(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Deep as they are in the eye of the storm, President Moshe Katsav and his wife Gila aroused further controversy on Monday by holding the traditional Succot open house at Beit Hanassi.
Hundreds queued up to shake Katsav's hand and to offer words of support for their beleaguered president, expressing their belief in his innocence and assurance that his honesty and righteousness would prevail.
Several public figures have come out against the president hosting the public in the presidential succa, considering the nature of the allegations against him, and the wide coverage that these allegations have received in the media.
The Central Association of Rape Crisis Centers has called for a boycott of the event and has asked visitors to Jerusalem to forfeit the opportunity of visiting the president s succa this year.
Sharon Mayevski, a spokeswoman for the association, said that despite the fact that five thousand people pass through the gates of Beit Hanassi on this occasion every year, it was not seemly for someone entrusted with the position of President to hold an open house and to continue with business as usual while under police investigation for such serious crimes.
"If I were a mother of children," she said, "I would think twice about the educational message I would be conveying by allowing my children to go and meet this man. If a similar complaint was lodged against a school teacher, every mother would keep her child away from school if that teacher were to continue teaching."
Women from the group demonstrated outside Beit Hanassi, calling on Katsav to suspend himself.
On Sunday, some of the women said they would try to enter the premises so they could tell him face-to-face that he should not be receiving the public.
Mayevski could not pinpoint what might happen in this respect but expressed the hope that the demonstration would be dignified.
"Many people think that feminists are all radicals," she said. "We re not, and we want to get that message across."
Other women's organizations have not responded to the association's call, she said, although there were some individual women who indicated their
support and would probably participate in the demonstration.
Beit Hanassi spokeswoman Hagit Cohen declined to comment on the matter.