The Sacrificial Lamb Roars

So this is what the man we read about yesterday looks like? The one who "started touching [my] breast?" And then "opened his trousers but didn't actually take them off?"

One could not separate the man in the nice suit and white shirt with the nervous ticks in his eye from the man with the trousers in the testimony of the complainant, his bureau chief. That's the man who "put it in" or didn't, whom we read about in the papers.

Two years ago President Moshe Katsav promised to wage a world war to prove his innocence. So yesterday he received peak viewing time, appearing in the community center hall intended for weddings, with white plastic chairs.

Yesterday it was no longer President Katsav but a 64-year-old man charged with exploiting his position to abuse his female staff. Nonetheless, citizen Katsav wanted to bring to the hall in Kiryat Malakhi some semblance of statehood, so he placed four flags behind him and started summing up his years of presidency, which in his opinion were very, very successful, marked with his love of Israel, visiting injured people in hospital and receiving "compliments from all directions."

When he spoke about his trial the cliches flowed like a fountain from his mouth, from "spilling his blood" to the "lynch against him" and "a real danger to democracy." Yet it was hard to ignore his distress or belittle his desire to tell - no matter how long it took - what really happened.

His desire to let out his pain was stronger that the journalists' ability to listen. It was not clear whose sympathy Katsav was after yesterday. The journalists in the hall? The viewers at home?

At half past nine the muttering in the hall grows louder. Someone yawns loudly. The reporters gaze at Katsav with bored curiosity, like watching a fly struggling in a spider's web. It was clear to everyone how this desperate struggle would end. We'd hoped to get a confession of a man who was sentenced to death, yet he continued dwelling on details, not noticing the noose tightening around his neck.

The question we wanted to ask him was not whether he was guilty but how he was dealing with his guilt.

For a moment an unpleasant thought creeps into my mind: What if he isn't guilty? Impossible. The possibility that the man would not be convicted doesn't even cross my mind. This could expose scary demons that had better be left in the dark. One is the demon of pre-trial judgment by the media. The other is our readiness to sacrifice a man in the name of a just notion.