Friday, December 31, 2010

Maariv's Yemini on the Katsav Affair

Yemini on the Katsav Affair

While my skepticism about the Katsav verdict was the subject of
yesterday's posting, I thought you would find Ben Dror Yemini's take
on it of interest. Yemini goes much further than I do in condemning

Yemini is the Deputy Editor of Maariv, Israel's 2nd or 3rd largest
daily (depending on whether you count the freebie Israel Hayom as
one). He is also a regular columnist and blogs. He is somewhat
left-of-center, but not too far, and he is militantly Zionist. He
grew up in a religious Yemenite family. He is strongly critical of
the seditious Far Left and the "Post-Zionists" and devotes perhaps
half of his weekly weekend columns to attacking them. (Some of the
rest of the time he attacks the Israeli Right.) He admits repeatedly
in his piece that he is not a fan of Katsav and Katsav's politics.

Yemini's two-page Maariv article on the Katsav verdict appears
today in Maariv, Dec 31. It is too long to translate but I will
summarize it and paraphrase parts of it for you. Perhaps someone will
translate the whole thing into English – if so, I will post it.

Yemini's column is titled "Judicial Disgrace." He begins by
paying lip service to feminists and to their attempts to make the
public aware of sexual mistreatment of women and other grievances.
(Ok, so I TOLD you he is Left of Center!) But he then reminds his
readers of the long track record of the Israeli political and media
establishment (meaning the Left) in bashing Katsav. It began when
Katsav first beat Shimon Peres in the 2000 vote for the Presidency.
Yemini recalls how numerous leftwing journalists (including leftwing
ultras Gideon Levy and Ron Myberg) in Israel compared the Katsav vote
victory to the murder of Yitzhak Rabin. Amos Oz published at the time
a particularly offensive piece in Yediot Ahronot about the Katsav
victory, as the triumph of unenlightened religious people and
conservatives, and as the impudence of the "Second Israel" (meaning
lower-income Mizrachi and working-class Jews). Israel's leading
comedy television program, "Eretz Nehederet," essentially the Israeli
"Saturday Night Live" (but not aired on Saturday night) then
"Palin-ed" Katsav, turning him into their favorite butte of mocking.

Katsav was regularly vilified by the Israeli media. After all, he
is not "one of us," not a leftwing Ashkenazi yuppie. He is a man who
rose from humble origins and poverty in a religious family of Iranian
Jews, living most of his life in an impoverished development town in
the Negev. The three justices who just found Katsav guilty (they
included two women and the radical outspoken Arab judge George Kara)
can claim all they want that they were not influenced by the media
frenzy and assault against Katsav (writes Yemini), but their denials
are not persuasive.

Yemini then reminds his readers how the whole prosecution case got
started. It has dragged on for so many years that most have
forgotten. It began when Katsav himself filed a complaint against the
woman (still nameless and referred to in the media as "A"), who had
been his Office Manager, when she had wanted to return to her previous
job and demanded back pay. She was extorting and threatening Katsav
and he filed a formal complaint. When Katsav refused he demands, Ms.
"A" hired herself a PR man and started issuing media attacks against

That was when the first claims of sexual harassment were made by
her. Note – they were being made by the same woman demanding to
return to employment with Katsav! The PR people then linked "A" up
with Shelly Yachimovich. The Shelly is the head of the Taliban wing
of the Labor Party. She is a far-Leftist and ultra-feminist, dreams
of restoring to Israel the Stalinist central planning system that
operated here briefly in the 1950s. The Shelly realized she had media
dynamite in "A". That led to the most disgraceful part of the whole

While "A" had never claimed she was raped, The Shelly appeared on
Channel Ten TV and announced that she (Shelly) knew that in fact "A"
had been raped by Katsav!! The leftist media then opened a blitz
against Katsav and convicted him in the press (writes Yemini).

The Shelly was then joined by Mani Mazuz, the leftist Attorney
General at the time, who pronounced Katsav guilty of rape even before
the investigation of the allegations had been conducted.

Katsav attempted to defend himself in the media. He made errors.
He bad-mouthed "A". He attempted to recruit Yemini himself to defend
him, and met with Yemini privately to state his case. Yemini says
that, unlike Yachimovich, he does not engage in journalist trial by
newspaper. But he then writes that if he had, he would have gone
public with a Katsav-is-Innocent proclamation. The evidence and
material presented to Yemini by Katsav at the time, so Yemini writes
now, completely debunked what the rest of the media were running about
Katsav. While Yemini says he was skeptical about many of the things
Katsav claimed to him at the time, later the Prosecutor conceded that
most of those points were correct. Those confirmations came out when
the state was defending its offer of a plea bargain to Katsav against
the media onslaught that denounced the plea offer.

There were senior prosecutors in the Israeli system who opposed
indicting Katsav altogether, and who were convinced that there was not
enough evidence to make a case. The plea bargain offered Katsav, and
rejected by him, would have involved no jail time and a mere
concession by Katsav that he had sexually harassed or misbehaved. The
prosecutors themselves did not believe "A". Their written response to
the complaints about the plea offer remains classified but is thought
to include detailed information on why the complaints about rape by
"A" were not credible and why "A" herself was not a credible
plaintiff. In any case, the whole prosecution case was full of
inconsistencies, contradictions about facts and dates, and other

None of this disproves the fact that Katsav often behaved badly
and improperly, writes Yemini. (So did Clinton but the whole world
treats Clinton as a cute if naughty juvenile whose private life is no
one's business. – SP) It just means that the legal case, as opposed
to the media case, against Katsav was completely un-solid, writes

The end of the story was that Katsav, contrary to the legal advice
he was getting, indignantly rejected the plea offer. Had he accepted
it, it would long ago have been forgotten by a world that can barely
recall who Monica Lewinsky was. Had he argued in court that at his
age most men are physically incapable of carrying out a rape, he also
might have been cleared. (I assume his machismo did not let him raise
that claim!) Instead, he is now probably to be sent to hard prison
time with actual criminals. The Hebrew university leftwing sociology
professor accused by several students of raping them was never
prosecuted and keeps his university job. The Haaretz journalist who
taught at Tel Aviv University and was accused of rape was never

One can only imagine what this is doing to Katsav's wife and
children. One can imagine how serious is the risk now that he could
take his own life.

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