Israeli scholar and law professor Mordechai Kedar, who made headlines recently for his comments about rape as a way to combat Hamas terrorism, says that the backlash to this controversy has done little, if anything, to affect his academic speaking tour through North American university campuses, which is scheduled for this upcoming winter.
Last month, just after the bodies of the three kidnapped Israeli soldiers were found, Kedar, a senior lecturer at Israel’s Bar Ilan University’s Department of Arabic, told Israeli radio program “Hakol Diburim” (“It’s All Talk”) that “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped.” He added, “that’s the culture in which we live.”
As one of Israel’s leading academics on the Arab world, his comments caused waves, and were immediately denounced both in Israel and abroad. Kedar and the university insisted that he was not advocating military rape, rather he was just painting a picture of the reality on the ground.
On Friday, Kedar said in an interview that the media frenzy around his comments have only raised his profile and increased interest in having him speak during his planned six week tour of North America in January and February 2015. No institution has canceled any of his planned appearances thus far, he said. In fact, he added, “at least two or three places invited me only because of this witch hunt.” Although many colleges and campus organizations have not yet booked speakers for the coming academic year, Kedar said so far he has been asked to appear at academic events in Ann Arbor, Mich., and in Sarasota, Fla., and to give a talk sponsored by Ohio State University.
He maintains that what are being called his “anti-feminist” comments were oversimplified and taken out of context.
In an op-ed published in Israel National News late last month, Kedar described himself as “an avowed feminist” who is “absolutely opposed to any type of violence towards women.” In the piece, he proceeds to qualify his provocative comments by explaining Arab culture, “tribal life,” he calls it, and adding plainly that “in the Middle East, rape is a weapon of war.” He did not, he says, advocate rape.