Reporter's Notebook: The anonymous walking dead
Unquestionably “S.D.” was a tragic figure, considered by many who knew him for a lifetime to be “Judas.”
EHUD OLMERT Photo: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post
The fact that the identity of the state’s main witness in the Holyland trial is
still anonymous even after his death symbolizes who he was, or at least what was
left of him by the time the trial came along.
One can debate the truth of
many of his specific allegations, his innocence or guilt and the defendants’
innocence or guilt, but unquestionably “S.D.” was a tragic figure, considered by
many who knew him for a lifetime to be “Judas.” For whatever reason: justice,
money, a late-found conscience, revenge for perceived betrayal, here was a man
who turned on all of the men who had been his friends, colleagues, employers,
employees and allies for decades.
Even before his physical demise, he was
the walking dead. When he walked across the courtroom for one of his periodic
bathroom breaks, it seemed that his problems with walking were not only
Here was a broken man. A few times this reporter made attempts
at small talk with him as we passed in the hallway, not even asking any
questions about the case, and the return gaze was one of abandonment and
Abandonment of any hope for redemption, happiness or ability to
joke. Surprise that anyone had taken notice of him, as if the only reason anyone
would take notice of him now was when he was on the witness stand.
must remember that S.D. had a long history of health issues, and true or not, he
testified that one of the reasons that brought him to eventually “tell the
truth” about his former friends was that when he got sick and needed money to
pay his medical bills, they abandoned him, deciding that he no longer had future
value to them.
He also implied that one of the reasons he was “picked” to
be the middleman who did all the “dirty work” allegedly connecting the wealthy
bribers and their public sector bribees was that there was very little
noteworthy about him.
He fit the bill for anonymity and moving under the
radar of the authorities, who incidentally never caught him – he came to them,
or they probably never would have noticed.
There were only two kinds of
eye contact between S.D. and the defendants in the case: none whatsoever and
fully aroused red-eyed vengeful fury.
The defendants for their part
related to S.D.
also in only two ways: mostly they ridiculed him and
laughed at him, his charges, his contradictions, his confusion and his
long-winded manner. They also on occasion got angry and yelled out in response
to charges he made they felt were too close to home, sometimes at the cost of a
rebuke by the court to remain quiet during S.D.’s testimony.
likes to be called a liar. But when S.D.
was called a liar, he fumed, his
voice rose and he seemed to physically react as if he had been
Here was a man who, at least taken at his word, spent his life
breaking and bending the law and getting others to do so.
seemed to imply that he thought himself beyond redemption, but still would feel
better about himself having finally told the truth and cleansed the state of all
of his allegedly corrupt former allies.
As much as he was confusing to
follow, he relished the details of zoning and legal minutiae, sometimes turning
the tables on crossexamining attorneys and patting himself on the back that he
would still outsmart all of his opposition.
Now that he is gone, S.D.
will remain eternally somewhat anonymous and a mystery.
Even if and when
his identity is revealed, possibly soon, it will be after the fact, in an
afterthought that will not impact the case or much of his image.
being eulogized by his daughter, he was still anonymous publicly.
be sometime before the country will be able to decide whether to thank S.D. for
cleansing the ranks of public service or putting the country through an
unnecessary and pointless traumatic drama.
But for this broken and
plagued caricature of a man, he has probably finally found some peace.