Former justice minister Haim Ramon was found guilty of indecent behavior at Tel Aviv Magistrate's Court on Wednesday afternoon, for having kissed a young woman soldier against her will. The three-judge panel delivered a unanimous verdict.
"The complainant's account is the absolute truth," wrote the judges. "Ramon, however, did not stick to the truth, exaggerated the role of the complainant and distorted the facts in a sophisticated and savvy way." Ramon was charged last August with indecent behavior for having kissed H., the complainant, on July 12, the day the second Lebanon war began. Both sides agreed that H., who was finishing her army service, asked to be photographed hugging Ramon. According to the indictment, she then tried to leave, but "the defendant continued to embrace her body with one hand and drew her near. With the other hand, he grasped her cheeks, turned her face toward him and pressed his lips to her lips, while inserting his tongue into her mouth, all without her consent." Ramon admitted to the kiss, but claimed that it was the natural outcome of a lengthy flirtation that H. conducted with him. He also claimed that the kiss was mutual, not something he forced upon the complainant.
The prosecution had argued that the two had no prior acquaintance and that nothing in H.'s behavior implied that she wanted Ramon to kiss her. It also claimed that a kiss between a young woman and a 56-year-old minister, minutes before a cabinet vote to go to war, is normatively problematic. The most important question facing the judges, however, was whether Ramon could or should have known that H. did not want to be kissed. The prosecution claimed that Ramon never even asked himself what she wanted.
I know that Haim has been crying night and day for the last six months, lamenting those two fatal minutes when he let himself be embraced and photographed with that girl-soldier. But he is (was) a politician, vain and pretty. He had built a difficult political carrier from his days as an university student leader to the high position of Minister of Justice. He was seduced by this young woman to kiss in front the camera and then utterly destroyed. From the moment he fell into the hands of the Ministry of Justice, his fate was doomed. That Ministry is peopled by our ferocious man-hating barracuda, an extremely dangerous predator inhabiting Israel's legal, media and government environment. The only way of surviving in barracuda infested waters is to extremely carefully avoiding calling the attention of the hungry predator and provoking her fury.
Now Ramon has not only lost his post of Minister of Justice and his career is destroyed, he is facing now a long legal battle for damages to the woman. Having been convicted, he cannot work in any public service position, so there he is at 56 unemployed and looking for a starting position as lawyer, a profession he hade never practiced. I never liked him but I feel he did not deserve this fatal strike and we are all much worse for his fall.
Something very bad is happening in Israeli society. I think it is an overreaction to the world's antisemitism. The world is watching us very carefully and accusing us of imaginary crimes: that our reaction to the Arab assassins in our markets is overdone, that we opress our African Jews, and so on. Now this section of intellectual class has turned around and is ferociously erradicating anything remotely uncorrect - shades of sexual misbehaviour, misunderstood ethnic remarks, disrespectful treatment of terror suspects and so on. On the one hand, this campaign has succeeded in instilling real fear in the Israeli middle class male, who has almost disappeared from sight, leaving in its place the ostentatious multi-feathered homosexual, and the proudly antisemite Arab, living off his privileged status of untouchable "native" - getting scholarships to the best universities, the best jobs and generally acting as the owner of the place and its illegal Jewish majority.
On the other hand, Israel is extreemely strong and is growing and prospering. The damage this campaign is actually causing must be marginal, at best. Maybe President Katzav, Minister Ramon and others are necessary sacrificial victims to placate the angry gods. Maybe it is good that the Israeli male is aware of the terrible punishment expecting him for the provoking the ferocious barracuda spirits. I should keep down too.