Katzav - Alon Ron
Former President Moshe Katsav Photo by Alon Ron
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In a few hours from now, former president and convicted rapist Moshe Katsav will be sentenced. Of course, it would have been easier to react to the sentence after the fact, rather than argue with it ahead of time. But still, regardless of the severity of the punishment, this moment marks a turning point in Israeli public life, if not worldwide.

It is impossible to overstate the importance and seriousness of the moment when the authorities finally decided to investigate the accusations of rape and indecent acts against the person who was then serving as president - in other words, a public figure whose job it is to represent me, you and several million other people. People who we also have to hope are not rapists, sexual harassers, pedophiles or any other garden variety of deviant.

It is also impossible to exaggerate the atrociousness of the fact that the person selected for the country's most exalted position was found guilty on all counts. Had Katsav not stood trial, the fish would have rot from the head down, and his talented attorneys would have succeeded, heaven forfend, in turning their client into a model for those authority figures looking to continue to exercise their power improperly, and exploit what they consider the jus primae noctis, "the right of the first night." The existence of various Katsavs, from Moshe to Silvio (Berlusconi, who at least paid a lot of money for his deviancies ), prove the need to continue the feminist struggle.

This is further evinced by the letter of encouragement written to Katsav by dozens of rabbis, in which they told him that in their eyes he is not only innocent, but also a courageous fighter. And not only was Katsav appointed to his position with Rabbi Ovadia Yosef's blessing, other rabbis added insult to injury when they came to the aid of a rapist (perhaps because they see what lies in store when one of their disciples dares to complain, as they complained about Moti Elon ). In a country where religious coercion is gradually spreading, the fact that rabbis still consider a woman the property of a man holds great significance.

Katsav's excellent lawyers said his punishment should be lenient because the trial and the exposure have already caused him a great deal of damage. But the rabbis' letter, along with the uncompromising and incomprehensible support for Katsav on the part of his wife Gila and the members of her family, and the numerous photo ops he provides when he walks calmly to the synagogue in holiday garb, prove just the opposite. The claims about his contribution over the years to Israeli society are nonsense. At most, Katsav worked for his household and himself.

"How much wickedness," attorney Haim Misgav said accusingly, when I voiced the counterargument on a television program - to the effect that Katsav's contribution placed a great deal of destructive power in his hands. Anyone who has mercy on the cruel will end up being cruel to the merciful, both male and female. After all, there are tens of thousands of women and men walking among us who have never filed complaints against those who attacked or harassed them, because they are afraid of the cruelty of the police, the court and the chauvinistic society in which we live.

From a position of far less authority, and for lesser accusations, Hanan Goldblatt - neither a president nor a leader of society, at most a former actor - was sentenced to seven years in prison (which was later reduced to six years ). At the time of this writing, it is not clear what kind of sentence Katsav will receive. We can only hope it will be at least double that handed to Goldblatt - if not for the glory of the State of Israel, then at least for the glory of the judicial system.