letters to the editor 88.
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Sir, - In accepting a plea bargain, the attorney-general has established a dangerous precedent. In the future, any person charged with rape will plead for the same consideration the outgoing president received. Accusations of rape will be demoted to sexual harassment.
If anybody is not pulling their weight in the present circumstances, it is the women's organizations. They are protesting, but not loud enough and not long enough. They should circulate petitions calling on the attorney-general to resign; they should pitch tents outside the Ministry of Justice and go on hunger strikes.
And where is the Likud Party - why hasn't it denounced one of its members? ("Outrage as Katsav gets suspended term," June 29.)
Sir, - As an average Israeli citizen, I want to know: If I committed the same crimes as President Katsav has been accused of, would I receive the same treatment as accorded him by the attorney-general?
Sir, - Perhaps Moshe Katsav took his cue from Milloecker's operetta The Beggar Student: "Alas, I only kissed her on her shoulder"?
Sir, - The attorney-general must step down and the ex-president of Israel must go to jail. It really is simple mathematics. Women all over the world who want to make aliya are watching this case very closely. In North America women have come a long way since being known as second-class citizens.
Israel, I think it is high time you paid more than lip service to women's rights. Going easy on someone who has been accused of rape, no matter who he or she is, lowers Israel's credibility in human rights and raises a red flag to people wanting to immigrate to Israel.
Sir, - There was definitely a lynch atmosphere at the rally against the plea bargain Menahem Mazuz offered Moshe Katsav. Had Katsav been present, I wonder whether he would have escaped with his life.
It is ironic that the organizations that stand for democracy and good government deny an accused's basic right to be considered innocent until proven guilty. According to many of the signs, the crowd had already condemned Katsav as a rapist.
It is by no means certain that the state would have won its case against the president. Katsav's lawyers appear to have found enough contradictions in the complainants' testimony to demolish their credibility.
Sir, - Rather than rant and rave at the plea bargain struck between the legal authorities and Mr. Katsav, it must now be clear to women's groups that rape victims can expect no justice from the police; so maybe they should understand the real message of the affair: In the absence of hard evidence it is extremely difficult to prove rape.
Women's groups should be using this time to impress upon women what they should do if, Heaven forbid, they are raped: Go immediately to a hospital emergency room, alone if need be, and report it there. RNs are trained to deal with such cases, and the evidence that counts can be obtained on the spot.
No names need be given at this juncture, and the victim is given time and support to come to herself. Reports to the police can come after. However, the evidence will have been secured. Without it the case boils down to her word against his, and a possible miscarriage of justice ("Thousands demand that case go to trial," July 1).
Sir, - Report rape immediately. With modern forensic tools, guilt or innocence can be proven. New medical techniques protect victims and those mistakenly accused, while identifying perpetrators. This is the lesson parents, schools, the legal system and women's advocates must teach our daughters.
SARA LEE WOOLF
Sir, - "We almost had to use force to persuade the president to plead guilty," said Katsav's attorney, Avigdor Feldman (June 29).
What utter rubbish. Katsav, who maintained he never had sex with any woman, should have told his attorney: I will stand trial. Had he been found not guilty on all charges, kol hakavod. Found guilty, he could still say, "Only I and my Creator know the truth."
But with a plea bargain, which saves him years behind bars, and his admission that he did have sex, Katsav is shown up as a liar of the first order.
Rape is a criminal act, and seeing justice done supersedes what the world may think of Israel.
Sir, - As a specialist in the psychology of physical medicine and rehab, I am repelled by the simplistic approach of our esteemed female MKs and revered jurists, who state that trying Moshe Katsav will send a message to other potential rapists that no sexual offender is immune to prosecution. Would that the cure for sexual disorders were so simple!
Kudos to Meni Mazuz. His approach to Katsav's alleged acts of rape is sane and intelligent.
Mr. Katsav may be guilty or not; but falling from grace, being excluded from politics and bringing shame upon his family is - for a boy from the ma'abarot who achieved the recognition most only dream of - is punishment enough.
A show trial to appease blood lust is a waste of time and money, and an embarrassment Israel can ill afford.
Sir, - To this writer, who has an American background of some 40 years as a trial lawyer in the United States, the protestations of the attorney-general that he doubted his ability to get a conviction against the president because of a weakness in the state's case rang a bit hollow.
For example, "Aleph" stated that the president called her at her home early in the morning on numerous occasions. Were his phone bills examined to see if this was true?
There were eight or 10 similar complaints by other women. The statutes of limitation do not preclude their testimony as mere witnesses in a rape trial. In a case where there was such strong supporting evidence of similar acts, why scoff at "Aleph"s evidence?
Sir, - Your analyses of the Katsav-Mazuz controversy left little to the imagination. I believe we can conclude that Mr. Mazuz understood the ramifications of his decision, one that no doubt will haunt him for years to come. It might even be said that Mazuz, in his final deliberations, concluded that justice would not be served if justice were indeed done.
Could the real tragedy be that Mazuz may have been right?
TED S. KRAMINER
Sir, - I have a stomachache from disgust at what has taken place. But my nausea surely does not begin to compare with the pain of "Aleph," the complainant who doesn't even appear in the recently struck "deal."
Mazuz said something about protecting the honor of the presidency. The presidency has already been besmirched. Katsav has seen to that. And he has admitted to it. But the rape charges brought by Aleph have been "disappeared." Gone. Invisible. Rather like the punishment Katsav will receive. It, too, will be invisible; unlike Aleph's tangible anguish and revulsion.
Sir, - Considering the events of the past few days, I can fully appreciate why one of the first prayers said each morning by religious Jewish men is: "Blessed are you, O Lord our God, King of the Universe, for not having made me a woman."
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