Reporter's Notebook: The anonymous walking dead

Unquestionably “S.D.” was a tragic figure, considered by many who knew him for a lifetime to be “Judas.”

EHUD OLMERT 370 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
The fact that the identity of the state’s main witness in the Holyland trial is still anonymous even after his death symbolizes who he was, or at least what was left of him by the time the trial came along.
One can debate the truth of many of his specific allegations, his innocence or guilt and the defendants’ innocence or guilt, but unquestionably “S.D.” was a tragic figure, considered by many who knew him for a lifetime to be “Judas.” For whatever reason: justice, money, a late-found conscience, revenge for perceived betrayal, here was a man who turned on all of the men who had been his friends, colleagues, employers, employees and allies for decades.
Even before his physical demise, he was the walking dead. When he walked across the courtroom for one of his periodic bathroom breaks, it seemed that his problems with walking were not only physical.
Here was a broken man. A few times this reporter made attempts at small talk with him as we passed in the hallway, not even asking any questions about the case, and the return gaze was one of abandonment and surprise.
Abandonment of any hope for redemption, happiness or ability to joke. Surprise that anyone had taken notice of him, as if the only reason anyone would take notice of him now was when he was on the witness stand.
One must remember that S.D. had a long history of health issues, and true or not, he testified that one of the reasons that brought him to eventually “tell the truth” about his former friends was that when he got sick and needed money to pay his medical bills, they abandoned him, deciding that he no longer had future value to them.
He also implied that one of the reasons he was “picked” to be the middleman who did all the “dirty work” allegedly connecting the wealthy bribers and their public sector bribees was that there was very little noteworthy about him.
He fit the bill for anonymity and moving under the radar of the authorities, who incidentally never caught him – he came to them, or they probably never would have noticed.
There were only two kinds of eye contact between S.D. and the defendants in the case: none whatsoever and fully aroused red-eyed vengeful fury.
The defendants for their part related to S.D.
also in only two ways: mostly they ridiculed him and laughed at him, his charges, his contradictions, his confusion and his long-winded manner. They also on occasion got angry and yelled out in response to charges he made they felt were too close to home, sometimes at the cost of a rebuke by the court to remain quiet during S.D.’s testimony.
No witness likes to be called a liar. But when S.D.
was called a liar, he fumed, his voice rose and he seemed to physically react as if he had been stabbed.
Here was a man who, at least taken at his word, spent his life breaking and bending the law and getting others to do so.
He usually seemed to imply that he thought himself beyond redemption, but still would feel better about himself having finally told the truth and cleansed the state of all of his allegedly corrupt former allies.
As much as he was confusing to follow, he relished the details of zoning and legal minutiae, sometimes turning the tables on crossexamining attorneys and patting himself on the back that he would still outsmart all of his opposition.
Now that he is gone, S.D. will remain eternally somewhat anonymous and a mystery.
Even if and when his identity is revealed, possibly soon, it will be after the fact, in an afterthought that will not impact the case or much of his image.
When being eulogized by his daughter, he was still anonymous publicly.
It will be sometime before the country will be able to decide whether to thank S.D. for cleansing the ranks of public service or putting the country through an unnecessary and pointless traumatic drama.
But for this broken and plagued caricature of a man, he has probably finally found some peace.