Friday, February 2, 2007

Ramon: A pretty girl that gets a kiss

Haaretz takes issue (below) with the verdict in the case of Haim Ramon. What happened here is that a man lost his career because he kissed a girl. That is the bottom line apparently. President Katsav, accused of rape, has yet to be tried. Consensual or not, this was just a kiss.

The punishment does not fit the crime, does it?

Quoth Haaretz:

The verdict in the trial of Haim Ramon marks the beginning of a new age,
and not necessarily a better one, regarding the attitude of the justice
system to sexual offenses.

Actually, the verdict heralds the dawn of a new age in far more than the attitude of the justice system to "offenders." The victim is known only as "Heh" - a letter of the alphabet. Such letters are becoming popular Hebrew names apparently, since there is also an "Aleph" who complains she was raped by the President of Israel. Don't call your little girls by such names, as such females are liable to sexual harassment it seems. Choose different names for your daughters.


Kidding aside, the use of a letter for the plaintiff's name is the protection afforded to victims of sex crimes, so that they are not stigmatized by society. It is appropriate for rape cases, and similar judicial procedings. But a kiss, was after all, just a kiss, and not indecent assault, at least in popular understanding. A kiss is now categorized, according to Israeli law, as a crime worse than bribery or violent assault or murder. The names of murder victims are published. The names of kiss victims are not.

Kiss victims, like rape victims, appear on Israeli television with their faces blurred over and their voices distorted beyond recognition, their words rendered in subtitles.

"Gvi zvesthem yom sheshmhi," says the victim. And the subtitle reads, "This is a great day for me." Why do they bother giving the voice? She could be saying "I made the whole thing up" for all we can tell.

Daughters may now sue their fathers for indecent assault. Consider the case of Bet, a young lady aged 25, daughter of Hayim from Holon, who will appear on Israeli TV next year with her face blurred over, and give her version of long past events, rendered by subtitles:

Last year I saw home videos of me as an infant. I was totally shocked. My father kissed me without my permission when I was two years old. He kissed me on the belly too. He tickled me and said "Metuka Sheli" (my sweet one). All this was done without my consent. I was a helpless infant. Can't you see me crying in the video? I demand justice! The old goat has to be locked up.

The case will hinge on the question, considered by the learned justices, of whether "Metuka Sheli" was a fatherly term of endearment or not. The victim will swear on oath that at the time she believed "Metuka Sheli" was dangerous libidinous innuendo with sexual overtones. Neighbors will testify that the defendant called his wife by the same term. Poor old Hayim will get 3-5 in Maasiyahu prison with no conjugal visits. Conjugal visits are not for sex perverts. They are only for people like Yigal Amir, who murder Prime Ministers.

Those who are worried about the demographic problem in Israel, should consider the effect of this verdict, which makes kissing a crime.

Ramon should have been defended by the great, though fictional attorney, Horace Rumpole. Some legal references for the consideration of the learned justices of the appeals court:

A pretty girl that gets a kiss,
And goes and tells her mother;
Has done a very naughty thing,
And don't deserve another.

And, from the bard himself:
"Teach not thy lip such scorn, for it was made
For kissing, lady, not for such contempt." - W. Shakespeare.

Ami Isseroff

Strictness bordering on harassment

By Haaretz Editorial

The verdict in the trial of Haim Ramon marks the beginning of a new age, and not necessarily a better one, regarding the attitude of the justice system to sexual offenses. On the one hand, the Ramon verdict will make it easier for a woman to lodge a complaint in cases that until now were considered borderline. On the other hand, defining Haim Ramon as a sex offender and a non-consensual kiss as a sexual crime opens too wide a door and may blur the boundaries between real sexual crimes and inappropriate behavior. To a great extent, detached from the sexual permissiveness and freedom in society, the judges ruled that "a kiss on the mouth with the tongue that is non-consensual is clearly a sexual offense that needs no proof. We are not dealing with sexual harassment, not with a gray area... but rather with an intrusive, damaging and humiliating act... a kiss that is non-consensual arouses repulsion, disgust, revulsion." These statements appear detached from the times and cultural context, as if they were written in a different society.

Ramon's conduct as described in the verdict is the vulgar and unacceptable behavior of a man in authority, who according to the judges did not think he needed the soldier's consent for the kiss. The fact that he lied in court is itself serious. However, it is a long road from this to criminal conviction. It seems that from the moment the soldier was persuaded to register a complaint, and the appropriate clause in the law was found, and from the moment the attorney general decided to issue the indictment, the road to conviction was paved, perhaps too smoothly.

The question is not whether Haim Ramon kissed the soldier against her will and whether this behavior is to be tolerated when it comes to a government minister, but rather whether the court is the appropriate place to discuss behavioral norms and whether the ease with which Ramon is defined as a sexual offender does not hold some risk of confusion between real criminals and those whose behavior is intolerable.

Israeli society seems to have come a long way from the total disparagement of cases of sexual harassment to strictness in this regard, which sometimes, as in this case, itself borders on harassment.

The offenses of which President Moshe Katsav is suspected are clearly sexual, and have components of long-term coercion, aggression and humiliation, and secretiveness, while the case of Ramon touches more on relationships between men and women, on a misunderstanding, on the boundaries of flirtation, matters that it is difficult for the court to rule on, if at all. The strict attitude taken with Ramon and the defining him as a sex offender might engender a sense of persecution and contempt for the concepts of sexual attack in general.

Criminal law should have absented itself from this case, and bringing it to court involves treatment by the investigative and prosecutory authorities that is too energetic and pressured, even in the opinion of the judges. This is another aspect of the transformation of Israeli society into a litigious one ad nauseum, and the giving over of issues of morals and behavior to judges, as if their opinion on the question of what is disgusting and repulsive is more important than that of any other person.

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  • I agree with the Haaretz editorial that the Ramon case should not have been handled in a court. Legal sanctions are not the way to deal with these types of issues.

    Ramon's case should have refered to someone of standing in a position society holds most eminent, say, the The office of the President...

    oh wait....

    By Blogger Ittay, At February 12, 2007 at 1:50 AM  

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