In this New York Times piece about former Israeli President Moshe Katsav, set to begin a jail sentence today for rape, Ethan Bronner devotes this article to whitewashing his deeds by portraying Katsav as a respectable family man. See him with his grandchildren…
(Photo: The New York Times/Rina Castelnuovo)
But Mr. Katsav’s defenders, especially in this south-central town where he once was Israel’s youngest mayor, believe that he was the victim of ethnic and class prejudice. Born in Iran and brought here as a child, Mr. Katsav and his family lived first in a tent and then in a wooden hut. After studies at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, he rose quickly, especially once the Likud Party came to power in the late 1970s.
“The fact is that I am from a Muslim country and from a development town,” he said, using the term for the poorer urban areas in the country’s periphery. Israel’s traditional elite has European roots and lives in urban centers like Tel Aviv.
And of course Bronner doesn’t really bring the victim up much at all, but, hey character witnesses galore for the rapist:
A neighbor, Sammy Vaknin, stopped by on Tuesday. He said that for him, Mr. Katsav represented the state in the same way the national anthem and the flag did. To send Mr. Katsav to prison, he said — “even if he did something wrong” — was like throwing the flag in the garbage.
“We might as well hand the country over to the Palestinians,” Mr. Vaknin said.