Jacob Heilbrunn

Israel's Presidential Rapist

 Israel's reputation is not at its zenith these days. Two recent stories testify to the troubles afflicting the country, one the letter sent out by 30 rabbis stating that Jewish girls should not date Arabs, the other the news that by 2040 78 percent of the countries students will consist of orthodox Jews or Arabs. Meanwhile, anger is growing at the Orthodox, who don't serve in the military and, essentially, appear to be on the state dole (which means, by the way, that, ultimately, the American taxpayer, who is sending billions to Israel, is on the hook as well).

But then there's the piece of news that reminds that despite its woes, Israel remains a democracy. The news is that former president Moshe Katsav went down like a ton of bricks. He's been convicted of two counts of rape. When was the last time you saw an Arab leader convicted of molestation? For that matter, when was the last time you saw an Arab leader utter a peep about women's rights?

Not in Iran, whose theocratic regime seems to remain intent on stoning Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani to death. Not in Saudi Arabia. The Middle East countries where women are treated barbarically can be extended almost ad nauseam.

By contrast, Katsav's exposure could not be more complete. Haaretz observes,

The judges listed many instances where Katsav lied in order to better his defense. Several examples noted by the judges were that Katsav claimed he fired A. during the Likud primaries when later it was found out he fired her afterwards, as well as Katsav lying to the court regarding attending a particular meeting and then being forced to admit otherwise when it was mentioned in a document presented to the court.

The judges wrote that Katsav reached an ultimate low when he used his late father's memorial ceremony, which A. also attended, for his defense by lying and saying that the ceremony took place in May in order to show that it would not have made sense that A. was raped in April and then came to his father's memorial a month afterwards.

The trial is a testament to the strength of Israeli democracy. It will have to draw on the same strengths to solve its Palestinian dilemma.