A wonderful post from The Strength Within.
A wonderful post from The Strength Within.
Thanks to a Tel-Aviv court three Jaljulya men in prison for beating a man to death in front of his wife and daughter in 2009 side-stepped life-in-prison.
Manslaughter carries a maximum penalty of 20 years. Anyone want to guess the average percentage of time convicted criminals in Israel actually serve?
And how much time with Leonid Karp’s wife and daughter “serve” without their husband/father and with the memories of his brutal murder?
Friday, Mar. 25, 2011
Israel’s Katsav Rape Case: A Plus for Women’s Rights?
By Karl Vick / Jerusalem
In a parliamentary government like Israel’s, pretty much all executive power resides in the Prime Minister. The office of President carries certain responsibilities, such as signing treaties and appointing the head of the central bank, but it’s largely a ceremonial post. Israel’s head of state is basically there to make the country look good.
So when Moshe Katsav, who held the office from 2000 to 2007, was convicted of rape last December, it did not enhance the dignity of the office. Nor did the outburst Tuesday morning in the Tel Aviv courtroom where he had just been sentenced to seven years in prison. “You are mistaken, ma’am, you are mistaken!” Katsav cried to one of the three judges he faced. “You have committed an injustice! The judgment is wrong! You allowed lies to emerge victorious! The women know that they lied! They know that they lied, and they are laughing at the judgment!”
The jurists took turns trying to calm the defendant — “Sir, sit down quietly, with dignity,” one of them said — then returned to reading out the sentence. In addition to jail time, it calls for Katsav to pay 100,000 shekels (about $28,500) to the woman he was found guilty of raping when she worked for him at the Tourism Ministry, which the Likud Party loyalist ran in the late 1990s. Katsav also must pay the equivalent of $7,100 to one of two former employees of the President’s residence whom he was convicted of sexually harassing. His attorneys announced he would appeal.
In the spasm of agonized national self-reflection that immediately ensued, one positive note was sounded again and again: in a country that still regards itself as the only democracy in the Middle East, “nobody is above the law, not even a former President,” as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu put it.
In fact, Israelis have grown accustomed to the long arm of the law reaching into the highest levels of government. Netanyahu was elected to an office vacated by Ehud Olmert, whose trial for corruption is under way in Jerusalem. The nation’s political landscape is stippled with former officials widely expected to resume their careers after waiting out penalties.
The real import of the Katsav conviction is the offense. Israel once enjoyed a reputation as an early exemplar of women’s rights. Golda Meir was elected Prime Minister in the 1960s. Young women wait at bus stops wearing olive green fatigues and carrying M-16s, military service being compulsory for both genders.
But in the corridors of power, it’s been a man’s world for generations. “This is considered a feminist country? That’s something new to me,” laughs Irit Gazit, who runs the legal aid bureau for the Women’s International Zionist Organization. An expert on sexual harassment, Gazit has been conducting workshops for the Israel Defense Forces. With its heavily male officer corps and legions of young female conscripts, it has often had to deal with accustions of harassment, yet it remains a crucial role model for a society that reveres its military.
In the gradual change of public attitudes, women’s rights advocates say a pivot point was the 2001 conviction of Yitzhak Mordechai, a retired major general convicted of indecency after being accused of unwelcome advances by a string of female subordinates. “While we were having coffee, he forced himself on me,” one testified. “He lay on top of me and tried to put his hand inside my blouse. I said to him, ‘Itzik, what are you doing?’ ” The accusations came in what would be a familiar pattern: news of the first complaint was followed by a wave of others. “It was a common assumption that if you were in a powerful position, you could do whatever you want,” says Gazit. “It was common in the army.”
The assumption has grown a bit less common with the publicity surrounding each new case. And there have been a lot of them. In one week last November, the nominee for national police commissioner was undone by a complaint from a woman who said he had sexually assaulted her at a conference. After another women alleged he had raped and drugged her, the candidate claimed the incident was not only consensual but a threesome. Meanwhile the director of the public security ministry resigned, acknowledging a relationship with a subordinate “that went beyond the bounds of work.”
Meanwhile, Katsav’s yearlong trial proceeded largely out of view, the three-judge panel barring most press coverage after sensationalized coverage of the investigation. The verdict included the judges’ tart observation that the Iranian-born Katsav had attempted to frame his accusers, followed by the court’s release of audio tapes supporting the allegation. “Now is a time of change,” says Gazit. “We need to educate men and women both. I hope cases like Katsav’s really serve this purpose.”
There is evidence they do. In January, the civil service commission reported that sexual harassment complaints were up 40% over a year earlier, a surge attributed largely to increasing awareness of the issue. Rape crisis counselors referred to it as “the Katsav effect.”
The past few months, we here in Israel have lived through some horrendous tales of violence and sexual abuse and misconduct. Our former President was convicted of rape, a highly-important rabbi indicted for sex crimes and stories of murder and sexual assault of young men and women, often at the hands of their peers, abound.
Despite that, or perhaps because of that, this is a story I think we all need to hear: The story of one woman’s outstanding heroism in the midst of the horrible conditions being endured by Eritrean refugees.
While the world looks to Egypt for new hope, hundreds are being killed and tortured for financial gain on her Southern border.
A hopeless situation? Perhaps. But not according to Zeid and the 50 people she who owe her their lives.
Wednesday, 16 February 2011
Zeid, a 30-year-old asylum-seeker who had been raped by Bedouin smugglers in the Sinai, managed to steal the keys to the prisoners’ cells and release her comrades. This according to the testimonies of prisoners who fled to Israel
About 50 asylum seekers from Sudan and Eritrea were able to escape two weeks ago from Bedouin smugglers who held them in the Sinai and reached the Israeli border. About 30 of them managed to cross the border, while the others were apparently sold by Egyptian soldiers back to the smugglers. This is according to the testimonies of four refugees who entered Israel and told their version of the story to the Hotline for Migrant Workers.
The prisoners who escaped owed their lives to Zeid, a 30 year old prisoner, who through ingenuity and courage, managed to release them from the camp. They said that about ten days ago she was brutally raped by one of the guards at the smugglers’ detention camp. The refugees explain that when the smugglers returned Zeid to the camp grounds, she stole the key to to the prisoners’ cell and hid it in her hair.
The group that was released from their cells took captors’ Kalashnikov rifles, threatened them, and fled, armed to the Israeli border. Before crossing the border into Israel, they threw down their weapons and, thereby, secured their entry into Israel, directly into the hands of IDF forces who took them from there to Ketziot Prison.
Zeid, the heroic prisoner, currently remains at Ketziot Prison. Abraham Asmelsh, age 25 from Sudan, who was able to escape thanks to her efforts asked to say one sentence to her : “Thank you Zeid. Thanks to you, we are still alive.” Abraham promises to keep the key Zeid brought to him for the rest of his life.
Rape, Starvation and Violence
The place where the refugee group was held for the past six months was like a pigsty. Conditions were appalling and difficult – without regular food, toilets, showers or proper places to sleep. “We got a half-liter bottle of water per day. When it was very hot, we were given two bottles per person,” says Mussa Naim, one of the asylum seekers who had been imprisoned by the Bedouin. “When I came to the desert I weighed 85 kilo. Within six months I lost 30 kilo.”
“They were taking the women every day. When I tried to prevent them from taking them, they beat me with sticks. I still have signs,” Musa said, “They argued that the women were not my sisters, so it was not my business what they did with them. The women were crying and shouting. I could not sleep. After several months, it became clear that none of them got their monthly menstrual cycle. Some of them did not realize that they were pregnant. ”
Dozens of concentration camps of asylum seekers from Sudan and Eritrea are operating in the northern Sinai Desert, half an hour from the border of Israel – Egypt. A report that was prepared by the “Hotline for Migrant Workers” presents accumulated testimony of experiences of severe abuse from asylum seekers who managed to reach Israel. According to the report, ownership and control of the camps is divided between the Sinai Bedouin smugglers, and Egyptian military personnel, who maintain an extensive business relationship with them.