Sunday, January 02, 2011
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.
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