The Israeli Rabbi, Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, has delivered a pretty outrageous and remarkable verdict on the conviction of the former President, Katzav, for rape. His views are a mixture of theocracy, old fashioned racism, and right wing conspiracism.

Theocracy and racism:

“The criteria for clarifying the truth are not as strict as our criteria (according to Jewish Law), which require very strong evidence and not just estimates… Even Jews who judge according to the gentiles’ laws are called gentile courts. And in our case one judge was gentile, a Christian Arab, so it’s a gentiles’ court.

Right wing conspiracism:

According to Aviner, anyone examining the details of the affairs discovers that “it doesn’t look like he is really guilty. They’re just afraid of the media – and such things have happened before, both here and among the gentiles.” He mentioned the Dreyfus affair as an example.

“We know that in many cases the judge give in to the media, other the media will cause trouble for them, so they are afraid,” the rabbi argued. “So whether they are aware of it or not – they are biased. “From the moment he was appointed president he was persecuted by the media. From the moment he was appointed the press said that ‘this is the worst day in the State’s history.’

“In general, in trials dealing with harassment against women, the media is always in favor of the woman,” Aviner added. “Why? An important person harassed a woman – it’s interesting news. A woman who falsely accused an important person, a simple woman, it’s not interesting, it’s not news. So the media is always on that side, even though it’s not true.”


You’ll be glad to hear that the condemnation from other rabbis has been clear and angry:

A letter of support sent to former President Moshe Katsav by dozens of rabbis has sparked angry responses among the Israeli public in general, and the religious public in particular.

Three Religious Zionism leaders – Ramat’s Gan’s Chief Rabbi Yaakov Ariel, Har Etzion Yeshiva head Rabbi Aharon Lichtenstein and Rabbi Dr. Nahum Eliezer Rabinovich, head of the Birkat Moshe Yeshiva in Ma’aleh Adumim – issued a “manifesto” against the letter supporting Katsav, who was convicted of two counts of rape and sexual harassment.

“Without getting into the details of the former president’s trial and the punishment he deserves, we view the attempt to question the women who complained and the judges and to cover up the disgrace brought upon the presidency as extremely severe,” the rabbis wrote.

This gets it about right:

Religious organizations were also shocked by the rabbis’ support for Katsav.

“This is absolute disgrace and a defamation of God’s name that rabbis, who pretend to speak on behalf of the Torah without any knowledge about the evidence, defend a convicted rapist,” said Dr. Aviad Hacohen, dean of the Sha’arei Mishpat Academic College, which represented women’s groups in a petition against the State’s plea bargain with Katsav.

“One should show some empathy towards a sinner, but there is a long way to go before voicing complete support for him.”

The Kolech religious women’s organization noted that “the Torah refers to rape as murder”, adding that “the rabbis who signed the letter should therefore understand that when they defend a convicted rapist they become accomplices to a crime, throwing women, girls and children to the dogs and leading to promiscuity on the part of people with power and authority against their subordinates.”

Knesset Member Uri Orbach (National Union) said, “I don’t know which facts this letter was based on. It is our duty to stand by the victims, not by the criminals.”