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Good people, have pity. Try to save what is left of this country's dignity and close the case against President Moshe Katsav so that he will leave the President's Residence and go home. After that, close it down. We need neither a president nor a residence. And throw the key away.
The honor, standing and prestige of the State of Israel is being trampled underfoot in a manner unprecedented since the establishment of the state. A number of its senior politicians have been indicted on criminal charges, its political management - not leadership, that is nonexistent - is trying to save its hide with the Lieberman maneuver, and exceedingly serious criminal charges are very likely soon to be pressed against the person who is supposed to serve as the symbol of the state - its president. Although the president has denied everything, he may very soon find himself facing these charges in a court of law, having to listen to testimonies from women who allege that they fell victim to indecent acts and/or sexual harassment at his hands.
These women have already received their pound of flesh in the form of the humiliation and indignity being heaped upon President Katsav, in both the interrogations and headlines. Perhaps it is time now for a little compassion - for the state, its dignity, the symbol that is the president and the dignity of these women themselves. The key is in their hands.
What will they achieve by having the president tried in open court? After all, they too will be stripped bare alongside the president, to his shame.
That is why as much as they want to satisfy their desire for revenge, the victims should set in motion some form of amnesty or whatever legal term they like - I am no legal expert - to put an end to this shameful scandal.
IT WAS in that very same President's Residence that our finest jurists and governmental ministers concocted pardons for the Shin Bet murderers and liars who were involved in the Bus 300 terrorist hijacking affair in 1984. Two years later, they were granted comprehensive amnesty with the approval and encouragement of the honorable late president Chaim Herzog. Numerous highly placed Israelis beat a path to his door to arrange a plea bargain so that the Shin Bet chief and his men would not have to go to prison on charges of murder and obstruction of justice.
So with that in mind and despite all the many differences between the two cases, isn't there any way of getting the president out of the President's Residence without having to drag the institution of the presidency through any more mud?
Perhaps if the plaintiffs in the case were to initiate some kind of step to end the process, they would very likely find partners among the State Prosecution and an ocean of judges and lawyers and public figures who would support some kind of deal that would end the miserable affair once and for all and send President Katsav packing as fast as possible and back to Kiryat Malachi.
Why is it that so many feminists and distinguished figures rushed to the defense of former justice minister Haim Ramon, lambasting the State Prosecution for pressing sexual harassment charges against him, whereas where Katsav is concerned, the very same people automatically assume that he is as guilty as charged? Shulamit Aloni went out of her way to defend Ramon in an impassioned speech on the very day his trial began.
In other words, the impression one gets is that pornography is a matter of political geography: Ramon is a liberal from Kadima, one of "ours," so he must be innocent, even without a trial. President Katsav, on the other hand, comes from the Likud - so his guilt is a foregone conclusion. This is a blatant injustice.
AFTER A legal means has been found to close the president's rape case, we need to set about closing down the President's Residence. It is one of many wasteful official state facilities.
The status of the presidency has deteriorated steadily since its modest, dignified days of 30 to 50 years ago. We can still recall the extravagant trips taken by Chaim Herzog as well as Ezer Weizman's financial escapades.
The millions of shekels that go each year into the operation of the doll house known as the President's Residence is a shameful waste that could be used benefit the educational or welfare systems. The president's speeches, usually written by paid speech writers, are dull as ditch water and have been for years now. As for the visits to the bereaved families, there are plenty of ministers that can carry out this role, from the prime minister down.
The entire representative institution known as the president and his overinflated staff is an experiment that failed.
Now we are told that Shimon Peres is chomping at the bit in anticipation of the next presidential race. That's all we need. Electing him president would in fact mean appointing a second prime minister with an agenda of his own, one who would serve as such, while Israel currently has no real leadership worthy of the name.
What's the rush to elect a president? First, we need a properly functioning government.