a different side of Israel

Tag: Haim Ramon

Moshe Katsav’s Back in Court

Katsav TrialRemember this guy? He used to be President of the State of Israel, who resigned his position lest than a month before his term was to officially end. That’s right, he’s none other than Moshe Katsav, now private citizen Katsav, whose legal consuls appeared in court today in order for the Supreme Court President Dorit Beinish and Attorney General Menachem Mazuz (to determine whether the former President should actually face charges for a number of sexual related crimes, including rape.

The issue centered around six petitions that had been presented in order to convince Mazuz to cancel the plea bargaining agreement made last July with Katsav in which he would formerly resign the Presidency, be given a one year suspended sentence and pay a fine of NS 50,000 to the women he has been accused of harming. Beinish upheld Maziz’s agreement with Katsav, which dropped virtually all the serious allegations against Katsav including at least two allegations of rape. These include the ones by the lady known as “A” who claims he had his way with her during the period she worked for him in the Tourism Ministry office.

Katsav had been suspended from formerly serving the last six months of his presidency, and Knesset speaker Dalia Itzick had filled in for him in this post until the new president, Shimon Peres, took office in July, 2007. Beinish was reported to have been in favor of at least two of the petitions, but in the end, a majority of the Justices voted to uphold the plea bargaining agreement. There still appears to be an air of questionability concerning the entire issue, and in the end, Katsav appears to have had more influence in having his way than the women he is accused of having indecent relationships with, who tried to get organizations like the Rape Crises Center on their side.

All this goes to show is that men still have the edge over women in Israel when it comes to sexually related crimes; especially if the perpetrator happens to be a government official. The Haim Ramon case is a good example of this kind of situation as Ramon not only got off very lightly for his advances to a female Army officer, but is even back in the government. Katsav appearing in court might have proven to be too much of an embarrassment to the government and this is part of the reason why the decision appears to have been made to shelve the issue, especially since Katsav would have bought many people to court, including members of his own family to act as character witnesses on his behalf. Requiring the former President’s alleged victims to “take the stand” might have been too much of an embarrassment as well. The moral to this story is that, in Israel anyway, it’s still a man’s world.

French Kiss – Israeli Style

“You must remember this – A kiss is just a kiss, a sigh is just a sigh. The fundamental things apply – As time goes by.” – From classic film Casa Blanca

“Oh, Haim, how could you?” Well, he really did do it, and what he did has gotten him into real trouble as the three judge panel presiding over his sexual misconduct case ‘laid down the law’ Wednesday, unanimously convicting the former Justice Minister, Haim Ramon, of creating a real injustice with the ‘tip of his tongue’.

Needless to say, Mr. Ramon (now labeled as “Mr. Romance” for his audacious intentions) wasn’t clever enough to weasel out of this one, and the end result will most likely spell the end of his political career.

Just a kiss? Yes, but what a kiss! The reverberations are still being felt around the Israeli media as well as political circles. Ramon’s seemingly innocent gesture (or so he thought) will be regretted forever by the man who some thought might one day even become prime minister of the State of Israel. Obviously, the three judges, two women and one man, who presided over the case didn’t think Ramon’s kiss, involving the provocative use of his tongue, was so innocent. In fact, quite the contrary!

Beginning with the political downfall of another prominent politician, Yitzchak Mordechai, sexual misconduct is beginning to become something that many Israeli men are now very much aware of and fearful of as well. Previously, such an act would have gone unnoticed and little, if any mention of it would have reached the media, let alone the general public. With Israeli President Moshe Katsav about to be indicted for a number of sex crimes, including rape, the issue of sexual harassment and misconduct is now making Israeli men, including high level managers of corporations fearful that their secretaries, telephone receptionists, and other female employees may someday “blow the whistle” on seemingly innocent gestures made in the past – perhaps even the immediate past.

That Mr. Ramon was Israel’s Justice Minister when the incident occurred; and involving a young female soldier who had been assigned to work in Ramon’s ministry, was bad enough. Had he been presiding over another post, such as environmental or cultural affairs, less attention might have been given. Ramon’s political career, in which he served in other ministerial posts for former governments, including that of Former P.M. Ehud Barak, has often made him the subject of comical characterizations, including those on the tremendously popular television show, Ha Hartzofim, in which a puppet character, representing Ramon was “mounted” on the wall about Barak’s desk, indicating that Barak had complete control over his subordinate.

Though trying to maintain a positive outlook (“I feel good” he was heard to comment when leaving the courtroom) Ramon has obviously been jolted by the judge’s verdict, and must now look forward to being forced to resign his Knesset seat and possibly his long time membership in the Labor Party as well.

A kiss is just a kiss? For Haim Ramon, it was the ‘kiss felt round the world’!

Ramon’s Little Kiss Goodbye

Ramon & HThe testosterone rich life of Israeli politics waddles on with today’s conviction of Haim Ramon.
Haaretz had this:

Both sides agreed that H., who was finishing her army service, asked to be photographed hugging Ramon. According to the indictment, she then tried to leave, but “the defendant continued to embrace her body with one hand and drew her near. With the other hand, he grasped her cheeks, turned her face toward him and pressed his lips to her lips, while inserting his tongue into her mouth, all without her consent.”

Ramon after the verdictThe former Minister of Jutice can receive up to three years in prison. This was an upset.
However, given recent events and the way sexual misconduct has been traditionally ignored for the most part by authorities, I guess better late then never. The unanimous decision by the 3 panel judge sends a clear message to the “light” sexual offenders, those that think that a small innocent forceful kiss is “nothing”….

End of the Israeli Macho

Machismo in Israel (Hat Tip: Rina Castelnuovo for The New York Times)

A recent New York Times article, dealing with the sexual misconduct affairs of Israel President Moshe Katsav, questions whether this and other publicized sexual misconduct and harassment cases involving Israel generals and political leaders marks the end of the stereotyped “macho” image of Israeli men. Referring back to former years, when men such as Moshe Dayan were known womanizers and even international sex symbols, the more recent scandals and court cases involving Israeli male personalities may mean that the cliché of the macho image may fast becoming history in present day Israeli society.

Delving into the history of modern day Zionism, in which Jewish “Hatluzim”, or pioneers, tamed a harsh and disease ridden land while constantly fighting off hordes of Arabs no longer appears to be the character of the modern Israeli male. While the colorful Dayan was able to carry on his activities without undue controversy, and male actors such as Uri Zohar and Yehuda Barkan displayed images of Israeli playboys and beach boys in their movies, the present legal embroilments of several Israeli male personalities have resulted in this ‘trait’ becoming more of a hindrance than an attribute.

A law passed in 1998 now makes sexual advancements and harassment by men a crime, with women able to come forward to take their cases to court against employers, army superiors, and others. The case of former defense minister and transportation minister Yitzhak Mordechai, which occurred around the time this new law (based of a similar U.S. law) was passed, resulted in his leaving political life and public disgrace; as well as being divorced by his wife, Kochi, who herself may have been one of his “victims”.

With the present sex scandals of both Moshe Katsav and former justice minister Haim Ramon being not only splattered across the front pages of newspapers both in and outside of Israel, ‘The Times’ article has drawn it’s own conclusions on the future image of the Israeli male.

Sex scandals are not the only reason why this phenomena has come about, as the country has undergone substantial changes since the days of Uri Zohar and of comedy flicks such as “Lemon Popsicle”, portraying the sexual antics of three Israeli male teenagers. Fewer young men seek careers in the military and in other macho-type occupations which were popular years back. More and more men, and women, are seeking professional or technological based careers; and instead of meeting on Friday afternoons to play “cadur-regel” (football), these guys may be more inclined to be surfing the Internet. In fact, while being an Egged bus driver was an ideal career about 30 years ago, being a computer software guru is now much more popular.

For those Israelis who still long for the nostalgia of the “good old days”, however; they can probably access onto some of Uri and Yehuda’s old movies via YouTube or other film-sharing websites.

Shalom Family – The Dog Adopted Us

Judy Nir MosesSilvan Shalom
Have Former Israel Foreign Minister Silvan (Steve) Shalom and His wife Judy Nir-Mozes Shalom ‘gone to the dogs’, or have the “dogs” gone to them? This is the argument by this often publicized couple’s legal counsel after being sued by the parents of 14 year girl, after an alleged attack on the girl by a dog which is said to belong to Silvan and his wife.

The incident, which is said to have occurred when the girl, then aged 8, was coming home from school six years ago; and was mentioned recently on one of Israel’s popular radio stations, Galei Tzahal. Though the attack occurred years back, it’s only now being brought before a Magistrates Court, and once again projects Silvan and Judy into a limelight recently ‘stolen’ by such notables as former Justice Ministers Haim Ramon and Tzachi Hanegbi, as well as President Moshe Katzav.

The girl, Ariel Popper, who wound up being treated in hospital after the attack, explained that the real problem had been not that she had been attacked by the dog, who had been seen in the yard of the Shalom family, located across the street from the school; but who the actual owner of the dog really was. “We often have dogs and cats come into our yard, and in this incident, the dog that bit the girl didn’t really belong to us. In fact, we didn’t ‘adopt’ the dog – the dog ‘adopted’ us! “, Judy tried to explain.

That explanation wasn’t satisfactory enough to Ariel’s parents though, and they in turn filed a lawsuit again the Shaloms, for N.S. 32,000. “We admitted that the dog belonged to us because we didn’t have any proof that it wasn’t” Silvan noted. He also went on to say that due to the length of time since the incident occurred, this also complicates matters. ” We think that everything was blown out of proportion, including the amount of the lawsuit, which should have been NS. 25,000 and not the larger sum” Shalom continued, saying that the sum became larger when the claim was referred to the legal department of their insurance company.

The Shaloms are also angry that their photos have been displayed by the tabloid paper Maariv, which causes even further embarrassment. “They (Maariv) have nerve to display our photos on their front page; causing an infringement on our privacy!” Silvan continued. They also feel that the claim, occurring so long after the incident, is really an extortion attempt on the part of Ariel’s parents.

Judy, who’s family owns the controlling interest in another large newspaper, Yediot Ahronot, is angry that this incident is being publicized so much by Maariv. Could this incident result in a feud between the country’s two largest newspapers? In any event, it’s already “gone to the dogs”.

Atonement: Who Needs it Most?

Two nights ago ushered in the Jewish Day of Atonement, otherwise known as Yom Kippur. This the last High Holiday of the period that Jews refer to as the Ten Days of Penitence in which Man’s fate for the coming year is sealed by God. Judging from events which have occurred during the year of 5766, and especially in regards to events in Israel, now containing the largest Jewish population in the world, a number of notable figures have much to atone for. For sake of brevity, the most notable ones will be mentioned here:

1. Kobi Alexander: Former head of Comverse Technologies Ltd, who fled the country after being suspected of massive securities fraud in the manipulation of his company’s shares. He has recently captured in Namibia, and is how awaiting extradition hearings and subsequent return to Israel to face charges.

2. Moshe Katsav: Israel’s President now under investigation for several instances of sexual miss-conduct and harassment. News articles occurring almost daily, revolve around Mr. Katzav alleged philandering, especially involving a somewhat comely young lady known as “A.”

3. Ofer Glazer: another sexual ‘misconductor’ who is married to Israeli heiress and billionaire Shari Arison. Glazer is expected to begin serving a six month prison sentence for making advances towards his wife’s hired nurse. Needless to say the affair has been a bit embarrassing for Shari.

4. Dan Halutz: Israeli Army Chief of Staff who is being blamed by many, particularly IDF reserve soldiers to not managing the Israeli Armed Forces properly during the 34 day conflict in July and August. According to Danny; he’s right and everyone else is wrong. Maybe there’s some truth in this.

5. Omri Sharon: Ariel Sharon’s eldest son and also in trouble with the Law over alleged misuse of campaign funds for his father’s re-election bid in 2003. Omri may also have to serve some time in jail, currently delayed due to the state of his father’s health.

6. Haim Ramon: another ‘romanticist’ and former Justice Minister, who resigned his post over charges of sexual misconduct. It appears that this offense is most popular of all these personalities.

7. Zeeve Rosenstein: That underworld character who was recently extradited to the USA due to charges of drug smuggling into that country. Mr. Rosenstein has also has numerous attempts made on his life, one of them resulting in the deaths of 3 innocent bystanders. Good riddance!

8. Ehud Olmert: Present Israeli Prime Minister, Mr. Olmert believes that Israel won the recent war in Lebanon and also feels that he is doing an excellent job running things in Israel. Not everyone agrees. He is also being investigated to making undue profits on some real estate he purchased during his tenure as Mayor of Jerusalem; smacking of conflict of interest. Olmert also believes that the USA will solve the Iranian problem for him – perhaps his greatest sin.

and the list goes on … who else will join it this upcoming year ?

Sexual Misconduct Hits the Jet Set

Sexual Misconduct Hits the Jet SetNot only major political figures like Israel President Moshe Katzav and (former) Justice Minister Haim Ramon are in the limelight regarding sexual misconduct and harassment these days. Ofer Glazer, husband to billionaire heiress Sheri Arison, is now headed to jail after being convicted on several accounts of sexual misconduct, including sexual harassment.

Glazer’s problems including his trying to become ‘more than friendly’ with a young female nurse hired by Ms. Arison, and that he just couldn’t keep his hands to himself. The young woman finally blew the whistle on Ofer after his repeated attempts to seduce her, including occasions at the Arison mansion in Savion, and even while traveling in their car. Glazer finally lost his appeal to his conviction, and now is scheduled to begin a six month prison term in October; a period shortened from the original 18 months.

The marriage of Gazer to Ms. Arison a few years back (July 2003) created quite a stir in the Israeli media, especially the tabloids. Shari, heiress to the fortune amassed by her late father, Ted Arison, and Mr. Glazer, who had a reputation of being a bit of a womanizer, were shown together frequently abroad her yacht on which they honeymooned off the coast of Italy. Afterwards, they went to Miami, where Ms. Arison has a large penthouse apartment. Ofer’s sexual problems began to surface while they were abroad, and became public knowledge upon their return to Israel about a year ago. The allegations of sexual harassment resulted when the victim decided that ‘enough was enough’, and filed a complaint against him.

Ms. Arson’s reactions to this sordid affair have been muted at best; with all efforts being made to keep her profile as low as possible, in light of her position in the companies she is officially Chairperson of; including Bank Hapoalim. His reported comments toward to young woman, including those such as “Can I begin (a relationship) with you?” or “I want to drink a little milk from…..” referring to a certain part of her anatomy, didn’t help his case; and became even more embarrassing for Shari.

Glazer still hasn’t given up his attempt to delay his incarceration, however, and now plans to launch another appeal in the Israel Supreme Court. With his mid-October date with a jail cell just a month away, however, the question is whether Glazer’s legal counsel can prevent his client from being locked up. The young woman plaintiff, against whom Glazer made his overtures, was reported to comment that Ofer is getting his just deserts, even if the length of his sentence was reduced.

If Ofer isn’t successful in his appeal to the High Court, then he may find out, the hard way, what the term “Sexual Harassment” really means when he enters the confines of Ayalon Prison.

The Sexy Life of Israeli Politics

No sooner has Israel’s second Lebanese War come to a temporary end; a number of major political and military personalities are being pursued like schools of mackerel by hungry sharks. While one of these personalities, Justice Minister Haim Ramon, has already submitted his resignation for alleged sexual misconduct, others are so embroiled in the middle of either allegations or bitter accusations, that even if they do mange to escape the gaping jaws of both the public and the media, their character and professional reputations may be damaged beyond repair.

The most prominent of this group, Israeli President Moshe Katzav and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, have different sets of problems but serious ones all the same. Katsav, on whom an article was posted on this site prior to the outbreak of the war, now appears to be in even deeper hot water with new allegations by alleged victims of reported sexual misconduct of a nature far more serious that Mr. Ramon’s. Katzav is now under full investigation by the Police and even his personal belongings at the Presidential residence are being searched for clues. With increased calls for Katsav to resign his mostly ceremonial post, or at least take a forced leave until he is either proven guilty or innocent, a number of candidates are being mentioned as his replacement, including former Knesset Speaker Reuven (Ruby) Rivlin, Former Chief Rabbi Yisrael Lau, and Vice Premier Shimon Peres, who was beaten by Katsav for the post a few years back. Olmert’s predicament is not of a criminal nature but of the manner in which he has presided over the government during one of Israel’s worst crises since the Yom Kippur War , which caused then P.M. Golda Meir to resign her post.

Olmer’s choice of Yitzhak Peretz for the Defense Minister post has also raised a lot of criticism, as Peretz’s demonstrated incompetence was evident to everyone except those who only like to watch Bevis & Butthead cartoons on T.V.

This brings us to the military personality who has also been mentioned in this site. Even Chief of Staff Dan Halutz now admits that a number of ‘mistakes’ were made during the conflict, especially in regards to the use of Israel’s most import military manpower resource, i.e., her reserve soldiers. The tales they are now divulging, and their obvious anger at how they were literally thrown into battle with not only adequate staff orientation and equipment, but without even basic food rations and water, is nothing short of scandalous. Gen. Halutz has a lot to atone for in this regard, and his personality is also under review as well. The incident regarding the share transaction is not even relevant here as that divulgence is only a ‘storm in a teacup’ compared to the outright tempest that has been created in respect to the entire handling of the conflict by the IDF’s military staff, including Olmert, whose start-stop indecisiveness was reflected on the officers in the field as well.

Yes, the sharks are definitely closing in; and when this entire affair is over, a number of politicians, and military brass as well, will find that they have been (politically) devoured.

The Outcome of Violence

By Raz Koller

The Kasam rocket attacks and kidnappings have finely lead to the avoidable violence in the Gaza strip. The IDF has been operating in the Gaza strip since late last night. The military is bombing from the air Palestinian terror nests and infrastructure, intend to sabotage terror activities. Thus a small transformer was bombed last night (along with several bridges) and half of Gaza was blacked-out.

The operation was nicknamed “Summer Rain”, and according to military factors it is a “rolling operation with no established time frame”. But government sources within the Israeli government reassured that Israel has no intention of going back into the Gaza strip permanently. “Israel did not leave Gaza just to return to it” said Foreign Minister, Tzipi Livnie. Prime-Minister Ehud Olmert also clarified today that Israel has no intention to occupy Gaza again, but “the operations will continue. There will be no terrorist immunity. We have a primary goal – bring Gilad home“.

Gilad Shalit was kidnapped during a terrorist attack on one of the IDF’s posts within Israel’s borders during the last weekend. The past days raised concerns about his health in captivity. The Hamas terrorists who have him demanded Israel stop the operation in the Gaza strip or they will execute him. Israel on its side refuses to negotiate with terrorists but said that the release of the soldier and the settler that was kidnapped on Sunday might bring the operation to an end.

HamasIn the meantime Israel accuses not only the Palestinian, but also the Hamas leaders who sit in Syria, and the country that shelters them. “The USA and the international community can not stay indifferent to the fact that Syria is giving custody to the Arch-terrorists who had lad to these acts.” said Minister Haim Ramon.

And in the soldier Gilad Shalit’s home, many people have come to show support to the devastated family. One of the guests yesterday was Azam Azam, the Israeli citizen who was jailed in Egypt for the false charge of spying for Israel, and was released after seven years due to Israel’s massive diplomatic efforts. “Captivity is not simple, only inner-strength can help Gilad survive” said Azam yesterday.

Divided Loyalties: High Court Upholds ‘mixed marriage’ ban

Israel’s High Court of Justice upheld a previous decision concerning the ‘Citizenship and Entry Law’ in which a Palestinian spouse of an Israeli citizen is not permitted to live inside Israel’s ‘green line’. After a very narrow vote of 6-5, the Justice’s decision continues to uphold the law, which has separated many families in which a Palestinian husband or wife, married to a person possessing Israeli citizenship, will have to continue to maintain permanent residence beyond Israel’s border.

According to the Israel Justice Minister Haim Ramon, he plans to use this law toward adopting the criteria pertaining to what is required for obtaining Israeli citizenship.

Social activist groups, as well foreign and even local press representatives declared the decision a “dark day for Israeli justice” and compared the decision to those instigated by South Africa’s former Apartheid regime. The law, effective for one year, and subject to judicial review, noted especially that the previous lifting of a ban on family reunification inside of Israel in regards to Palestinian men under the age of 35, and women under 25 was no longer in effect. Groups that included the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, and ADALAH, a group which is considered the legal center for protecting Arab minority rights, have now petitioned the High Court to try to modify or even repeal this legislation. An Israeli Arab attorney, Murad al-Sana, who is married to a Palestinian woman, pointed out that his own family and many others like him will be adversely affected by this law.
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