Orly Revivo: The Woman Who Dared Complain About Israel's ex-President Katsav

The documentary "A. from the President's Residence" is a moving portrait of the first woman to officially accuse Moshe Katsav of rape, and how the incident destroyed her life.

Maya Sela
Maya Sela
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Maya Sela
Maya Sela

Until last month, Orly Revivo was known in the media as simply “A. from the President’s Residence." She was the first woman to lodge a complaint in the rape case that eventually led to the downfall of former President Moshe Katsav in 2011.

Revivo appeared on Channel 10 on Wednesday night, in a film also called "A. from the President's Residence." It was directed by Anat Goren, who accompanied Revivo for several years. Goren presents not only the story of the rape, the police investigation, the plea bargain and trial, but also Revivo’s discussions with her attorneys, media advisers and mother.

Behind the scenes with a much-publicized rape victim, whom the police believed but the prosecution did not – consequently, Revivo was not part of the indictment against Katsav – Goren also asks tough questions that examine Revivo’s credibility: “Maybe you thought it was cool that he was president?” she asks at one point.

This is a story about ambition, awe, the desire to be liked, to get ahead at work, not to make problems, to get past it all and be done with it. This is not rape in some dark alley. This is about a president, a man that Revivo describes as "charismatic." In the film, she speaks truthfully about the way women respond to authority: “Let people walk a mile in my shoes. The president, a respectable place, I was afraid of him.” Or: “I liked my job … I was trapped.” Or how she told herself: “'It doesn’t matter, you’ll die with this but you’ll get something out of it.' I saw my livelihood, something sane and prestigious.”

How stupid we are. Revivo says Uri Yoeli, a close associate of Katsav, suggested to her that she become Katsav's lover. Attorney Amnon Shimron, another Katsav associate, accused A. of being a prostitute. As if raping prostitutes is allowed. We are so stupid. Revivo explained that she would come to work appropriately dressed, as if it is permissible to rape scantily dressed women.

And how stupid Katsav is. What a genius plea bargain he had right in his hand, and look where he is now. Serving a seven-year jail sentence for two counts of rape and other sexual crimes against women. One of her heroes was a president, Revivo says, admitting, “My dreams are over now.” Still unmarried, those dreams – of a prestigious position abroad – died. She has gone back to living with her mother and working as a real estate agent and in a nail salon.

The film sketches the image of a woman who dared complain. It is the epitome of women who try to make something out of this kind of situation and just survive.

In a future film - less personal, with less pornographic commercials - we’ll be happy to see something on the silence of the journalists who swallowed their tongues; the silence of the prosecution who proposed the shameful plea bargain; and the silence of the politicians who made Katsav president.

Orly Revivo outside the court during the trial of former President Moshe Katsav, in June 2008.Credit: Nir Kafri
Orly Revivo at a press conference about a potential plea bargain for Moshe Katsav in June 2007.Credit: Moti Kimche

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