Counterpoint: Three little pigs

The prayer 'Blessed are You, God, for not making me a woman' takes on new meaning.

By DAVID J. FORMAN
August 2, 2007 14:00
4 minute read.

 
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It has been more than a month since the State Attorney's Office and Moshe Katsav's lawyers concluded their plea bargain. For some reason, I am still troubled by what happened. I am obsessed with the whole affair. I cannot put it out of mind. I think about it day and night, which is strange for me as I am not a compulsive individual. So why am I so bothered? Could it be that first Yitzhak Mordechai, then Haim Ramon and now Katsav were treated with kid gloves for various sexual abuses against women? Maybe I am so troubled because, as a religious individual, I anticipated a response from the spiritual guardians of our moral welfare - the Chief Rabbinate. Yet, this symbol of rectitude has remained incomprehensibly silent, abdicating its moral authority. Then again, perhaps it's something far more personal, like being a very protective father of four daughters? Our infamous threesome exploited their positions to subjugate women much younger than they are, against their will, to receive sexual favors. They did so by applying physical force, whether it is thrusting a tongue down "A's" throat, groping another "A" on a couch or allegedly raping a third "A" - all to satisfy their sexual perversions. These are high crimes, deserving prison time. And yet, each one walks the streets freely; in one case resuming his duties in the government, which implicates all of us as co-conspirators for his act of sexual abuse. Meanwhile, their victims are imprisoned by the psychological traumas that will remain with them for the rest of their lives. THE REASONING goes that these men have suffered enough by the public humiliation they have undergone. Two out of three have sacrificed their lofty political influence and positions, but not their comfortable government or military pensions, for which we, the taxpayers, are responsible - another form of complicity on our part for their illicit behavior. More to the point, judicial deals, political considerations and military protectionism worked their magic to cover up the extent of these men's crimes. There is little consideration for the humiliation of their victims, which is far more searing, as they became helpless objects of physical abuse. Their bodies were violated, their dignity compromised, their self-image impaired, their emotional well-being destabilized and their truthfulness doubted. In the Israel of today, it is not enough that women suffer abuses; we rub their noses in it. We claim that contradictory statements by women who have been sexually assaulted raise doubts regarding their honesty - even if they pass polygraph tests, while their abusers refuse to take them. Anyone who has dealt with victims of sexual abuse knows that the psychological trauma they have experienced may cloud their exact recollection of what happened, but not the essential veracity of what happened. Does one expect a woman to take notes while being sexually assaulted? TO POUR more salt on their wounds, our prime minister, with the approval of his entire cabinet and virtually every Knesset member, appointed Haim Ramon as our nation's vice-premier. They all may just as well have spit in the face of Ramon's sacrificial lamb. Although not held accountable for the full extent of their sexual urges, these men were still found guilty of indecent acts. But "the unjust knows no shame" (Zephaniah 3:5). None of them has shown remorse for lying to the public, expressed sincere regret for their heinous behavior and, worst of all, barely offered an apology to their victims. Is there no compensation for the nightmare these women endured? Is there something endemic in the Jewish historical experience that warrants such a demeaning attitude toward women? Are we incapable of erasing the Adam and Eve fable from our consciousness, whereby all women are stained by the sultry and alluring temptations of Eve? Perhaps the reason can be summed up in the daily prayer: "Blessed are You, God, for not making me a woman." One can understand this heavenly supplication: We men are truly grateful for not being created a woman because as a woman we might suffer the unbearable ordeal of being raped. Domestic violence and physical abuse against women are alarmingly on the rise in this country. Shelters for battered women cannot accommodate the number of applicants seeking refuge. Therefore, we are compelled to ask ourselves: Are we a macho society? The abuses against women committed by our former justice minister, defense minister and president, along with the judicial forces in the country that are so forgiving when convicting them, provide the answer: a resounding "Yes." Let's face it, Israeli men have been accurately labeled as male-chauvinist pigs. But, I suggest that we skip over the male-chauvinist adjective and go directly to the noun: pig. The dictionary defines a pig as a "swine," a "brute," a "rat" and a "beast." We Jews were taunted to eat pork by historical anti-Semites. They knew that for us to do so would be the ultimate violation of all that we believed in, because not only does a pig designate an unkosher animal, it represents that which contradicts all the commandments of our tradition - both ritual and moral. The despicable behavior of our three pigs violated the basic ethical tenets of Judaism, and, because we, the citizenry, have tolerated such behavior for too long, we have become silent partners in the debasement and degradation of the female population.

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