Wednesday, January 31, 2007

kiss of

In a country milked by war and soaked in corruption, certain limits should be set. For example, a president should not be allowed to rape an intern or an employee. They can get down and dirty, using the American model, but no forcible sex allowed. Simple rule. No forcible sex. Bad Mr. President. Now get off the stage.

A few more examples of limits that should be set. A member of parliament should not be allowed to finance personal vacations using government money. A candidate for prime minister should not be allowed to make deals with a businessman friend to work out illegally robust campaign expenses. A cabinet minister should not be allowed to sway the tender in the sale of a bank to help a close personal associate.

Get off the stage, we shout. But no, free they walk, these state leaders, with criminal probes on their heels, down a long path of unfinished allegations. Our fearless leaders.

The former justice minister, whose career nearly ended this summer and almost certainly ended today, has been convicted of forcing a 21-year-old IDF soldier to kiss him. It happened, by chance, the day Hezbollah went to war with Israel, the same day Israel went to war with Hezbollah. The soldier was finishing her service and wanted a picture with the justice minister before she left. So, they posed, he bearish and sheepish, one hand in his pocket,the other around her back. Her head nestled in his armpit, her arms wrapped around his generous middle.

Snap. Picture taken. Now what are they thinking? She smiles at him, itching to get out of his embrace. 'He's gross,' she thinks. 'Do I kiss her?' he wonders. He goes for it. Hell, it's her last day.

Bad move, Haim, right into the trap. Six months later, you are walking out of the court, a convicted sex criminal. What kind of justice minister are you? What kind of country is this? Congratulations, Haim, our misguided friend, you are now the first of our illustrious leaders to be convicted of a crime in 2007.

The irony of a justice system which convicts its justice minister first. Now that he has been found guilty, and faces up to three years in prison and a lifetime of shame, who is next? The president? The prime minister? The comatose prime minister? In this country, we may see Ariel Sharon convicted before Moshe Katsav.

Three years in jail and that whole lifetime of shame thing is quite a hefty price to pay for forcing someone to kiss you. If Katsav is convicted, he gets 16 years. That makes more sense. You force someone to have sex with you, the president of this honorable nation, then you must suffer the consequences. Especially when there are seven other allegations against you, four of them nullified because of a statute of limitations.

Katsav is a criminal. He is sick. His address to the country was pathetic. For nearly one hour, he babbled about his innocence and shouted at reporters, and generally made Israel cringe.

Haim Ramon, our 56-year-old former justice minister, is probably as scumbag as they come. What he did was offensive and inappropriate, and to top it off he lied about it, shaming the victim and attempting to exonerate himself in a pathetic and certainly unjust way.

Forcing someone to kiss you is wrong, and in many cases should be considered a crime. It is manipulative and it is invasive and it is condescending, as is touching anybody anywhere they do not want to be touched.

In this case, an employer - who happened to be an elected government minister - kissed an employee - who was, incidentally, also a soldier - who did not want to be kissed. It was a completely inappropriate situation, but was it a crime?

They were both adults. Nothing in the brief bit I have read of the indictment describes any sort of violence. It describes him inserting his tongue into her mouth and her being very upset afterward. It quotes him saying she flirted with him and her calling his bluff.

Are all unwanted kisses sex crimes, even those in which the most violently described act was that of a tongue sticking itself in an unwanting mouth? Is it a crime that should be punishable by three years in prison? The judges certainly must know more than we do.

Ramon's crime was not that he forced the young woman to kiss him, though that was the conviction. His crimes were forcing her to kiss him, while justice minister, then lying about it, while justice minister. He admitted that he kissed her, but said she wanted it. She didn't want it. He knows that now.

Seems reasonable of the court, then. Set these leaders to a higher standard and show them that if they want to exploit their positions of power, they are going to have to pay.

So that would mean that all of the other criminal leaders, elected to set an example for us Israelis, will also be convicted harshly due to their high positions, right? Maybe not. The Israeli justice system, like so many other things Israeli, is upside down and backwards.

That being said, I know nothing about justice.


Anonymous said...

Ali- baley! My love... its D. Im very antsy in the computer room so im not going to write much, but I wanted to read everything you have on your blog right now. IM going out to hear gypsy jazz and i feel like i should rush home first and put on my genie pants. It was incredbiel to hear your voive, but ever so briefly the other night... it shall happen for much longer and sweeter very soon. Keep writing and shining!

yudit said...

Instead of young female soldier, think "my sister" or "my girlfriend" and the difference between what is OK and what is totally wrong becomes quite obvious.

In a decision by one of Israel's high court judges it was stated clearly a while ago: if you do not actually hear a loud and clear "Yes", assume it to be a NO.

Israel's law on the prevention of sexual harassment states it very clearly as well and Mr. Ramon was found unanimously guilty of tresspassing that law by a team of three peace court judges.

The max sentence is three years for acts like that.
But Mr. Ramon is guilty of more than that, Mr. Ramon insulted his young victim again and again and again. She was ashamed by a well organised campaign organized by Ramon and his cronies.
Scumbags indeed

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