Sholto Byrnes of the New Statesman astounds me with his take on Moshe Katsav's conviction:
The conviction last week of the country's eighth president, Moshe Katsav, of rape, is described in today's Jerusalem Post as "staining the reputation of Israel and its citizens". But once one passes the initial reaction – of horror that so high and venerated an official could commit such a crime – I would say quite the opposite. As David Harris writes on the Huffington Post: "How many other countries in the Middle East – or beyond – would have tried and convicted an ex-president? This was the case, just last week, with Moshe Katsav, sending the message that no one is above the law – in a process, it should be noted, presided over by an Israeli Arab justice."
It is an astonishing case – terrible for those involved, yes, but one that conveys belief in a quite exceptional level of accountability. Could one really imagine such a charge ever being allowed near the courts in America or France? Wouldn't there be some behind-the-scenes fix to spare the establishment's blushes?
Let us not enter an argument about Orientalism or relativism here. We do hold Israel to a different standard, and we ought to admit it. So when Israel meets and exceeds that standards, we owe our applause. However dreadful the circumstances of this case, it is an example to the world when a country can state so clearly that no one, not even the highest, is protected from being brought low by justice.