Text size

Complainant A. is right: The system "gave up on her." Attorney General Menachem Mazuz even sacrificed her and her colleagues to some extent. He did this for the good of the country - or, in Mazuz's words, for the "public interest." And this was the proper thing to do. A. is very wrong when she claims she was sacrificed for the sake of those in authority. It would have been much easier to decide to go to court, and Katsav lost any remnant of authority long ago. Mazuz has much more to lose from the deal with Katsav than he has to win. Therefore, he deserves great respect.

If the complainants truly had been trampled by the state, their testimony would have been whitewashed and the president would have emerged blameless, and it could be said the decision is a disgrace. But the plea bargain creates a proper and very worthy balance between punishing the president and conveying the message that he must pay for his actions, versus preserving the dignity of the state. The state's interest was on the way to being entirely subordinated to that of individuals, and Mazuz prevented this. The public good has been trampled time and again in recent years, but this time, Mazuz prevented it.

What exactly are Mazuz's critics afraid of? That Katsav was not sufficiently humiliated? That the person who considered himself a leader of the Jewish people, a founder of the Jewish House of Lords, a revolutionary changing the system of government in Israel, would only be ostracized and denounced, but not jailed? That, on the basis of his admission, he would be convicted only as a sex offender and not as a rapist? Does the cup of vengeance really need to be filled to the brim, or is 70 percent enough?

What Mazuz remembered, and what his critics disregarded, is that for the past seven years, Katsav's picture hung behind every senior government official. Katsav represented us in the world, consoled those in need, encouraged, mediated, reconciled and, primarily, served as a symbol. Mazuz understood that if Katsav were now to face a multi-year trial for sex offenses, this would constitute an indecent act against the entire state, and that if the president were to be jailed for sex offenses, it would constitute punishment for the entire state. One could argue that a state whose parliament voted for this president is definitely deserving of punishment, but it seems we already have suffered enough. It is now time for all of us to forget about this man.

Is it only the attorney general who is endowed with such a clear, logical and simple view? Or does he have a great many supporters who prefer to remain silent? Only six Knesset members, a particularly small number, released announcements to parliamentary correspondents Thursday. Almost all of them argued that the decision was a disgrace and demanded that the full extent of the law be brought to bear against the president or the state prosecution (preferably both). Not a single reaction expressed support for the attorney general. It is interesting what the rest of the MKs think. Could it be that most of them believe the attorney general displayed considerable courage, but that they lack similar courage? Could it be that other MKs think the decision is an unavoidable necessity?

The line of thought that guided the attorney general would also behoove the state regarding another painful matter that pits the good of the state against that of individuals - the Shalit deal. Just as A.'s pain is too heavy to bear, the pain of the Shalit family is terrible. But the role of the decision makers is to see the state's interest too, which includes that of past and future terror victims, and future kidnapping victims. This means Olmert must stick to his commitment and not release terrorists responsible for mass attacks. Will Olmert, like Mazuz, stand up to the test?