According to the official website of the Knesset (Israel’s parliament) Moshe Katzav was born in Yazd, Iran on 5 December, 1945. According to domestic and foreign news services, he will enter prison on 7 December 2011 to begin serving a seven-year term for two counts of rape and other sexual offenses against women who were his subordinates while he served in high public office.
The courage of the woman known as A, Katzav’s most public victim, is remarkable. Katzav, his legal team and his supporters publically reviled her, defamed her and shamed her to the point that she felt she had to leave the country. Even the presiding judge of the court that finally found him guilty of rape and other offenses on the 31st of December last year felt called to say that Katzav had ”engaged in a campaign of vilification against the plaintiffs”.
I don’t want to go over material that has already been covered very well, so I am just including a few on-line references at the end of the post for anyone who is interested in learning more about the affair. My aim in writing is to explore and express my own feelings.
Ever since A’s accusations became public, I’ve followed the case in the Hebrew press. Together with A, I have felt violated, embarrassed, angry, frustrated. A’s story has reminded me, as it has many women, of the times I have been victimized by men who were more powerful than I.
When Katzav was calling his victims liars, trying to impugn their credibility, styling himself as the victim of a media-fueled conspiracy of evil women, I wanted to scream. I remembered the time a professional man took advantage of the power dynamics of our relationship and sexually assaulted me. I remember how empowered I felt when I reported him to his professional oversight body, and how outraged I was when he answered my charges by saying that it was all a lie and anyway, I wanted it and asked for it.
I remember feeling both vindicated and ashamed of my naïveté when a friend, a member of the same profession, told me, “Of course he denied it. You didn’t think he’d admit it, did you?” I remember feeling vindicated when I was told that the professional organization understood that an innocent man doesn’t give two conflicting responses (“it never happened and anyway, she wanted it”) and invited me to testify in person. I remember feeling that I just could not face his lies and libels and so I let it drop. Years later I am still ashamed that I didn’t pursue it.
But A did. She followed her truth in spite of burning public humiliation, and the truth shone through the darkness and clouds cast by her rapist. A makes me feel proud; she encourages me.
And more. In a time when I am becoming more and more disillusioned with the politico-legal establishment in this country, the High Court of Justice has shown that there is still justice in this country. Not for all, not all the time, and not complete… but it has not abandoned us completely.
Knesset site (Hebrew) http://www.knesset.gov.il/mk/heb/mk.asp?mk_individual_id_t=110 and English http://www.knesset.gov.il/mk/eng/mk_eng.asp?mk_individual_id_t=110
A timeline of the five years from first public knowledge of the crimes until today from the English edition of the major Israeli daily Haaretz http://www.haaretz.com/news/national/timeline-katsav-s-rape-trial-comes-to-a-close-after-more-than-5-years-1.394762
Wikipedia on the rape and sexual harassment charges against Katzav (English) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moshe_Katsav#Rape_and_sexual_harassment_case (Hebrew) http://he.wikipedia.org/wiki/%D7%9E%D7%A9%D7%94_%D7%A7%D7%A6%D7%91 (ר’ עבירות מין שם)