuals and organizations that claim to promote human rights and liberal values in the context of a broader conversation have a moral obligation to condemn this, and ensure that their funding does not enable such flagrant abuses. Indeed, some Solidarity members have spoken out, but not enough.”  The image on the rape poster, which appeared on the official Solidarity Movement Facebook page, was changed (though the language remained the same) after criticism by some members.  The original and new version can be viewed here and below:

New Picture:                              Original Picture: