Word of the Day / Hityashnut: When It's Getting Too Old, Even for the Police

Whether you had enough of Miley Cyrus, or the statute of limitations has run out on a sex offense.

An old book.

We say something is getting old when we’ve had too much of it, whether it’s Gangnam Style parodies or Miley Cyrus. In Hebrew, “getting old” is a legal term as well.

“Investigation under the shadow of hityashnut,” read Yedioth Ahronoth’s headline on a woman’s accusation this week that Minister Silvan Shalom, considered a contender for the presidency when Shimon Peres’ seven-year term ends this summer, sexually harassed her in a Jerusalem hotel room while she was working for Shalom in 1998, when he served as minister of science and technology.

Hityashnut comes from the word yashan, meaning “old” (as in the opposite of “new,” not of “young”), and in an everyday sense means getting older (again, in the sense of becoming less and less new) or becoming outdated or obsolete.

The headline, though, is using the word in its legal sense, meaning that the statute of limitations has run out on the alleged offense and Shalom cannot be prosecuted for it.

Israel has a 10-year statute of limitations for sex offenses, but police have not closed the investigation yet because they have received information about a possible related incident with a different woman that may have taken place within the statute of limitations, Haaretz reported Thursday.

Whether new accusations come out or the Silvan Shalom case is ultimately closed because of hityashnut, it’s time for the men in Israel’s corridors of power to realize that sexual offenses are getting old.

To contact Shoshana Kordova with column suggestions or other word-related comments, email her at shoshanakordova@gmail.com. For previous Word of the Day columns, go to: www.haaretz.com/news/features/word-of-the-day