Moshe Katzav declared his innocence in his last words as a free man Wednesday and was greeted with catcalls of “rapist.”
After his speech Wednesday morning, the disgraced former president began the first day of his seven-year sentence for rape. He continued to deny any wrongdoing and vowed that the “truth will be known” one day, whether or not he still is living at the time.
Katzav claimed he treated everybody “with respect and gentleness” and never committed the offense for which he was convicted. “I was buried alive,” he declared.
The judicial system has rejected his appeals and the Public Security Ministry dismissed his request that he serve his sentence at home.
The former president said on Tuesday that he has “hugged and kissed women but not in an inappropriate way. We’ve become like Saudi Arabia. A hug is a sex offense.”
The Supreme not only rejected his appeals but also wrote in its decision, “A deep sadness descends on the State of Israel when it is determined that a person who served as a government minister, a deputy prime minister and president perpetrated acts such as those. It is a most difficult spectacle to see a man who was once the country’s symbol of state going to jail.”
Improper sexual behavior is commonplace in the business and political scene around the world, and Israel is no exception. Sexual behavior often is viewed as “seduction” or “rape by consensus” but in recent years has been deemed as nothing less than criminal behavior, including harrassment and rape, although dependent on accepting the word of one party against the word of the other.
Supporters of Katzav have claimed he has been exploited to highlight a desired change in values, but his insistence that he was not involved in any improper behavior brought out jeers of “rapist” when he spoke Wednesday before entering prison.
He has painted himself as a victim of media sensationalists and feminists but has won some sympathy outside of his personal circle of friends, including several public figures who have complained that radical feminists are exploiting the.notoriety of the accused and intimidating the courts, preventing a fair trial.