Getting Their Man: The Katsav Agenda


By Melchett Mike
January 5, 2011
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[To the tune of “Wem-ber-ley, Wem-ber-ley . . .”]

“David *****, David *****, he’s a pervy w*nky bastard and his name is David ***** . . .”

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 – 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, 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.”

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.”

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.”

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.

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