Nice Jewish Girls Raped in Israel #MeToo

Advertisement from Taglit Birthright Israel. Words say “Let’s Go #HelloIsrael.” Photo background is a group of people in swimsuits standing in water with their hands up.

I was raped by a Jewish Israeli man. I was 21. He was a friend that I met on an organized trip for young American Jews to volunteer their time in Israel. When I went to the Israeli police to report it, the officer accused me of lying, saying why should they believe a foreigner like me over the Israeli solider who raped me.

Rape is not uncommon for American Jewish women like me when visiting Israel. There are countless stories like this and this, and so many more cases of women that have not shared their story publicly. The American Jewish community encourages us to go to Israel and connect to our “roots” without acknowledging that we are targets. They have no resources for us, nor do they even acknowledge the problem. I for one, will not be silent anymore.

Targets for Rape

Photo from the Israeli film “Hot Bubblegum” (1981). Image shows two men looking at a blonde woman.

Foreign women in Israeli media are often portrayed as easy, especially blonde Americans like me. It is no wonder that when Israeli men meet us, they may think that we are interested in a sexual encounter.

The program I participated in used Jewish women volunteers to “raise the morale” of young Israeli men soldiers according to the madricha (or guide leader) of my trip. I was often assigned to make coffee and tea, and when I requested real work to do, that’s when she explained my role, inviting me to just hang out with the men.

When Jewish women are brought for trips to Israel by Jewish organizations, never is any training provided on sexual assault. Safety is discussed solely in terms of terrorism. We are told that the only danger comes from Palestinians and that Israelis, especially soldiers are there to protect us. Often, we are told that Israel is safer than the United States because everyone is Jewish. You can go out, you can buy alcohol legally at age 18. We aren’t even taught about cultural differences like when an Israeli man invites you for coffee, he means sex.

In these ways, Jewish women are set up to be raped by programs like Birthright Israel that bring diaspora Jews to Israel.

Take Action to Reduce Assault

Logo of the Association of Rape Crisis Centers

Jewish organizations that run Israel trips should talk about sexual assault. Participants should be given resources in case anything happens to them, including the Israeli rape crisis hotline number 1202 and in the United States (800) 656-HOPE.

Rape is an issue in the Jewish community, as it is in every community. To be silent, is to be complacent in the sexual assault of Jewish women. All Jewish organizations should talk about sexual assault, and not just those organizing trips to Israel. Jewish organizations in the U.S. and around the world should support the Association of Rape Crisis Centers in Israel. I hope that my coming forward will give space for other survivors to share their stories and encourage people to believe survivors when they come forward. I hope this starts a conversation in my community about sexual assault.