Moshe Katsav
Former President Moshe Katsav arrives to hear the verdict in his rape trial at Tel Aviv District Court, December 30, 2010. Photo by Tal Cohen

The president of the State of Israel is a symbol. A symbol of what we are and what we are supposed to be.

Israel has had better presidents and it has had worse presidents. But from Chaim Wiezmann to Ezer Weizman, each president has symbolized a different aspect of our lives: science, values, education, Judaism, statesmanship and public responsibility.

The same is true of the eighth president. The rapist president, Moshe Katsav, is a symbol of the depths to which the national leadership of the State of Israel has sunk in the first decade of the 21st century.

One could be forgiven for thinking that Israel has seen it all: a finance minister behind bars, a interior minister locked up and a health minister incarcerated. A prime minister suspected of several counts of corruption.

But this is something that we never even dreamed of. We hear the words “the rapist president,” but our ears refuse to believe.

It is still inconceivable that the president forced himself upon women in a most violent manner. Moshe Katsav has brought us to the lowest place we could ever imagine. He has brought unspeakable disgrace not only on himself, but on the country that he served as president.

But along with this disgrace, there is also a certain measure of pride. Moshe Katsav is not the first head of state to have committed vile acts against women. But no other country has taken such strident action against its criminal leaders as Israel did with Katsav.

There were many twists and turns along the way. Many mistakes were made. But in the end, in its own way, the Israeli legal system has proved itself. What started out as a complaint of extortion against the president ended up as a unanimous conviction on two counts of rape, sexual harassment and obstruction of justice.

In the past couple of years, a dangerous trend has started to take root in Israel. Many good people are convinced that the police and the state prosecutors are enemies of the people. Many good people are convinced that the law enforcement authorities are not allowing our rulers to rule and our government to govern. The Katsav case should open their eyes.

If the police and the state prosecution had not done their jobs so admirably, Moshe Katsav would still be a respected citizen today. If Menachem Mazuz had not shown courage when he was attorney general, Moshe Katsav would today be a serious contender to serve as prime minister.

Once again, it has been proven that, despite its many faults and flaws, the legal system is what keeps the State of Israel from descending into an abyss of immorality.

In most cases, public denunciation is an ugly thing. It can fan the flames of violence and can often fall into the trap of rabble-rousing and public lynching. In the case of Katsav, however, it is entirely justified.

Be gone, Moshe Katsav! In the name of the women you assaulted − be gone! There can be no forgiveness for despicable men like you. There can be no tolerance toward wretched men like you. You place in history is assured, Moshe Katsav. You will always be remembered as the disgusting person who brought us to the lowest point in our history − a point from which we can only rise.