Neri Livneh – Haaretz December 30, 2010
“Foundational moment” is an understatement for that day in a state’s life when the
verdict is handed down in the case of a former president charged with rape and sexual harassment. Regardless of the outcome, this is also a moment of truth for the legal system, which must decide whether the man chosen to be Israel’s number one citizen has the same sexual rights once granted to feudal lords, kings and princes.
Today marks the end of a four-year process during which the very fact of the ex-president’s indictment asserted that what is no longer permitted even to kings is also forbidden to presidents. From today, every woman – whether she has a doctorate or a fourth-grade education – will know that some things no one has the right to do to her against her will. That no one can harass her any more without being called to account. Even someone who was president when the first complaint against him was filed was not able to evade investigation and trial, despite enormous efforts.
And the minute this becomes common knowledge, victims of sex crimes will no longer have to be faceless women identified only by their initials.
Throughout the last four years, Moshe Katsav and his spokesmen accused the media of trying and convicting him – as if he were not the one who first went to the media, seeking to use it to smear the complainants. When this effort failed, he was furious at the press for not having forgotten its true calling: to reveal to the public what those in high office seek to conceal by means of their vast power, which dwarfs that of the complainants.
One would be tempted to say “sic transit gloria mundi” – except that Katsav’s glory, which in any case was never more than party-wide, had begun to fade even before that famous press conference at which he lost all self-control, and its last remnants turned to shame on that day when his followers falsely accused one complainant of having previously been a call girl.
What brought Katsav to this day was not the hostile media, but his own character. For he is someone whose male urges trumped his brain in all his actions, not just those acts on which judgment will be rendered today. It’s as if he were a headless horseman rather than a head of state.
“Those who are about to die salute you,” the gladiators used to tell the Roman emperor before entering the arena. In that spirit, all the harassers and rapists can tell Katsav today, “We, who are destined someday to stand where you are now, salute you.”
Footnote – From a Reader December 31, 2010
A reader writes:
Peres had his rival convicted to generate good publicity for Israel, deceptively painting it as a democracy with rule of law. Katsav was elected to President instead of Peres, so Peres had to find a way to smear and dethrone Katsav.
You know that people in government perpetrate worse offences routinely and don’t get convicted, right? Please remember the Franklin Coverup.