Sisterhood Blog

Moshe Katsav's Sentence

By Allison Kaplan Sommer

  • Print
  • Share Share

It seemed as if all Israelis were glued to their televisions or radios this morning to hear the prison sentence handed down to former President Moshe Katsav, who was convicted of charges of rape, sexual harassment, indecent behavior and obstructing justice in December.

At home, in stores, offices, or in my case, at the gym — where everyone was huffing and puffing on the treadmills and exercise bikes as they watched the televised images of Katsav enter the Tel Aviv District court building and listen to commentators speculate on whether the sentence would be harsh or light.

The courtroom was closed to cameras, and so reports of the sentence dribbled out over the course of half an hour as the decision by the panel of judges was read, and reached TV screens second-hand. In the lobby of my gym, members were clustered around the television and reacted as a Greek chorus to the words that were flashed across the screen: “SEVEN YEARS IMPRISONMENT.”

The men of the club were grim-faced, but nodded in approval. “Good job,” one of them said. The reaction of the women was immediate: “Poor Gila!” they clucked, referring to his long- suffering wife.

Seven years — with an additional two for probation — seemed to be the magic number. With jail time a necessity after a conviction on as serious a charge as rape, Katsav’s sympathizers were hoping for a four year sentence. Advocates in the fight against sexual violence towards women were hoping for a double-digit sentence. His sentence included a payment of more than $20,000 in restitution to “A,” the former employee he was convicted of raping.

As with the sentencing, the court backed up its actions with some powerful and moving words. The statement read at the beginning of the sentencing by Justice George Karra said that a sentence needed to send a “clear message” and that “we must not forget the defendant is not the victim, but the one who caused harm.” He added that: “The defendant is a symbol. The fact that Katsav committed the acts while serving in a high-ranking post is reason to judge him severely.”

The lack of public sympathy for Katsav — especially among women — stems, to a great extent, from the fact that he has admitted no wrongdoing and expressed no remorse. Anyone who was expecting a change in that attitude at the sentence was disappointed. After the sentence was read, he cried out in tears:

They are mistaken, and it will all be proved! You are mistaken, ma’am, you are mistaken! You have committed an injustice! The judgment is wrong! You allowed lies to emerge victorious!”

The women know that they lied! They know that they lied, they are laughing at the judgment! Your honor knows that she lied!

In some public schools, lessons were interrupted to discuss the sentencing and its implications. My sixth-grade daughter said that her class talked about the still-anonymous heroines of the affair, the women who Katsav attacked who had the courage to come forward and accuse such a powerful man.

There is nothing that Israelis would like more than to leave this tawdry and embarrassing soap opera and media circus behind. But Katsav has 45 days in which to file an appeal, and he surely will, and he has also been granted a month and a half in order to ‘prepare’ to serve his prison sentence. So the end of the Katsav affair is still nowhere in sight.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Moshe Katsav

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • How about a side of Hitler with your spaghetti?
  • Why "Be fruitful and multiply" isn't as simple as it seems:
  • William Schabas may be the least of Israel's problems.
  • You've heard of the #IceBucketChallenge, but Forward publisher Sam Norich has something better: a #SoupBucketChallenge (complete with matzo balls!) Jon Stewart, Sarah Silverman & David Remnick, you have 24 hours!
  • Did Hamas just take credit for kidnapping the three Israeli teens?
  • "We know what it means to be in the headlines. We know what it feels like when the world sits idly by and watches the news from the luxury of their living room couches. We know the pain of silence. We know the agony of inaction."
  • When YA romance becomes "Hasidsploitation":
  • "I am wrapping up the summer with a beach vacation with my non-Jewish in-laws. They’re good people and real leftists who try to live the values they preach. This was a quality I admired, until the latest war in Gaza. Now they are adamant that American Jews need to take more responsibility for the deaths in Gaza. They are educated people who understand the political complexity, but I don’t think they get the emotional complexity of being an American Jew who is capable of criticizing Israel but still feels a deep connection to it. How can I get this across to them?"
  • “'I made a new friend,' my son told his grandfather later that day. 'I don’t know her name, but she was very nice. We met on the bus.' Welcome to Israel."
  • A Jewish female sword swallower. It's as cool as it sounds (and looks)!
  • Why did David Menachem Gordon join the IDF? In his own words: "The Israel Defense Forces is an army that fights for her nation’s survival and the absence of its warriors equals destruction from numerous regional foes. America is not quite under the threat of total annihilation… Simply put, I felt I was needed more in Israel than in the United States."
  • Leonard Fein's most enduring legacy may be his rejection of dualism: the idea that Jews must choose between assertiveness and compassion, between tribalism and universalism. Steven M. Cohen remembers a great Jewish progressive:
  • BREAKING: Missing lone soldier David Menachem Gordon has been found dead in central Israel. The Ohio native was 21 years old.
  • “They think they can slap on an Amish hat and a long black robe, and they’ve created a Hasid." What do you think of Hollywood's portrayal of Hasidic Jews?
  • “I’ve been doing this since I was a teenager. I didn’t think I would have to do it when I was 90.” Hedy Epstein fled Nazi Germany in 1933 on a Kinderstransport.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.