'Keep the Sex Offender Out'

Several women's organizations called upon Israeli political parties to oppose the appointment of Chaim Ramon as a minister in the next government.

Nissan Ratzlav-Katz,

Chaim Ramon
Chaim Ramon
Israel News Photo

Several women's organizations called upon Israeli political parties to oppose the appointment of Chaim Ramon as a minister in the next government. Ramon, convicted of a sexual offense in 2007, is currently Vice Prime Minister representing the Kadima Party.

In their letter this week to the heads of the major parties, the women's groups said that the appointment of a sex offender to a ministerial post is unacceptable and illegitimate. Among the organizations behind the letter are Kolech, which is a religious feminist movement, the Organization of Rape Crisis Centers in Israel, and the Israel Women's Lobby, a veteran feminist organization.

Dr. Hana Kehat of Kolech said that the fact that Ramon is currently a senior minister is a "terrible failure of this government and this party, the Kadima party, which agreed to and approved his appointment. The Supreme Court called on the public to say its piece, and it is time for it to say its piece."

Ramon did not respond to the letter directly, but a spokesman for the Vice Prime Minister pointed out that the court stated conclusively that he can continue to serve in ministerial or legislative positions. The judges even praised Ramon's public service, the spokesman noted, adding that the judges said the violation he was convicted of was "without moral turpitude."

In line with their ruling, the judges handed down what they termed a "minor penalty," said Ramon's representative. Furthermore, he concluded, the decision was upheld and confirmed by the Supreme Court. Justice Edna Arbel even wrote that Ramon is "not to be seen as a sex offender," according to the spokesman.

Ramon was convicted of sexual harassment for an unwanted kiss he forced on a subordinate. He was sentenced to community service, which he carried out at a therapeutic riding center.

Despite the legal position expressed by the Supreme Court, Attorney General Menachem Mazuz delivered a speech in early January on ethics in which he declared, "It was incorrect" for Ramon to return to the Cabinet after his conviction. Mazuz was responsible for deciding to put Ramon on trial once his crime came to light.

Labor Party head Ehud Barak said recently that Kadima cannot be a catalyst for "new politics" when "a senior member, the Vice Prime Minister, found himself convicted by a court of law for embarrassing crimes."



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