(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
President Moshe Katsav has drawn a parallel between himself, Captain Alfred Dreyfus, and the victims of former US senator Joseph McCarthy's witch hunt in the post-World War II era.
"Just as Joe McCarthy was resurrected in Israel," Katsav said, "there will also be a resurrection of Emile Zola."
Dreyfus, a French army officer who more than a century ago was unjustly accused and convicted of treason on anti-Semetic grounds. Justice-seeking writer Emile Zola brought the truth of the case to light and Dreyfus was eventually exonerated, pardoned, rehabilitated and promoted.
McCarthy waged a decade-long inquest beginning in the late 1940s into suspected Communists and Communist sympathizers, ruining the lives of thousands of innocent people unjustly charged with offenses such as espionage.
Katsav, who in recent weeks has with rare exceptions refrained from talking to reporters and has permitted only photo opportunities of events at Beit Hanassi, looked more relaxed than he has in a long time as he waited on Monday for the first batch of 2007's new foreign diplomats to present their credentials.
He made his comments in response to a question from The Jerusalem Post posed in light of the recent rumors that he might be indicted.
Katsav has consistently proclaimed his innocence and has asked the Israeli media not to play the role of judge and jury. He sees himself as the victim of a witch hunt, and is convinced that someone will come forward and rescue him from the abyss of infamy and possible incarceration.
Katsav received the credentials of four ambassadors - two of them resident and two of them non-resident. Two of the four were also women.
The four new envoys were Marina Josefina Fronza dos Reis Carvalho of Portugal; Namik Tan of Turkey ; Umar M. Lubuulwa of Uganda ; and Aino Lepik von Wiren of Estonia.
With the exception of Tan, with whom he spent more than half an hour in closed door discussions, Katsav cut his private sessions with the other ambassadors short.
With Carcalho, he discussed European Union policy and the need for Portugal and Israel to have more top-level discussions. There has been a lapse of several years, he reminded her, since anyone from the highest echelons of the Portuguese government has visited Israel.
With Tan, who was accompanied by a large retinue that included several female diplomats, Katsav reminisced about his state visit to Turkey and Tan in turn spoke of Turkish President Ahmet Necdet Sezer's highly successful visit to Israel and the strong ties that exist between the two countries.
Katsav and Tan also reviewed the general situation in the Middle East and discussed Turkey's progress in its bid for European Union membership.
Lubuulwa, who came attired in his country's national dress, is a non-resident ambassador stationed in Cairo.
Katsav and Lubuulwa both agreed they would like to see more cooperation between the two countries.
Von Wiren will remain in Tallin, the Estonian capital. She told Katsav that as a result of his visit to her country, a cornerstone had been laid for a new synagogue, the completion of which will soon be celebrated with a state ceremony. The visit had been a turning point in relations between the two countries, she said.
At the conclusion of the presentations of letters of credence, Katsav, accompanied by senior aides, went out into the grounds of Beit Hanassi to thank the police band and IDF Honor Guard for their services.
On two previous occasions in which he accepted credentials, he waited for media personnel to disappear before venturing outside. This time, their presence did not bother him. Before taking his leave of the soldiers, Katsav bowed to them, then turned on his heel and strode back into the building.