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Mishael Cheshin - An Inspiring Man

Mishael ChesinI wanted to share with you a note about an inspirational Israeli man who passed away recently - Mishael Cheshin, an Israeli judge on the Supreme Court of Israel.

I felt a need to mention him because of his historical ruling in the case of the gang rape in Kibbutz Shomrat in 1988. Three 17-year-old boys from the kibbutz along with eight men from outside the Kibbutz, raped a 14-year-old girl, also from the kibbutz. The 11 men raped the girl over the course of two weeks, one after another. The five defense attorneys argued that the victim had consensual sex with all 11 men, that she never resisted or cried.

After a four-year trial, a different judge (not Mishael Cheshin) decided to acquit the defendants due to reasonable doubt. Public pressure led to an appeal for the Supreme Court Judge, Mishael Cheshin, which imposed jail sentences on several of the young man. Cheshin determined: “when a woman says no she means no”, that was his correspondence with Dan Almagor, an Israeli songwriter’s song “when you say no, what do you mean?”

When you say “no”, what do you mean?
What do you mean, when you say “no”?
Maybe the “no” is “no” - and really it means just “maybe, but not now,”
Or the “no,” is just “not yet”
Maybe It’s “come” because when you say “no” so gracefully it sounds more inviting from “yes.”

This ruling was a historical land mark in mutual relationship and consent and Cheshin wrote the following:
“when a woman says “no”, she means “no” as the definition in the dictionary to “no” and as it’s meaning in the everyday life.” 
“likewise a woman, likewise a man, likewise a boy, likewise a girl, likewise an old man , likewise an old woman, likewise every human being.
“no” is forever “no,” and there isn’t a “no” that is a “yes”… there is no black that is white, and there isn’t night that is day.
“no” is “no”, a woman that’s saying “no,” and a man sleeps with her in spite of her saying no, the sex is without consent, and the act is rape.

Cheshin was a man who went against the herd and changed the direction with his courage and his conscience, and should be acknowledged for that. It’s important to indicate that 30 years after Dan Almagor wrote the song, he also acknowledged the deep ethical change that the society is going through, and changed one of the verses in the song:

“when she says “no!” – this is what she means!”
This is what she means, when she says “no!”
That’s why her “no” is final and definite,
Because she decided, not any court house.”