The Katsav Verdict

Sir, – Regarding “Moshe Katsav, Israel’s 8th president, convicted of rape, faces long jail term” (December 31), Katsav is guilty of stupidity, inappropriate behavior, lying, embarrassing the office of the president and staining the reputation of Israel and its citizens.

Nevertheless, it breaches the limits of credulity that a woman who serially had sex with him over the course of several years, who willingly entered his hotel room while he was in a state of undress, who voluntarily accompanied him on nocturnal drives to his darkened offices in Tel Aviv, and who leveraged her intimacy with her boss in order to win promotions, can retroactively cry “rape” once the quid pro quos have ground to a halt.

Women have a right to be protected from unwanted advances.

And men must realize that “no” means “no.” But the exchange of sexual favors for payment falls under a different legal rubric than rape – one in which the purveyor is no less guilty than her client.

J.J. GROSS
Jerusalem

Sir, – I was sad and ashamed to learn that a former president of our country had been convicted of rape. But when I read the article, I was shocked and angered.

“Aleph” was raped in a Tel Aviv office. Did she do what any rape victim does? Complain? Sue? Quit the job where the rapist is her boss? Nope. She hangs in there.

And what woman in her right mind goes into a hotel room to meet with her alleged rapist, notices that he is not wearing pants, and still walks in and closes the door (enabling him to “approach her on the bed,” or whatever that means). She remembered both of these violent crimes only when she got fired.

The judges said Katsav’s testimony was riddled with lies. Doesn’t anyone wonder how they know? This same Aleph, after these two alleged rapes, sent him a sweet and sentimental new year’s letter. [The court dismissed the significance of the letter, finding that it had been written under duress - Ed.] I believe rapists are lower than low and that they should be punished according to the law. But why, with evidence of a letter like this, was the determination made that everything Katsav said was a lie and everything Aleph said was true?

MARCELLA WACHTEL

Jerusalem

Press too tough?

Sir, – A couple of centuries have elapsed since the world enacted public hangings. Even in some of the states in the US, where they still have and carry out the death penalty, executions are conducted inside prisons.

Moshe Katsav, a convicted criminal, belongs in jail. But the public hanging festival has been way out of line. Even The Jerusalem Post, whose editorials are usually well thought out, joined the baying pack by advocating the removal of Katsav’s bust from the garden at the President’s Residence (“Katsav's fall,” December 31). This reminds me too much of Stalin’s removal of Beria from the Soviet encyclopedia.

As usual, the public has gone over the top with this hanging party. I hope we can finally forgo all these shenanigans and seek justice once and for all.

THELMA JACOBSON
Petah Tikva

Sir, – When Moshe Katsav became president, he invited Machal volunteers – those who came from abroad to help Israel in the War of Independence – to a discussion at Beit Hanassi. He asked us whether we had ever been invited to the President’s Residence for Independence Day, where for many years on that day it had been a tradition to host soldiers and ex-soldiers and their families. We replied that we had never been invited.

He decided then and there that Machal representatives should be invited. And so it was.

I must add that since Katsav’s departure from the presidency, representatives of Machal have not been invited to Beit Hanassi on Independence Day.

In his sensitivity to Machal, I discern a very different person from the one that is currently appearing in the media.

MURRAY S. GREENFIELD
Tel Aviv

Lessons for us all

Sir, – Knesset members need a strong outside investigative panel of solid citizens to vet in the most professional manner candidates for president to ensure that the candidates’ records are peerless. Such a panel should enable the public to submit evidence, including anonymously.

It is no secret that ex-president Katsav’s track record was known to many in the country, but there was no framework in which they could act as whistle blowers.

MKs who voted for Katsav as president say today they had no idea about the incidents from his past or more recent behavior. Legislators who carry such a heavy responsibility in appointing a president should be eager to have a panel check out any candidate before the politicians start even to consider him.

DAVID GOSHEN
Kiryat Ono

Sir, – L’affaire Katsav appears to chime well in the media, in the Knesset and in Israeli society. It is universally hailed as a victory for democracy. But for which democracy? Katsav will sit, and we shall go free? What is the prognosis for we who created the monster? When he shows no remorse, is it any different that we do not? Surely we, too, must be held to account and, even more important, we must hold ourselves to account for contributing to the continuous stream of misdemeanors that we witness and participate in each day in our democratic society.

Who are we to judge? For better or for worse, Katsav is still one of us, and we are cut from the same cloth.

DR. PAUL BROWN
Kfar Vradim

One voice needed...

Sir, – Recently, many writers lauded our foreign minister (“Lieberman strikes a nerve,” December 30), asserting that his statements contradicting those of Prime Minister Netanyahu are factually correct.

This misses the larger issue of a cabinet minister’s responsibilities.

Lieberman had every right to state openly his opposition to government policy as head of his party, a member of Knesset or private citizen. But that right was limited when he became foreign minister. He has substantial input on policy decisions during cabinet meetings and private meetings with the prime minister.

Once the government’s policy is set, however, he is obliged to support and implement that policy to the best of his ability.

Public disagreement by a minister harms the state by confusing the outside world. The problem is exacerbated when Lieberman makes such statements to senior Israeli diplomats.

Since they are his subordinates, they can be expected to carry out his stated policies, even if they are at odds with those of the prime minister.

If Lieberman cannot in good conscience fulfill his role as foreign minister, he should be replaced by someone who will. At a time when Israel is engaged in delicate negotiations, the country cannot afford to have government members working at cross purposes.

EFRAIM A. COHEN
Zichron Ya’acov

...but whose?

Sir, – You acknowledge that “many” Israelis share Foreign Minister Lieberman’s “sentiments” in regard to Turkey and the prospect of peace in the near term (“Lieberman gives the PM no choice,” Editorial, December 28). It would be more accurate to say that, as recent polls show, a majority of Israelis share these thoughts.

SIDNEY HANDEL
Tel Aviv

Clean your own house

Sir, – Regarding“SOS: Selective Outrage Syndrome” (Fundamentally Freund, December 29), the writer says Mahmoud Abbas speaks like “American segregationists” when he says Palestine should “be empty of any Israeli presence.” But Abbas says “Israeli,” and certainly not a “Jewish” presence that accepts Palestinian citizenship and integration into the country’s society.

If Freund rejects this, he is the segregationist, not Abbas.

In Israel, there is a flourishing mindset that favors discriminatory loyalty oaths, decades-old JNF residential segregation, segregated school systems, and religious edicts and laws against Jewish Israelis who rent or sell property to, or marry Israeli Arabs.

Why shouldn’t we first worry about discrimination and segregationism in a land we love and defend?

JAMES ADLER

Cambridge, Massachusetts

CORRECTION
The photograph on Page 2 on December 6, of photographer Roni Sopher, was not as stated. We apologize for the error.

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