Getting Their Man: The Katsav Agenda

[To the tune of “Wem-ber-ley, Wem-ber-ley . . .”]

“David Pleat, David Pleat, he’s a pervy wanky bastard and his name is David Pleat . . .”

So Arsenal fans would delight in singing during North London derbies in the late eighties, after it had come to light that the Tottenham manager had been cautioned (three times noch) for kerb crawling.

And with his general awkwardness and scary eyes, over-protestations and public bouts of unbridled rage, it was not too difficult for many Israelis to imagine and label their former President Moshe Katsav (right) – even before his conviction, last Thursday, on two counts of rape – as their very own “pervy wanky bastard”.

And, as on the day after the start of the Carmel Forest fire (see Haaretz: Always hitting us when we’re down), a cabal of Haaretz comment writers – who have been gunning for Katsav, a Persian-born Likudnik, for years – were lining up with glee on Friday morning’s front page . . .

“A rapist in a suit” was Yossi Verter’s chosen headline, alliterating on how “the stomach turns at the thought” of “a punk in the Prime Minister’s Office” (which Katsav apparently aspired to). Then, as the three judges read out their verdict, Mr. Verter’s “stomach churned and nausea rushed up the throat.” (full article)

Perhaps some kind of antacid would be in order, Mr. Verter?

Ari Shavit then waded in even more lyrically (with a touch as delicate as a rapist’s, I thought): “Be gone, Moshe Katsav! In the name of the women you assaulted – be gone! There can be no forgiveness for despicable men like you [omitting the exclamation mark, this time]. There can be no tolerance toward wretched men like you. Your place in history is assured, Moshe Katsav. You will always be remembered as the disgusting person who brought us to the lowest point in our history.” (full article)

What? “Lowe[r]” than the state-sponsored, IDF-perpetrated abuses against an entire people that you and your Haaretz colleagues delight in documenting, and judging, daily? And “lowe[r]” than Operation Cast Lead, in which as many as a thousand innocent Gazans were killed; a war, according to you, without justification or cause?

The words “axe” and “grind” come to mind.

Gideon Levy was surprisingly restrained (though his writing is always more clever and subtle than that of his colleagues), seeming to take perverse pride in the fact that, prior to the verdict, “the only words that came out of [Katsav’s] mouth” were a sarcastic “Good morning to Gideon Levy. A special good morning to Gideon Levy. You are the only one here who deserves a good morning.” (full article)

In his op-ed in Sunday’s paper, Levy speculated as to the cause of the sarcasm. The day after Katsav had defeated his ‘horse,’ Shimon Peres, for the Presidency (in 2000), Levy wrote: “This week . . . many Israelis felt the way they felt the night Yizhak Rabin was murdered . . . For them, hopes have again been shattered, and a nightmare has returned.”

And while admitting that he “didn’t know what [he] was talking about at the time,” and that he had “exaggerated,” Levy – as if not arrogant enough already – clearly now considers himself a prophet (“As it turned out, this week the nightmare reached its climax”), a defence attorney (“I would not appeal the verdict”), and even a judge (“in any case, there’s virtually no chance it will be altered”).

Moshe Katsav has, indeed, brought disgrace upon himself, his family, his country, its Presidency and people . . . but, worst by far, unknown suffering to his female victims.

Being contrary, however, I couldn’t help but speculate, on Friday morning, as to the reaction of the three Haaretz ‘judges’ had the court instead found the case against Katsav unproven (having trained in criminal defence law, I know very well that the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard to establish guilt is virtually a judicial fiction, more honoured, as it is, in the breach): Would Verter, Shavit and Levy have been as swift to congratulate an innocent man as they were to pillory a convicted rapist?

I somehow doubt it.


17 responses to “Getting Their Man: The Katsav Agenda

  1. I met Moshe Katsav in 2005 . Whether that was a pleasure or a misfortune is largely irrelevant. I did notice at the time that he was wearing shoes with tassels, so it was obvious that he was guilty when the charges of rape first surfaced.

    What one wears on the feet says alot about the person !

  2. Jonny Portnoy

    To paraphrase Gertrude Stein re: Messrs Verter, Levy, Shavit et al : “A bigot is a bigot is a bigot”.

  3. In Annie Hall, Alvy Singer (Woody Allen’s character) says “I’m a bigot, I know, but for the left.” And that is how I feel about a lot of those schmocks at Haaretz.

    Jeremy, you can’t mention your “pleasure” with Moshe Katsav without telling us more!

  4. Interestingly enough, it was Katsav himself who, at the outset and in an attempt to pre-empt the potentially damaging news that he was being blackmailed, went to the police. And remarkably – or not, if you subscribe to the ‘They only convict Sephardim’ world view – the Police chose to open an investigation into the affair! The rest, as they say is history and the journalists really didn’t have to work all that hard on this one.
    I too had the pleasure of being in his company at the opening of the synagogue at Bet HaNassi.
    Katsav had been secured the presidency courtesy of Shas and in return he decided to convert a tool shed on the grounds of the residence, into a synagogue. My wife had done the mosaic work in the shul, so we got an official invitation…not that it mattered because at the queue for security there were so many gate crashers, that the entry to the residence looked like the bundle one generally sees when trying to board the 480 from Arlozorov to J’lem.
    Predictably Katzav made a toe-curling, obsequious, insincere and evidently hypocritical speech about the importance of Jewish religious symbolism and the adherence to Jewish tradition that inspired him to go to the shed one evening and say; “Wow! Wouldn’t it be great to convert this shack into a Shul so that I have somewhere to seek contrition after I rape my secretary”… well those weren’t his exact words. His exact words were that the dedication of the synagogue on the grounds of Beit HaNassi was akin to affixing a Mezuzah on the doorpost of the State itself. Unfortunately for Katsav, it looks as if someone decided to check his ‘mezuzah’ and found it “Posul”…

  5. Not “remarkable” at all. In fact, going to the police, knowing the story is likely to come out anyway, could be seen as a logical step, causing people (like you) to think “Oh, he went to the police first – he can’t be guilty.”

    Katsav’s election over Peres – ethnicity aside – was astonishing, and is just another example (if one of the most damaging ones) of the unsavoury behind-the-scenes antics all too common in Israeli politics.

    I think the “bundle” you are referring to, Mr. Haruni – just out of interest, would you happen be of the Sephardic religion? – was for the 240, not the 480.

  6. Sorry to preempt your cheap comeback but Ashkenazi here, 🙂
    Not that you are so bigoted as to think that all sephardim would defend a “legal” rapist i hope.

    I for one think that the fact that Katsav was being blackmailed and went to the police raises suspicion and if i was on the jury serious doubts. Sure it would have been a shrewd move to make being in that situation but no one at all would consider Katsy shrewd.

    In fact the overwhelming voice in the non Haaretz press remarks at his naivety in trusting the A.G. Now true i haven’t been privy to the entire judgement or proceedings but it seems Katsy was found guilty as his alibi was dodgy. All the more reasonable to doubt as he could have accepted a plea bargain and walked free.!.

    Call me a naive ashkenazi but no matter what, if I had done something wrong and new the entire country hated me i would cop a plea! Furthermore claims that he was worried about his loved ones are ridiculous as they are standing by him post rape conviction so a little plea would have been hardly a ripple on the families emotional pool.

    As a lawyer it all seems like flimsy grounds for a conviction and i for one think that with a jury he would possibly have walked .

    Time for trial by jury in Israel – I think so.!.

  7. Say that I’m crazy but I don’t feel ashamed, I’m very proud.

    Of course it’s annoying that our Knesset knowingly chose scum to be our president, but I wonder how many kings, presidents and prime ministers over the years have raped how many women. To the best of my knowledge, none have ever been taken to court and found guilty, let alone sent to prison, as he will be.

    Say what you like about Israel, but there is rule of law and in Begin’s words, there are judges in Jerusalem. Not only that, but the head judge was an Israeli Arab – not bad for an “apartheid state”!

  8. Here are 2 vignettes I have heard recently which will never make it into the Israeli press, never mind the Israeli legal system.

    The 1st concerns Shimon Peres….yes, holy, Nobel Prize winning hypocrite Shimon who invited my sister up to his hotel room for a roll in the sack. This happened around 20 years ago, and she still can’t get over his impudence, the old fart (he was in his 60s then, to my sister’s 20s). Indeed, it took some moments before she grasped what the old perv was suggesting, until she, taken aback, politely refused him.

    Second vignette deals with lovely Ezer Weitzman zl. An elderly woman I know, who had served in the first enlistment of women in the Israeli Air force told me how lucky she was not to have been posted on Weitzman’s base back in ’49, where every girl had been subjected to sexual harrassment by our future Prez. She used the Israeli slang term describing the girls as “mizronim” (mattresses)…

    Of course, times were different then, and war heros were allowed shit that mere mortals were not.

    Or did Peres and Weitzman and Dayan (come to think of it) just benefit by having the right skin tone and ethnicity?

  9. To my mind, if one at all discusses the press regarding Katzav, they should be raked over the coals for not revealing to the public what they knew about Katzav’s sexual predatory behaviour ten years ago. And they knew. Several reporters have openly admitted this.

    They were obligated to do so when Katzav first ran for president.

    In their failure to warn the public who was about the become the new president, the so-called “watch-dogs of democracy” have proved themselves just plain dogs.

  10. albert de gogan

    It has always been a puzzle to me how some people will put everything on the line for a bunk-up. I hope Katzav receives the maximum sentence, and the ladies he wronged get some peace of mind knowing he is out of harms way.

  11. Daniel Marks

    Actually I don’t think prison will be half as bad as we may think.

    After all, he’s used to living in large buildings and being surrounded by guards, so it should be home from home. He’s complained recently that the trial has left him all out of cash, so food and board will be free.

    Finally, he seems to enjoy a good old rape and I suspect that he’ll be getting plenty of that where he’s going.

  12. “Out of cash”?! Katsav will still receive his pension, amounting to a piffling NIS 49,233/month . . .

    That should buy him plenty of wank mags.

  13. albert de gogan

    This creep! Will have will have so much dirt on the rest of them, he will be given an easy passage. Like our own home-bred slug Archer, who spent his time in an open prison, making regular visits to the local boozer.

    Has there been much coverage on the girl he raped, and what sort of pressure was put on her to keep her quite for so long. Maybe someone will get at him with a sharp knife, or even better drop him off in the middle of Gaza.

  14. Pres Clinton used the power of his office to insert a cigar up Monica Lewinsky’s Yoohoo.

    During the Clinton years he didn’t fly on Air Force One, it was dubbed by Hilary’s own staff as Air Fuck One.

    Now he is king of the world.

    Israel took a man from president to convicted rapist as quick as one can say due process…

    BTW – Do you know which recent British Prime Minister was famously shagging his Secretary Natalie?

    Fact is that there is no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation.

  15. “Power is the greatest aphrodisiac”. H. Kissinger

  16. What . . . more than proprietorship of a secondhand bookstore in a street full of Russian “hoes”?! 😉

  17. So, seven years for Mr. K . . .

    I didn’t follow the case in detail, though I understand from friends who did that there is considerable doubt surrounding the safeness of the conviction.

    And an unfortunate byline in this morning’s English language edition Haaretz (now amended online) . . .

    “Judges: Ex-president committed rape like any other man”

    Well, I know what they meant . . . 😉

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