On Thursday, Moshe Katsav, who served as the president of Israel from 2000 to 2007, was convicted on two counts of rape in a Tel Aviv court. Katsav was found guilty of raping an employee while serving as the minister of tourism in the late '90s, as well as sexually abusing another woman and harassing a third. The accusations against Katsav first surfaced in 2006, and ultimately led to his resignation. Here's a look at the early reactions to Thursday's verdict in Israel and elsewhere.
This Is Actually Great for Israel Some comments to the press have put a positive spin on the Katsav case. "This is a sad day for the state of Israel but a joyous day for Israeli democracy," a Jerusalem lawyer is quoted as saying at AOL News. "It shows how the law can reach any echelon of society." Meanwhile, the state prosecutor for the case called the verdict a "badge of honor for Israeli democracy," according to The New York Times. Shimon Peres, Katsav's successor and the current president of Israel, made a similar statement, saying, "There are no two kinds of citizens here, citizens of only one kind exist in Israel--and all are equal in the eyes of law."
What Happens Next BBC News reports that Katsav "is expected to return next month to be given a prison term of at least four years. However, legal experts point out he may appeal to the Supreme Court."
Huge Step Forward for Women Writing in Haaretz, Neri Livneh calls the trial's outcome "a moment of truth for the legal system, which must decide whether the man chosen to be Israel's number one citizen has the same sexual rights once granted to feudal lords, kings and princes." Livneh writes that "from today, every woman--whether she has a doctorate or a fourth-grade education--will know that some things no one has the right to do to her against her will ... And the minute this becomes common knowledge, victims of sex crimes will no longer have to be faceless women identified only by their initials."
Katsav Could Have Been Smarter About This Ernie Smith at ShortFormBlog writes, "It's good to note that Moshe Katsav, who was convicted of raping two former employees and harassing another, backed out of a plea deal to fight this in court. Bad idea."
You Wouldn't See This Happening in Syria Commentary's Max Boot takes the opportunity to tout "Israel's moral superiority over the neighboring states." Boot explains:
Abuse of power, especially by powerful men, can happen under any regime. Can anyone doubt that such offenses are frequent among senior Arab officials? Certainly Saddam Hussein and his debased sons were known for preying on women; and that is only the most public example of a pattern that no doubt applies across all dictatorial regimes around the world--including the dictatorial regimes that surround Israel. The difference is that, in Israel, there is an independent judiciary that has the power to root out wrongdoing at the highest level.