Sunday, January 02, 2011

Katsav 'the target of an anti-Mizrahi witchhunt'



Ex-president Moshe Katsav

The respected Maariv columnist Ben Dror Yemeni is one of the few voices in Israel to claim that ex-president Katsav, convicted earlier this week of rape and harrassment, was the victim of an establishment witchhunt - according to this Associated Press report. Some people had not forgiven Katsav for defeating Shimon Peres in the elections for the Presidency in 2000.

On Thursday, a Tel Aviv court ruled that Katsav twice raped a woman who worked for him when he served as tourism minister, harassed others while president and obstructed justice. The ruling was scathing, deeming the ex-president to be "manipulative" and his testimony riddled with lies.

Katsav stepped down in 2008 over the charges. The conviction drew a near-unanimous chorus of approval Friday from Israeli commentators.

"Once again it has been proven that, despite its many faults and flaws, the legal system is what keeps the State of Israel from descending into an abyss of immorality," columnist Ari Shavit wrote Friday in the Israeli daily Haaretz.

One of the few dissenting voices was Ben-Dror Yemini, a columnist for the daily Maariv, who accused the judges of caving into hostile media coverage of Katsav and partly acting on prejudice against Jews of Middle Eastern origin.

Katsav was born in Iran and grew up in a poor Israeli town, becoming a young mayor and a political success story before his spectacular fall from grace. Many critics in Israel see the legal system as representing a secular elite dominated by Israelis of European origin and liberal views.

"The contempt and loathing were already there," Yemini wrote. "Katsav is not one of our own. Katsav is the other, the stranger who occupied a role he had no business taking."

Most pundits disagreed.

Read article in full

4 comments:

Eliyahu m'Tsiyon said...

Many thoughtful Israelis agree that Katsav was convicted out of political vindictiveness, that the trial was unfair, that some of the judges' specific rulings about the "evidence" were absurd, etc. However, recall that Katsav's first and chief nemesis was Attorney General Meni Mazuz, himself a Mizrahi. Recall also that Katsav was the first Likud leader to be elected president of the state of Israel. Now, since the Labor Party and its "lefter" associate party, Meretz, still have great influence over several crucial state institutions in Israel [police, state prosecution office, judges, etc], my conclusion is that Katsav was not convicted mainly on grounds of being Mizrahi, if at all. After all, Labor realized after the 1977 election that they had a problem with Sefardi & Mizrahi voters. So they had Yits'haq Navon, a Laborite from an old Sefardi family in Jerusalem and close associate of Ben Gurion, elected state president in 1978, while Menahem Begin was prime minister.

The first woman who charged rape against Katsav, an accusation apparently elicited from her by Mazuz, is called Alef-from-the-President's-Residence. Katsav actually brought the case to Mazuz' attention [July 2006] because she was blackmailing him, apparently threatening to reveal an affair between them, not rape [Many Israelis, including me, heard her taped telephone call to Katsav made available by Katsav]. Her lawyer was Kineret Barashi, a Mizrahi woman. Katsav made an impassioned plea on TV proclaiming his innocence about the end of 2006. He repeatedly blamed Mazuz, not Ashkenazim, for his predicament, although many in the anti-Katsav camp claimed that he was blaming Ashkenazim [Katsav's wife is Ashkenazi].

It is also of interest that the chief judge of the 3-judge panel was George Kara, a Christian Arab. Another of the judges was a feminist who never found innocent any man accused of any sex crime. Also, it is peculiar that, although the alleged offenses took place in Jerusalem, the trial was held in Tel Aviv. Who changed the venue and picked the judges??

My wife read a summary of the court decision and found much absurdity in it. For instance, why did the woman in this case [not Alef-from-the-President's-Residence but Alef from the Tourism Ministry], continue working for Katsav after she had allegedly been raped? Why did she come to his hotel and go up to his hotel room after already being allegedly raped by the same man?? Didn't she know that there were beds in hotel rooms?

Anyhow, Yoram Sheftel and other Israeli lawyers have already analyzed the unfairness of the trial. I believe that Katsav was harassed more in order to show that the Labor Party still rules Israel legitimately and that the President's office belongs to them, than because he was a Mizrahi. Recall that Netanyahu, as the article points out, was harassed by police investigators for months after he lost the 1999 election, on very petty grounds. Avigdor Lieberman and the late Rafael [Raful] Eitan, both Ashkenazim, were harassed by police investigators. Lieberman is still under investigation.

Eliyahu m'Tsiyon said...

It is also of interest that the chief judge of the 3-judge panel was George Kara, a Christian Arab. Another of the judges was a feminist who never found innocent any man accused of any sex crime. Also, it is peculiar that, although the alleged offenses took place in Jerusalem, the trial was held in Tel Aviv. Who changed the venue and picked the judges??

My wife read a summary of the court decision and found much absurdity in it. For instance, why did the woman in this case [not Alef-from-the-President's-Residence but Alef from the Tourism Ministry], continue working for Katsav after she had allegedly been raped? Why did she come to his hotel and go up to his hotel room after already being allegedly raped by the same man?? Didn't she know that there were beds in hotel rooms?

Anyhow, Yoram Sheftel and other Israeli lawyers have already analyzed the unfairness of the trial. I believe that Katsav was harassed more in order to show that the Labor Party still rules Israel legitimately and that the President's office belongs to them, than because he was a Mizrahi. Recall that Netanyahu, as the article points out, was harassed by police investigators for months after he lost the 1999 election, on very petty grounds. Avigdor Lieberman and the late Rafael [Raful] Eitan, both Ashkenazim, were harassed by police investigators. Lieberman is still under investigation.

This sentence cannot be extracted from the whole context of the Katsav Affair started by Mazuz in July 2006, nor from the context of police harassment of National Camp politicians including Raful and Netanyahu. Why was Katsav not charged with raping the first Alef, the first woman who accused him of it [with Mazuz's encouragement, it seems]? Why wss that first charge dropped from the indictment?

Pro-Zionist said...

Eliyahu and others are right. Regretfully, I must conclude the Katsav trial was a show trial (not unlike the anti-Semitic show trials of Jews in medieval Europe and Muslim countries) by which Israel's elitist, socialist, white, Ashkenazi, secular establishment took revenge upon Katsav for being a religious, Mizrahi Likudnik who had the gall to beat Peres in the presidential election.

Consider the discussion here:
http://yaacovlozowick.blogspot.com/2010/12/moshe-katzav-israels-democracy-and-far.html

U Haifa Professor Plaut on the injustice of the Katsav trial (scroll down):
http://stevenplaut.blogspot.com/2011_01_01_archive.html

Maariv Editor Yemini on the injustice of the Katsav trial:
http://zioncon.blogspot.com/2010/12/maarivs-yemini-on-katsav-affair.html

Prominent Israeli attorney Sheftel on the injustice of the Katsav trial:
http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/news.aspx/141444

Sheftel on the Israeli judiciary's drift to political trials:
http://www.mypracticalphilosophy.com/shelp/speechisraelmain.htm
"Sheftel claimed that "the State Prosecution is becoming a pillar of the leftist camp. There must be a public reaction for this selection exercised by the Prosecution in putting people on trial for their political views.""

There is something very rotten in the state of Israel, and it's called the Israeli judiciary.

Thiago said...

That's why I love this site. Even reader's comments are great to read.

It's amazing how Israel's "intelectual" elite controls everything in the country. This reminds me of that penalty imposed to Beitar Yerushalayim when its fans booed something in Rabin's honor...

Amazing job you guys are doing here!