Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, who signed letter in support of Israel's former president, explains to his students why he is so forgiving towards the convicted rapist. "One judge was a Christian Arab, so it's a gentiles' court," Aviner said, adding the court "gave in to the media."
Rabbi: Judge in Katsav trial a gentile
Shlomo Aviner, who signed letter in support of former president, explains to his students why he is so forgiving towards convicted rapist. 'One judge was a Christian Arab, so it's a gentiles' court,' he says, adding court 'gave in to the media'
Kobi Nahshoni • Ynet
Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, one of the leading religious authorities who signed a letter in support of Moshe Katsav, explained to his students at the Ateret Yerushalayim Yeshiva why he was so forgiving towards the former president, who was convicted of two counts of rape and sexual harassment.
The rabbi said his stance stemmed from one of the judges' religious identities, the media pressure the court was subject to and the essence of Israeli law, which he believes does not allow for real justice.
Aviner, one of the most prominent Religious Zionism leaders, spoke to his students several days after Katsav's conviction. "Should we believe the court, which ruled that the former president has committed a crime and sinned? The answer is no," he said at the start of the meeting.
"This doesn't mean that anything the court decides is wrong, but not everything it decides is right," he ruled.
The rabbi expressed his reservations over the Israeli legal system in general, and Judge George Karra in particular – due to his religion.
"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.
"In general, courts in this country rule that 99% of defendants are convicted. This is impossible. In all Western country it ranges between 65 to 75%, unless we say there are more evil people in Israel… Something is wrong with this system, it's impossible."
Afraid of media?
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."
According to the rabbi, "Other judges, including leftists and seculars – said that this ruling is a disgrace, and they know what they're talking about. You can't say that they are biased."
He added that the judges are influenced by personal opinions, so "it's clear that this is a case of injustice."