State’s Prisoner Number Two

The State’s prisoner number One, former President of Israel, Moshe Katzav, will be joined on February 15 at the Ma’asiyahu prison by the State’s prisoner number Two, former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

Tuesday was a sad and a glad day for Israel. Sad to see the downfall of a disgraced man who once held the highest office in the land, and glad because it was a victory for Israel’s judicial system.

Originally, Judge Rozen in the Petah Tikvah Magistrates Court sentenced Olmert to six years in prison.

Yesterday our Supreme Court dismissed some of the bribery charges and reduced the sentence to eighteen months, in addition to eight months for previous criminal charges. More charges may be brought regarding his role in the Morris Talansky affair of “alleged bribery”.

Olmert showed no remorse at his sentencing. He left the court all smiles as if he were celebrating.

Well, I suppose one can celebrate a reduction from six years to twenty-six months behind bars.

He will be “held” (more like hosted) in a special section of the prison, Ward 10, reserved for VIP inmates. He will share a cell with two other selected inmates, will have a private bathroom and shower, no contact with inmates in the main prison cells, will have a television set in his private cell, one daily newspaper and several books, and will not be required to do any work. And to assure his “comfort” he will have the luxury of sleeping on fine sheets and pillows brought from his home.

All that is missing, it seems, is the teddy bear to cuddle at night. Such will be his life at the Hilton Ma’asiyahu!

Olmert’s crimes, his lies, his denial of any wrong-doing has brought him public disgrace and humiliation. But for Israel, it brought for all the world to see that our laws are fair and just and apply to every individual, common man and high-born man.

Ehud Olmert had an army of the finest lawyers in the country and professional public relations personnel working feverishly on his behalf to keep him out of prison. They failed! Guilty as charged!

The decision of the Supreme Court Justices was not unanimous. Justice Salim Joubran, an Arab and head of the panel of judges, agreed with the lower court’s (Judge Rozen) sentencing of six years.

This long-overdue punishment is a major symbol of the triumph of law in Israel. No one, not even a former President or former Prime Minister, can evade the law and avoid punishment.

I congratulate our courts and our judges for their fairness and adherence to the rules of law. They evoke a greater pride in our country and in our democratic legal system.

As the Talmud reminds us, “yesh din v’yesh dayan”…. There is law and there is a judge. Kol hakavod. All honor to them.

About the Author
Esor Ben-Sorek is a retired professor of Hebrew, Biblical literature & history of Israel. Conversant in 8 languages: Hebrew, Yiddish, English, French, German, Spanish, Polish & Dutch. Very proud of being an Israeli citizen. A follower of Trumpeldor & Jabotinsky & Begin.
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