Israel President Moshe Katzav is really finding out how lonely it is at the top. This is especially true after being accused by his country’s top legal watchdog, Menny Mazuz, of crimes ranging from rape to sexual harassment, fraudulent misrepresentation of facts, and cover ups for other similar deeds. After the official announcement by the State Prosecutor was announced on January 23, Mr. Katzav seems unwilling and unable to come to terms with reality. His speech today at his official residence in Jerusalem, before members of the press, was an exercise in absurdity, with Mr. Katzav adamantly claiming his innocence and expressing his feelings of being victimized by his country’s media, especially the ones representing Channel 2 TV.
Even Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, himself feeling the heat of possible indictments for a number of wrongdoings, has called for Katzav to resign his office immediately. An editorial in today’s issue of the Jerusalem Post states that Katzav can do whatever he needs to do to “clear his name”, but should resign his office for the good of the country. The only problem, for Mr. Katzav anyway, is that the crimes he is accused of being involved in are more than just an issue of “clearing his name”. In fact, they are serious enough to give Mr. Katzav another residence to live in that will be a bit more ‘cramped’ than the spacious one he and his wife have been enjoying for the past six and a half years.
Not being a graphic artist, I can only give an idea what a good political cartoon should be concerning the future domicile of Mr. Katzav. It goes something like this:
The scene takes place at Ayalon Prison where we see serial rapist Benny Sela sitting in his prison cell looking at a tattered copy of Hustler Magazine. The prison warden is yelling out to Sela, “Hey Benny, You’ve not got company!” And following along behind the warden, and carrying his consignment of prison uniform, blankets, etc., is none other thanâ€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦ (I’ll let you, the ready figure this one out!).
It’s not a pretty situation by any measure, and in order to prevent the State of Israel from being castigated by the world for drifting from the absurd to the ridiculous, the only alternative that President Katzav has left now is to resign his post and exit, stage right.
He needs to do this not only to preserve what’s left of his own dignity, but that of his county’s as well.
The writer is a freelance journalist and political commentator