a different side of Israel

Sexual Harassment at the Top

Allegations by several women that Israel President Moshe Katsav made advances of sexual and provocative nature towards them, is another episode in what appears this time to have reached to very top of the country’s government and moral structure.

Katsav, appointed to the largely ceremonial position three years ago, following a long career in public service, is being accused to making improper advances, towards women who worked as his assistants during various parts of his career, going back more than 15 years when Katsav served as Transportation Minister. The allegations, falling into the framework of what is now referred to as sexual harassment, are under investigation by the police; and have reached the point where talk is going about that President Katsav should consider resigning his position, scheduled to end one year’s hence. This event is not the first time that a government official has been accused of such behavior. Former Defense Minister and Transportation Minister, Yitzhak Mordechai was indicted and convicted of such behavior during his transport ministerial term in March, 2001. Mordechai’s withdrawal from public office, due to allegations of sexual harassment from one of his subordinates, not only created a public scandal but resulted in his divorce from his second wife, Kochi, who was nearly thirty years his junior.

Mr. Katsav’s current situation, though not appearing to be of as serious a nature as Mr. Mordechai’s were, are still serious enough to question his moral integrity in the position that he has been entrusted to. The Presidcncy is a position supposed to he filled by persons with the highest moral character, of such a level that he (or she) is expected to be an example in integrity for all the citizens of the country. Former Presidents, including Haim Herzog and Yitzhak Navon, lived up to these high examples and were exemplary public officials during their presidential terms.

Sexual harassment is only now coming to the forefront in many levels of private and public service, including several instances involving high ranking military officials as well. In Mr. Katsav’s situation, however, the investigation is only in its early stages, and has caused Israel’s Attorney General, Menahem Mazuz, to open an investigation of his own, as to whether these allegations against Katsav may actually be a form of blackmail by his accusers. One might wonder why these allegations are only now coming to the forefront, as surely Mr. Katsav’s background, including his moral turpitude, should have been thoroughly investigated beforehand, even before Katsav was sworn in to become President. This may not always be possible or desirable, however, as another internationally famous public official , former U.S. President Bill Clinton, was involved in acts of sexual misconduct not only during his Presidency, but beforehand as well.

What the final outcome of “The Katsav Affair” will be is still being speculated, and eventually to truth will be known to all. What should be a remaindered is that no one is immune to this kind of situation; even those occupying the highest and most respected positions. As the saying goes: ‘The bigger they are –the harder they (may) fall.’


  1. Politics in America back then…it was more like a comedy show. Who can forget, “Well now, that depends on what the definition of “is” is! Sure made me a more careful reader, defining every if, for and its 🙂

  2. “No one knows but for whom the bell tolls – it tolls for thee!” – Ernest Hemingway, from his famous novel: For Whom the Bell Tolls

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