January 25: Benefit of the doubt

I am disgusted with the way President Katsav has been treated over many months.

letters good 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
letters good 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Benefit of the doubt Sir, - I am disgusted with the way President Katsav has been treated over many months, and totally disagree with your editorial ("Katsav should resign," January 24). He has not yet been indicted, but you state that is to happen. Yet you go on to write that the attorney-general, in his letter to President Katsav, says he is open to being convinced in hearings to withhold an indictment. Inside the paper you report that the attorney-general has also decided, contrary to the police recommendation, to close the file regarding allegations that the president was involved in sexual misconduct toward a fifth woman. If he can close the file on that serious charge, it is quite possible the president could be acquitted of all charges. You quite rightly say that he is innocent until proven guilty - but are you giving him any benefit of the doubt? MICHAEL PLASKOW Netanya Sir, - Let's assume Moshe Katsav is completely innocent. Still, how could he not have put the country first and resigned so he could devote himself to clearing his name as a private citizen? YEHIEL METZGER Beit Shemesh Let the experts do it Sir, - Thanks to Rabbi Avi Shafran for helping to make Israelis aware of the JTA series on clergy sexual abuse ("What the rabbi said," Letters, January 24). I am not aware that any Israeli newspaper or magazine has published the series, entitled "Reining in abuse." It's time for all of us to face the reality of how cases of sexual violence have been mishandled and covered up in all streams of Judaism. The Awareness Center's goal is to prevent one more person from becoming the next victim of a sex crime. The only way things will ever change is via awareness, education and the implementation of new policies. We must demand that our rabbis report all cases of suspected sexual violence to law enforcement instead of handling them alone. To this day I have not met one rabbi with any training in collecting forensic evidence, or in conducting a victim-sensitive interview. Until this changes, these cases need to be handled by those with the proper education, experience and knowledge. They are not cases for a synagogue, school, camp or beit din to be handling. VICKI POLIN Executive Director The Awareness Center, Inc. Jewish Coalition Against Sexual Abuse/Assault Baltimore Gender equality Sir, - Ruth Eglash's "Advantage - mothers?" (January 23) was fascinating and disturbing. Women worldwide have fought for, and made large strides toward, equality. But Dr. Ruth Halperin-Kaddari, chairwoman of the Rackman Center for the Advancement of the Status of Women, complains that the by now inevitable movement toward equality between fathers and mothers is an "alarming development." She sees it as a mischievous plot, "part of a growing trend in the direction of using a new rhetoric of gender equality." But who brought about, and spread with gusto, that rhetoric if not women's movements, which rightly strove to improve women's social status? It is saddening that now the battle has largely been won, some women decline to assume responsibility for all its implications. Claiming, in 2007, that "the concept of gender equality presented in Western countries has no place in today's Israel" is shocking. More to the point, striving for equality between fathers and mothers should be on the agenda of women's movements that truly wish to free women from obsolete stereotypes. GIDEON A. BRAUDE Jerusalem Expanding ADI Sir, - As the long-time owner of an ADI organ donor card I am fully aware of its importance ("Transplant shortage? Get radical," Jeremy Maissel, January 17). I believe that many do not join out of inertia. Instead of it being an option when you receive your driving license renewal form, what about making joining automatic on receiving the form - with the option of crossing it out if you don't agree? RUTH GREENWALD Givatayim Planning on miracles Sir, - The government of Israel believes in not planning until confronted by the need for action. How else could it uproot almost 10,000 people from their homes in 2005 and not make provision for where they might be going until 2007? ("PM promotes Lachish region as new home for Gaza evacuees," January 24). Even Lachish - "the government of Israel's vision," according to Ehud Olmert - will be able to absorb only some of the 10,000. Our governments appear to plan on the basis that miracles occur daily in Israel; but woe to the day when the miracle does not occur, as it did not for the people of Gush Katif, for the war in Lebanon, and for the selection of ministers in charge of the state's vital needs. TOBY WILLIG Jerusalem Yes to a regional deal Sir, - Thanks to the Post for Collete Avital's "Say yes to the Saudi peace plan" (January 24). Negotiations based on the Saudi and Arab League plan could isolate and serve as a large regional counterweight to Iran, as well as putting overwhelming pressure on Syria, Hizbullah and Hamas to get into step with the rest of the Arab League. It is precisely the present pessimistic atmosphere that gives Iran, Hizbullah, Hamas and regional extremism in general the green light to grow in strength and numbers, and act with impunity. And yet the region as a whole wants to act moderately. A regional deal which worked out over the long term would bring security to Israel, and could also reduce and eventually eliminate extremism. By simply trying, what could Israel have to lose? Also, should Israel continue to say no to the offer until Iran - or growing extremism, born of frustration - eventually makes it too late ever again to say yes? JAMES ADLER Cambridge, Massachusetts Lesson for all Sir, - So HOT has backed down, and we will continue to enjoy BBC Prime ("HOT keeps BBC Prime," January 24). Therein lies an important lesson: If you fight hard enough and smart enough, it is possible to win. We Israelis never protest enough. Now let's take on some of the really important things like exorbitant bank fees and the unpaid municipal workers. We can do it because we have. R. RAUCHWERGER Ramat Gan Sir, - I received a phone call from HOT saying that the director of the company had, in light of the campaign mounted, decided to retain BBC Prime. Without doubt, the publicity the Post gave to the issue helped enormously. GLORIA MOUND Gan Yavne Enjoying you Sir, - I appreciate The Jerusalem Post for publishing letters outside its local readership (Letter, January 24). I am approaching 300 different publications of my letters that mostly, in the last 18 months, have promoted health while demoting tobacco and its evil agents. (Sad, but tobacco continues to have a stranglehold on our life in America.) I am so thankful that you published two of my letters last year. I become very concerned about the ethics of a newspaper when it only accepts local letters. Now I enjoy reading the thoughts and opinions daily in the Post to learn about life in Israel. MIKE SAWYER Birmingham, Alabama