For the Glory of the State of Israel

The law will pass its verdict on Moshe Katsav. And under the law, he is innocent until proven otherwise. But his public and moral standing has already been decreed.

The gray gravestones on the slopes of Mount Herzl in Jerusalem are hard to tell apart. A close look at the weathered letters cut in marble reveals the names of forgotten individuals. This is the cemetery area reserved for national leaders - presidents, Knesset speakers, prime ministers and ministers. Were it not for the unusual shape of the tombstone of Yitzhak and Leah Rabin, a passerby would give this important burial place a miss.

Nevertheless, there are politicians (sometimes encouraged by their spouses) who aspire to reach the highest offices in order to be buried, when the day comes, in the area reserved for the leaders of the nation. As if this would be the seal of approval on their status.

It cannot be known whether this motivated Moshe Katsav to want to be elected president. But yesterday, with Attorney General Menachem Mazuz's announcement of his intention to charge the president, one wonders why this man was chosen for the high office in the first place.

After all, Katsav was a gray politician, for whom the office of president seemed a few sizes too big. Not that the office requires particular skills, but candidates for the job should be shot through with a thread of charm and grace, people with a great deal of dignity who are blessed with idealism. But Katsav insisted, and like other Israeli politicians who lost their sense of proportion in their crazed race for power and position, he took advantage of the dulled senses of the Knesset and managed to get himself elected. Today the entire country is looking at its president with downcast eyes: This man is our national symbol.

The law will pass its verdict on Moshe Katsav. And under the law, he is innocent until proven otherwise. But his public and moral standing has already been decreed. Not only because of the hair-raising indictment itself, but because of his conduct since the investigation started. Katsav was revealed to be a little man, who does not speak the truth and stops at nothing to extricate himself from the dock.

What did he and his associates not say about the complainants? That they were part of a political plot meant to force him out of the President's Residence; that it was an expression of racial persecution; that he was waging a difficult and cruel struggle against a bunch of criminals. One of his lawyers even claimed recently that one of the complainants was a prostitute who on at least one occasion provided sexual services for pay. A similar attempt was uncovered to blacken the name of another complainant by means of a criminal who admitted he had received money for his services.

This defense is known from other quarters; Katsav's associates made use of it from the President's Residence. Katsav did not abandon other, more acceptable means to the political system - he accused the media of harassing him. From the moment he was elected, he claimed, the press lay in wait, sniffing out his defects, trying to blame him for irregularities and corruption. "The media could not understand how a person who had been given permission to be a guest in their living room took over their house, had become the homeowner, the president of the state," the man said to Yedioth Ahronoth on September 15, 2006. He said that, and did not shrink from accusing the press of ethnic bias.

Katsav's full stature is now exposed before the nation: a man accused of rape and forced indecent acts, a serial sexual predator, who did not shy from using his position for fraud. The man who declared he had no relationship with A. other than work; the man who held up his relationship with his wife; the man who angrily and vehemently denied the complaints; the man who asked the public to wait until the investigation was over before it decided his public fate - that man now stands in his nakedness before an indictment that could not be more disgraceful. To the glory of the the State of Israel, which chose that man as its president.