"Post" readers weigh in on Katsav editorial

Former president of Israel Moshe Katsav (photo credit: REUTERS)
Former president of Israel Moshe Katsav
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Your May 3 editorial “Katsav’s pardon” stresses his refusal to own up to the damage he has done to his female victims.
When the former president of the State of Israel is the perpetrator, we must regard with equal or even greater importance the degradation of his lofty office and the shame Katsav has brought to the people of Israel.
No light unto the nations is Katsav.
What if Moshe Katsav is actually saying the truth? Why this blind faith in a judicial system that has decided to believe one version over another? I do not know what happened behind closed doors, but neither do you nor the court. I do know that then-attorney-general Meni Mazuz was willing to keep Katsav out of prison by having him plead guilty on charges of sexual harassment and step down from the presidency in June 2007. I am tempted to believe that the public outcry influenced the court to eventually convict Katsav on charges of rape in 2010.
I am not suggesting that our justice system is flawed. I am just not convinced it is perfect.
Judges are human beings and they can err just like any of us, especially when the public is convinced that the accused must be guilty. If that were the case, why should Katsav express regret for a crime he did not commit? I think that four years of imprisonment is long enough for a man who has served his country with devotion for many years and might actually be innocent of the despicable crime he has been convicted of.
I, for one, certainly hope President Reuven Rivlin will grant him the pardon he deserves.
Your editorial is specious and mean-spirited.
The basis for the reasoning of the editorial, advising President Reuven Rivlin to not pardon ex-president Moshe Katsav is that the former president deserves no mercy or compassion because he denies he committed rape (that it was consensual); because if he is released, he “remains a danger to society”; and because we must “consider the feelings of that person’s victim.”
That’s absurd! Katsav is 70 years old and has nothing better to do than run around and harass “A” and attack “future victims”? As far as considering the feelings of “A”, how does The Jerusalem Post know that in three years, she will feel justice has been sufficiently served? Perhaps Mr. Katsav’s sentence should be extended to life, or perhaps even execution? Humaneness, kindness, mercy and compassion should be extended even to a former MK and president who spent a lifetime serving this country with dignity and pride. The opprobrium that resulted in his conviction and imprisonment is punishment enough! ROBERT DUBLIN Jerusalem You suggest that Moshe Katsav’s behavior was “a misguided search to meet his need for sexual intimacy.” I think not.
If he were interested in sexual intimacy, he had a loyal wife who had apparently stood by him through the years. I believe he is a narcissist who feels entitled to rape women and imagine they cannot resist his charm; has a grandiose sense of self-importance; is interpersonally exploitative; lacks impulse control or empathy; and seeks power, particularly over women.
His lack of empathy is probably why he cannot imagine the harm he has caused others.
Being 70 will not affect Katsav’s narcissism, eliminate his grandiosity or make him empathic and less of a danger, particularly if being in prison has had no impact.
The writer has a PhD and is a clinical psychologist.
Your editorial was very perturbing.
Some years ago, while traveling by car from Tel Aviv to Haifa, an officer in the police force gave a lift to a young woman. When he got to Netanya, he drove to the police station and charged the woman with propositioning him. The woman denied the charges and claimed it was he who had propositioned her, that she had refused and, out of revenge, he was accusing her of the crime.
Who was telling the truth? The women’s organizations were baying for the officer’s blood. The court of public opinion was divided. When a few days later it became known that the woman in question was married and a student at Haifa University, the unanimous view was that the officer was the one who was lying. But a couple of weeks later, a Tel Aviv resident came forward and said that the woman in question was a prostitute and that he had availed himself of her services and paid for them by check. The case against the officer collapsed.
Had this man not come forward, the officer, in all probability, would have been sent to prison. After having served twothirds of his sentence, the parole board would have denied his request for early release, saying: “Before us is a prisoner who denies that he committed the crimes, who continues to claim his innocence despite the court’s decision.”
Had you written an editorial, it probably would have said: “In order to prevent further damage to his victim, the convicted sex offender should remain in prison.”
No human court is infallible.
Innocent people have been sent to prison. Had the police officer been prepared to lie and confess to a crime he did not commit, he would have been awarded an early release.
If I may be permitted to add a personal note, I hold no truck for sex offenders and believe that they should be punished with the full force of the law.
But having said that, we should not fall into the trap of Soviet- style justice, in which the crime of an accused was considered so severe that he was found guilty even without a trial.
DAVID STEINHART Petah Tikva I find it hard to understand the reasoning behind the parole board’s refusal of former president Moshe Katsav’s request for early release – unless it was unduly swayed by the baying mobs of women who made their opinions heard so loudly from outside the courtroom during all the court sittings, in itself an obvious interference in the administration of justice and a lack of confidence in the expertise of the judges to make a correct decision.
The published reason given, that Katsav “continues to claim his innocence despite the court’s decisions” and “has not expressed regret,” is outrageous on two counts.
First, as there was no confession, no forensic evidence or no independent witness, no one in the world knows what actually happened except for Katsav and his accuser. The court has an obligation to decide whom to believe, and Katsav’s fate quite rightly depends on its decision.
But this does not make a fact, only a legal statement.
I wonder whether, had he subsequently “confessed,” Katsav’s detractors would claim he had lied to the court and should now be sentenced for perjury! Second, and more important, both the sentencing and the appeals courts surely took into consideration the claim of innocence and lack of regret. Had Katsav confessed and entered a plea bargain, his sentence would have been significantly shorter and he would have been out of prison long before now.
Having received the full sentence nevertheless, he should now be released for good behavior, just as criminals convicted of even more heinous crimes are released earlier than scheduled.