Analysis: Still the boy from Kastina

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January 25, 2007 01:01
4 minute read.

 
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Moshe Katsav reached out last night to another Israel in a desperate plea: I am one of you, a simple, honest family man, a believer in Jewish ideals. I also came from humble origins, the Kastina new immigrants transit camp in the Fifties, and, like you, I distrust the media, the police, the justice system and those corrupt Knesset members. Take me to your hearts, only you can believe me. I committed no wrong, save for the grave offense of trying to break down the walls that keep us, the sons and daughters of the other Israel, out of the circle of power. The president scolded his tormentors - the vampires of the press who have been drinking his blood for the last six months - and spoke directly to the people. Even if he seemed to be losing control during his 55-minute speech, his press advisers insisted that it had gone according to script, aside from the angry outburst at Channel 2's Gadi Sukeinik, the only journalist who tried to interrupt him with a question. "It might have seemed to you like a total failure," one of them said to reporters, "but he wasn't talking to you, he was facing the people." But not the entire people. Katsav was appealing to Israelis who fear a sinister alliance between the left-wing media, the elitist attorneys of the Justice Ministry, the corrupt police and the opportunist politicians. Katsav took care to push all the buttons and placed himself firmly on the side of the underdog when he said: "I saw myself as a symbol for all those who don't belong to the clique that is closed to others." Countering the charges of sexual assault, Katsav surrounded himself with family members. They escorted him to the hall and sat by his side throughout, in stark contrast to the licentiousness he accused his media enemies of. "I have guarded my family, the institute of marriage, for the last 37 years," he said. "You members of the press, many of you have not managed to keep your married life for so long." Katsav used the loaded phrase tikshoret oyenet (hostile press), usually heard only from haredi and ultra-right-wing activists against the "leftist" media. But that's far from being the worst insult he hurled at the reporters confronting him across the room. "Media lynch," "brainwash by the awful press," "irresponsible reporters and commentators who forsook their professional duty to check the facts and broke every single rule of ethics" are just a small selection. And to make it quite clear where the media's loyalty stood, he took Channel 2 to task for canceling an interview with him many months ago, preferring to interview former Palestinian Authority security chief Muhammad Dahlan instead. But of course why should anyone expect anything else from those leftists. Katsav also attacked the yefei nefesh - another pejorative term, this time for left-wing bleeding hearts - "who didn't raise their voices" and cry out against the president's persecution and the trampling of his basic rights. He accused the media of an evil connection to the police, which "was only interested in investigating the gossip," not the president's complaint of blackmail against him. He said the police constantly leaked against him to the press, as did Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz, who Katsav blamed for mismanaging the case from the start. And of course those MKs, who have been hounding him and calling for his resignation, "are all feeding from the press." Why are such "forces of evil" arrayed against the president? Katsav wonders. He knows the answer: "It hurt you that I was elected," he said, looking the press in the eye. And that's why, from the moment he was elected, "rumors have been spread throughout the land" and teams of investigative reporters "tried to dig up dirt from under the ground, going back as far as my second grade in the Kastina Transit Camp." Because that's where it all began, back then when the old Ashkenazi leadership sent the hundreds of thousand of Sephardi Jews to the muddy camps in the desolate uninhabited areas of the new state. And half a century later, the president of Israel is saying that nothing has changed, he is still that boy from Kastina and the powers that be are determined to send him back there. Katsav isn't the first disgraced politician to play this card. Shas leader Arye Deri did the same thing six and a half years ago when the Jerusalem District Court found him guilty of accepting bribes. He rushed to a recording studio and produced a 30-minute film in which he accused the law-and-order establishment of conspiring together with the media to do away with the young religious Morocco-born maverick who had threatened their cozy power sharing arrangements. Like Deri, Katsav took this path only when he realized he no longer had anything to lose. Aside from a few friends, lawyers and spin doctors, the entire establishment is just waiting for his fall. But all of you, who don't believe the perfidious media, who can see through all the lofty talk of civil rights, who are left out of the circles of influence and wealth, and understand that the law-and-order mafia are beholden to the left-wing Arab lovers, you must believe that President Moshe Katsav, the boy from Kastina, is telling the truth.

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