Katsav: Victims' Victory
Today Israel is reeling in shock from the Moshe Katsav guilty verdict.
Like everyone else, my initial reaction to this first-impact shock is transient, and is unlikely to resemble my thoughts and feelings in a week, a month or a year.
That said, here we go…
The victims were heard.
Even above the voice of Moshe Katsav, the President of Israel himself, his expensive lawyers, Establishment support and hitherto popularity.
A mere secretary, and an 18 year old national service volunteer, had the tremendous guts to accuse the most prestigious man in the country of disgusting crimes - but for which there were no other witnesses.
Her word, against His.
On this absolutely uneven playing field, these women stuck to their guns, and remarkably the legal system found their word to be true, and Him to be a liar and sex offender.
This represents a tremendous Victory for Sex Abuse Victims Everywhere.
It also is a remarkable victory for Israel’s system of Justice.
The President is the highest position of honour in the State of Israel. He is the symbol of the Establishment. The values which are the very foundations of the State. The fact he was the first sephardi president of Israel, was an additional source of pride for the Presidential institution
Nevertheless, the Justice system treated Moshe Katsav like any other alleged criminal.
I hope this will encourage the thousands of other sex-abuse victims, who have not yet had the courage to stand up and now bring formal complaints against their abusers, all of who seem 'presidential' (stronger, higher authority, more credible, etc) in the eyes of their abused victims.
In Israel, sex crime victims WILL be heard, and justice CAN be done. However powerful the offender.
One must also acknowledge the overwhelming arrogance of this sex offender.
In June 2007, Moshe Katsav was offered a plea bargain which, in retrospect, was outrageously generous to the ex-President. According to the deal, Katsav would plead guilty to several counts of sexual harassment and indecent acts and receive a suspended jail sentence, and pay compensation to two of his victims.
However, Katsav rejected the deal, and his lawyers resigned.
Katzav knew the truth, and he knew he was guilty. Nevertheless, he exhibited mind boggling arrogance in rejecting that plea bargain, insisting that he was totally innocent of the charges, and would prove that in court.
Such arrogance is not unusual amongst abusers – I have myself seen such men, guilty as sin, with overwhelming evidence against them, yet they claim self-righteousness to such a degree, they apparently believe their own lies.
So, this day, today, is a day of both shame and pride for we Israelis.
Shame that a President of Israel is a vile sex offender – and will presumably sit in prison for many years for his despicable crimes.
And pride, that the small voice of the abused women was heard and heeded, above the awe of the President’s position - by the Israeli Justice system.