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
Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
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

Click the alert icon to follow topics:



Automatic approval of subscriber comments.
From $1 for the first month

Already signed up? LOG IN


The Orion nebula, photographed in 2009 by the Spitzer Telescope.

What if the Big Bang Never Actually Happened?

בן גוריון

'Strangers in My House': Letters Expelled Palestinian Sent Ben-Gurion in 1948, Revealed


AIPAC vs. American Jews: The Toxic Victories of the 'pro-Israel' Lobby

Bosnian Foreign Minister Bisera Turkovic speaks during a press conference in Sarajevo, Bosnia in May.

‘This Is Crazy’: Israeli Embassy Memo Stirs Political Storm in the Balkans

Hamas militants take part in a military parade in Gaza.

Israel Rewards Hamas for Its Restraint During Gaza Op

Palestinians search through the rubble of a building in which Khaled Mansour, a top Islamic Jihad militant was killed following an Israeli airstrike in Rafah, southern Gaza strip, on Sunday.

Gazans Are Tired of Pointless Wars and Destruction, and Hamas Listens to Them