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
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.
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
“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?
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.
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
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
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
In his sensitivity to Machal, I discern a very
different person from the one that is currently appearing in the
MURRAY S. GREENFIELD
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.
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
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
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
This misses the larger issue of a cabinet minister’s
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
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.
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.
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
If Freund rejects this, he is the segregationist, not
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
The photograph on Page 2
on December 6, of photographer Roni Sopher, was not as stated. We apologize for