(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Am I the only woman in Israel not prepared to join the lynch mob baying for the blood of Moshe Katsav? He may well have been serially unfaithful to his wife, and that is for him and his wife to resolve between them. Katsav may well, for all we know, have been a bottom-pinching leech.
But, based on "Aleph"s own words, I cannot see how he could possibly have been her rapist.
In her press conference, she graphically described her dreadful ordeal of rape. "He then thrust me against his desk, gripped my hands to the table, removed my pants and committed a full sexual act."
Unless Katsav actually has three hands, or used his teeth to remove her pants it can't be done. Many of us would have been interested to hear how exactly the rape was performed. If Katsav comes to trial, can we look forward to the prosecution bringing a contortionist to prove that it is possible?
According to "Aleph," Katsav requested her to wear skirts and no underwear to the office. He did not, nor could he have, forced her to comply. "Aleph," who has throughout the whole sad and sordid affair courted publicity, despite her apparent anonymity, is now saying that if Katsav is not tried for rape, it will discourage other women from speaking out.
But she didn't speak out; at least not at the time, and not after either, until she allegedly made her blackmail attempt. Only when Katsav approached the attorney-general concerning this attempted blackmail and Menachem Mazuz, or someone in his office, leaked the matter to the press and the police became involved, did "Aleph" make her allegations.
SEEMINGLY she valued her job, the status it conferred and the salary that it paid too much to just up and quit, when she was under such pressure that she was unable to confide even in her mother. Allegedly, she was prepared to forget the whole thing on payment of an undisclosed sum, until her bluff was called.
In other words, she was prepared to put up with Katsav's alleged behavior for the benefits it bestowed; and there is a word for that.
"Aleph" has stated that she handed the state the head of the president on a golden platter. This shrinking violet, who was too frightened, intimidated and cowed to speak out or resist while being sexually harassed by a big powerful man, manages to lose all inhibitions while standing in front of a crowd of women, or when tearfully basking in the limelight of media scrutiny.
Other women, previously employed by Katsav, have felt moved by "Aleph"s declarations to come forward with their own versions of how they had to cope with Katsav's seemingly insatiable sexual appetite. That these may be beyond the statute of limitations speaks for how long ago these incidents are said to have occurred. Yet not a whisper reached the ears of anyone during the run-up to the presidential elections, when Katsav defeated now president-elect Shimon Peres.
(Peres, with his always impeccable hindsight, was prepared to say that he had heard rumors but, being the perfect gentleman, did not want to bring them into the open and thus prejudice his rival's chances.)
As the Post's Anshel Pfeffer wrote in his column on June 28: "A bitter saga culminates in yet another national rift."
But his conclusions are faulty. The rift doesn't run along the line of the Ashkenazi elite, against the working-class Sephardim. It runs between thinking folk, prepared to keep an open mind and presume innocence until guilt is proven, and those who let themselves be swayed into mass hysteria at the thought of the innocent, inexperienced girls on whom Katsav is alleged to have preyed.
PERSONALLY, I think it is a shame that in order to spare his wife, Gila, his family and, indeed, the country the squalid ordeal of a long trial, Katsav has agreed to a plea bargain.
I too hope Katsav has his day in court, but only if he gets what every citizen is entitled to - a fair trial; not if the outcome of the trial is a foregone conclusion, meant to placate feminist politics.
Perhaps, under questioning, the various letters of the alphabet would enlightened us as to the whys and wherefores of their inexplicable silence prior to, at the time of, and subsequent to the alleged attacks - until brave "Aleph" broke the conspiracy of silence.
Katsav may be guilty. But until that is a proven verdict, I for one will consider him innocent.
The writer is based in Jerusalem.
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