Wednesday, September 06, 2006

4 Scandals and a Saint

In the NYT OF 8/23 in the national edition there were two very interesting stories juxtaposed one on top of the other. The first was a discussion of the ongoing saga of the President of Israel Moshe Katsav. A former employee told the police that the president had used his authority and senior position to coerce her into having sexual relations with him. In Israel such a charge if proven is tantamount to rape. Labor Party MK Shelly Yachimovich said that the woman told her that the president "used every kind of force imaginable" on numerous occasions spanning a few years. The president is suspected of raping women on more than one occasion. In fact a second woman has come forward and more are expected. Should such charges be filed President Katsav would be forced to resign.

If I remember correctly this same man, a Modern Orthodox Jew, refused to shake Reform rabbi David Ellenson’s hand a few months ago, and refused to attach the title of ‘’Rabbi’ to his name. Rabbi Dr. David Ellenson is the President of Hebrew Union College and a Professor of Jewish Religious Thought, is a distinguished rabbi, scholar, and leader of the Reform Movement. I would say Katsav is a man who knows the difference between business and pleasure. Recognizing David Ellenson as a rabbi is bad for business, since it would upset part of his Orthodox constituency; the people who helped him secure the position. The guy is a creep and a dumb one at that. He is an embarrassment, and ought to resign.

The scandal with President Katsav is just one of a series of scandals in recent days.The State Comptroller's is looking into a questionable real estate transaction by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. Olmert is to be questioned about a real estate deal in which he allegedly bought a Jerusalem apartment for about $500,000 below its market value. In exchange, Olmert associates allegedly helped the contractor obtain unusual permits from the Jerusalem municipality, Here I feel if they didn’t indict Sharon who was the subject of multiple scandals much more serious than this shady deal , it would be unconvincing to bring these charges to trial just now. I guess the law has its own trajectory.

The third scandal is Justice Minister Haim Ramon, who following the AG's filing of charges against him for sexual harassment, forfeited his immunity and right to an appeal and resigned from his post. He will stand trial on charges of committing an indecent act without consent, Ramon is suspected of having used force to kiss a female soldier on the lips on the day the soldier celebrated her last day of work as a clerk in a government office. I find this story very sad. How can a talented, capable politician, a candidate for Prime Minister on multiple occasions, ruin his career for a kiss? Maybe the trial will reveal details we do not know.

And then there is the Chief of Staff of the IDF, Dan Halutz, who sold his stock position in the first hours of the war. Had he sold 2x his position he could have had a decent spread….either he wins the war or he makes money on his stocks. I doubt if what he did is a crime. Insider trading does not refer to what is inside a mans heart. It is not a crime to sell your stocks if you think the war will go badly. What he did is a shanda; the sort of act unbecoming a chief of staff.

Underneath the Katsav news article was a report on Grigory Perelman, a reclusive Russian Jewish mathematician who solved a key piece in a century-old puzzle known as the Poincaré conjecture. Because of this major result Perelman was awarded a Field Prize, mathematics equivalent of a Noble Prize. As with previous honors, Dr. Perelman refused to accept the prize. I am in awe of Grigory Perelman and cannot read enough about him. I think he is a tzadik, slightly cracked, unbelievably romantic and heroic in a 19th century sort of way. Dr. Perelman is the sort of saint we expect to encounter in a Dostoyevsky novel, but never in the real world. Yet here he is alive and well in St. Petersburg.

To be continued…


At 11:01 AM, Blogger LitaLives said...

Although I agree with you that Katzav appears to be a slime ball, we are both guilty of playing judge jury & hangman.
Just imagine the aggrivation being caused him if he really is innocent.

At 1:37 PM, Blogger evanstonjew said...

I wouldn't have said he's a creep if there weren't so many women who have or are expected to come forward. The chances of all of them lying is low.


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