Friday, April 28, 2000

Helping bad boys be better

By Dan Williams
The Jerusalem Post - April 28, 2000

Dan Williams spends a day at Sharon Prison's juvenile ward and talks to the boys and their caretakers about rehabilitation

A seat was left vacant at the Seder held in Sharon Prison's juvenile ward last week in memory of 17-year-old D., who had hanged himself in his isolation cell three days earlier.

The ward staff insisted on the gesture, having noticed that their own consternation at D.'s drastic act was not shared by the inmates.

"The boys accepted the suicide with equanimity," says Betty Lahat, warden of Sharon Prison. "They think he was very brave, and he's become something of an admired figure."

D., who was serving a two-year sentence for assault, was put into isolation after almost killing another inmate in a fight.

"The others know that D. always carried everything to the extreme, and now they figure that he just wanted to end it all," Lahat adds.

Though suicides are rare events at the ward, according to its director, Itamar Yefet, at any one time there are about 30 boys on the "danger list." These are closely monitored to make sure they don't harm themselves or others, and anything in their possession that could be used as a weapon is confiscated.

Nonetheless, Lahat says, if an inmate is determined to kill himself, ultimately he will succeed. Besides, she says, the problem exists well beyond the prison walls. Conversations with her own teenage son have convinced her that "boys of this age haven't any value for life."

This truism seems to be borne out by the fact that Israel has no similar facility for girls.

And the hazards of puerile recklessness and rebellion are magnified tenfold at the Sharon Prison's juvenile ward, the country's only facility for under-aged felons. That's why, say both Lahat and Yefet, a special mix of vigilance, strictness, and sensitivity is required at all times.

THERE are approximately 100 boys aged 14 to 17 at the ward, the number varying as arrested juveniles are brought in for lockup pending trial. They are kept in complete isolation from Sharon's 400 adult inmates.

Most of the young convicts are serving three month- to three-year terms for larceny or drug offenses, some four- to seven-year terms for rape, a handful 25 years for murder.

The ward is divided into three cell blocks: Brosh is the most spare, housing new arrivals and inmates who have been punished or isolated from the others for their own protection, while Erez and Gefen are decorated and more comfortable, allowing the inmates to mingle.

The boys bunk two to a cell, but sometimes a third friend will sleep on a mattress on the floor.

Apart from the bars in the windows, the cells, with their music posters, pin-ups, and coffee paraphernalia, recall the accommodation at many Israeli boarding schools.

Most of the boys come from broken homes, Yefet says, where they never learned the importance of trust.
"From the beginning, we match each with a cellmate we feel will not influence him for the worse, and with whom he can develop a rapport," he says.

Often, Yefet adds, a boy will warn the staff if his cellmate is feeling despondent or is at risk of committing suicide because of a fight he had with the others, helping prevent tragedy.

Roll-call, lock-up, and lights-out is at 9 p.m., and at 7 a.m the inmates are woken up for breakfast. The food - standard three-course fare, much like at kibbutzim or army bases - is delivered from the main prison refectory, and the boys are also given snacks throughout the day.

Twice a month, they can buy their own supply of chocolates, chips, and other junk food at a canteen set up especially for them. Chewing gum, however, is off-limits, lest it be used to block up keyholes.

The boys' currency is tokens they earn for good behavior or for doing errands around the compound. They are also awarded for attending matriculation classes given by teachers from the ORT school system, at an enviable ratio of eight pupils to a teacher.

There are further education opportunities in the weight room, in the kitchen, and, as of this month, in the NIS 300,000 computer room.

"To us, one juvenile inmate is like 10 adult prisoners in terms of expense, but there's no other choice," says Yefet. "Look outside, at how much is invested in children; their schooling, clothes, activities. We have to give these kids the same investment so they can return to the world."

"FOR YOUTHS, the whole legal system is different," says Prisons Service spokeswoman Levana Levy-Shay. "From the courts, the social services, to the Labor and Social Affairs Ministry's juvenile department, they separate them from other criminals."

More than 30,000 police files involving juveniles were opened in 1999, up 8 percent from the previous year, completing a decade in which youth crime rose significantly every year. However, Dep.-Cmdr. Suzy Ben-Baruch, head of the Israel Police Juvenile Crime Section, says that the statistics paradoxically reflect the success of enforcement efforts.

"Following all the murders of children by children over the past two years - in Rishon Lezion, Upper Nazareth, and Jerusalem - there was a national outcry, and we increased our staff and operation," she says.

"Because there is more work in the field, more crime is uncovered."

The police's Unit for Preventing Youth Crime has been doubled in size, and the 70 juvenile units nationwide have been beefed up with volunteers, social workers, and special agents who monitor street gangs.

Moreover, six new regional detective units have been opened, and half have already infiltrated some 200 high schools to break up drug rings.

Dr. Malka Alek of Bar-Ilan University's psychology faculty concurs with Ben-Baruch's assessment.
"I think there is more crime," she says, "but there is also greater awareness and concern, and greater willingness to uncover criminal incidents by agencies that feared they would be seen as not so good; for example, schools that feared the bad press of exposing crimes in their midst."

Alek believes the various agencies dealing with troubled youths - the welfare officers, the boarding schools and halfway homes - should coordinate their efforts better. However, at the same time, she notes approvingly that the system uses incarceration in the juvenile ward only as a last resort.

THOSE inmates who turn 18 before serving out their sentence are transferred to a normal penitentiary, sometimes joining the adult inmates of Sharon Prison.

Otherwise, there is no overlap between the two prisoner communities. Even arranging for the boys to use the prison's sports pitch requires elaborate coordination to ensure they don't come into contact with their grown-up counterparts.

This confinement, says Yefet, is a deliberate effort to turn the ward into "a sort of greenhouse," where a new sense of responsibility and pride can be cultivated in the boys before they are returned to normal society.

The exception to this is the Shalhevet program, where an adult convict near the end of his term and who has passed a special training course speaks with the youths, offering himself as a cautionary example of where crime leads. There are also three psychologists on staff to provide counseling.

Given that many of the inmates have never had proper adult attention, they sometimes initially respond to the discipline with reflex rebellion.

According to Yefet, one favored form of inmate protest is carving their arms with pieces of wire. 

Recently, one boy bit a guard.

Lahat says the staff members have to be unyielding in punishing the boys, but are careful to be encouraging at the same time.

"If you give them a punishment, say isolation for a boy who threw boiling water on another inmate, they don't believe they'll come out of it," she says.

"They can begin to despair. You have to give them reason to be optimistic, tell them they'll get another chance."

The younger the criminal the more chance there is at rehabilitation, says Yefet, adding that once the boys reach their twenties the process gets harder. "At a young age, a boy is impressionable, he finds it hard to make decisions. But if you manage to get through to him, you get through all the way."

"GOD WILLING, my four-year sentence will be cut for good behavior," says Z., a soft-spoken 17-year-old who hopes to begin a career as a graphic designer.

He chats about the computer classes, the once-monthly visits from his siblings, and the tolerable schnitzel sandwiches. But he declines to discuss the reason for his incarceration - rape.

Similarly, 15-year-old S., who got 25 years for molesting and murdering a five-year-old girl, is reluctant to discuss his crime. He prefers to complain about the fact that Lahat, fearing he'll try to escape, has confined him to his cell block until the ward's main quadrangle is covered with fencing.

Lahat and Yefet are careful to treat sexual offenders, and other inmates whose crimes are especially repugnant, with the same decency afforded all the boys. But this does not mean the crime is forgotten.
"As long as he denies committing it, we don't even let him leave for furloughs," Lahat says. "And when he finally admits to it, he starts going though group therapy, run by a specialist in juvenile sex crimes.
"It's a very long-term process."

"Maybe he'll be able to get over his problem," adds Yefet.

"Maybe, thanks to treatment available here in the prison, where, after all, he'll spend six or seven years of his life, he'll develop some sort of mechanism to make sure there won't be another victim who suffers."
Alek claims such optimism is unfounded. "Imprisonment (in the juvenile ward) is completely worthless in terms of rehabilitation and treatment," she says. "The prison sentence is a sort of surrender."

Levy-Shay confirms that there is no reason to believe that Israel's 70 to 75 percent recidivism rate does not equally apply to juvenile convicts.

Nonetheless, the staff at the Sharon Prison juvenile ward remain determined to focus on that quarter-chance of rehabilitation.

"We'll give each inmate all the services available," says Yefet. "I don't see it as an indulgence, or that the institution is too pleasant or nice.

"We want to return him to society, if not completely reformed, then at least somehow improved."

Monday, April 17, 2000

Case of Yitzhak Mordechai

Case of Yitzhak Mordechai
(AKA: Itzik Mordechai, Itzchak Mordechay)

Former Defense Minister - Jerusalem, Israel

Netanya, Israel
Former Member of Knesset - Jerusalem, Israel
Former OC Northern Command (Major-General) - Israeli Defense Force
Former Law Student - Bar Ilan University, 
Former Graduate Student - Haifa University, Haifa, Israel
Former Undergraduate Student - Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel
Immigrated to Israel - 1949
Born in Iraq - 1944

Convicted sex offender.  

April, 2001 -- Convicted on charges of sexual assault and and sentenced to an 18-month suspended jail term.

June 1996 -- was appointed Minister of Defense of Israel. He was fired by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in early 1999 when it was learned that he was planning to join a new centrist party.

July 1999 -- Appointed Minister of Transport and Deputy Prime Minister. He resigned after being accused of sexual assault.

March, 2001-- He was convicted of sexually assaulting and harassing two women and was given an 18-month suspended sentence.


Disclaimer: Inclusion in this website does not constitute a recommendation or endorsement. Individuals must decide for themselves if the resources meet their own personal needs.

Table of Contents:

  1. Candidate's Fact File:Yitzhak Mordechai (1999)
  1. Israeli Minister May Face Assault Charges (04/17/2000)
  2. Indicting Inappropriate Behavior (04/20/2000)
  3. Israeli minister on sex charges (05/25/2000)
  4. Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs Bio (06/25/2000)
  1. Israeli Official Is Found Guilty On Sex Charges (03/21/2001) 
  2. Israeli politician guilty of sex charges (03/21/2001) 
  3. Yitzhak Mordechai guilty of sexual assault (03/21/2001) 
  4. Ex-Israeli Defense Minister Convicted (03/22/2001) 
  5. Once a hero of Sephardi politics, Mordechai guilty of sex charges (03/23/2001) 
  6. Israel watches hero fall in sex harassment case (03/23/2001) 
  7. Women's groups blast 'lenient sentence' for disgraced minister  (05/01/2001) 
  8. Gone Are The Days, Almost (06/04/2001)
  1. Ex-minister Mordechai seeking court's acquittal  (01/13/2004)
  2. Ex-minister asks court to reconsider appeal in sex abuse case By Yuval Yoaz, Haaretz Correspondent (12/09/2004)
  1. What the IDF is hiding with a towel (08/16/2005)

  1. Former Defense Minister allowed entry to US  (05/23/2008)

  1. Where did you disappear, Yitzhak Mordechai? (04/08/2009)

  1. Jewish Virtual Library - Yitzhak Mordechi (10/19/2013)
  1. Knesset Member (01/09/2014)


Candidate's Fact File: Yitzhak Mordechai
Jerusalem Post - 1999

Party: Center (moderate center).
Year of birth: 1944.
Place of birth: Iraqi Kurdistan.

Education: He has a BA in History from Tel Aviv University and an MA in Political Science from Haifa University. He was studying, and has since postponed, his studies in Law at the Herzliya "Michlalah" and Jewish Studies at Bar Ilan University because he took up a high profile public position. Former OC Northern Command (major-general).

Former political positions: Member of Knesset since 1996. Served as defense minister in the Netanyahu government (1996-9).

Basic positions: Favors continuation of the peace process. Advocates "a different style of leadership." Strongly identified with the weaker parts of the population.

Strengths: First serious Sephardi candidate for prime minister. Considered balanced in his positions. Religiously traditional, thus not opposed by the religious parties. Folksy charm.

Weaknesses: Said to carry a grudge regarding his non-appointment as chief of General Staff. Regarded as a "political traitor" by many Likud supporters, because of his decision to join and lead the Center Party.

According to latest opinion polls:  Chances of winning if he reaches second round: excellent. Chances of reaching second round: slim. Where votes will go if he does not reach second round: most to Barak, some to Netanyahu.

Yitzhak (Itzik) Mordechai -- Military commander and politician. Born in the Kurdish part of Iraq in 1944, he grew up in Tiberias in a national religious family. He was drafted into the IDF in 1962 and served for 33 years. During the Yom Kippur War he was decorated for bravery in the battle of the Chinese Farm, when he commanded a Paratroop unit. Following the Lebanon War he was appointed OC Paratroop Brigade. Following the terrorist attack on bus No. 300 near Ashdod in April 1984, Mordechai, then a brigadier-general, was suspected of involvement in the beating to death two Palestinian terrorists who had been captured alive, but were subsequently brought dead to hospital. He was cleared by a military court.

Mordechai was promoted to major-general in 1986, after which he served as OC Southern, Center, and Northern commands. During the intifada, when Mordechai was OC Southern Command, he was considered to favor using violent methods to suppress the violence. As OC Northern Command, he commanded Operation Accountability to strike back against terrorists in Lebanon in July 1993. He resigned from the IDF in October 1994, after failing to be appointed deputy to Amnon Lipkin-Shahak when the latter was appointed chief of General Staff.

In the course of his military service, Mordechai earned a BA in political science and Jewish history. After his resignation from the IDF he started to study agriculture and take courses toward an MA in political science. He participated in courses at the Sde Boker College on the heritage of David Ben-Gurion.

Mordechai joined the Likud in March 1996. In the Likud primaries before the elections to the 14th Knesset he unexpectedly came first and was appointed defense minister in the government formed by Binyamin Netanyahu in June 1996. In this job Mordechai was one of the more popular members of Netanyahu's government, and gained the sympathy of many in the Left for his positive attitude toward the peace process with the Palestinians, and especially his contribution to the attainment of the Wye agreement. Mordechai objected to a unilateral withdrawal from Lebanon, and pushed for the appointment of the Iranian-born Shaul Mofaz, rather than Matan Vilna'i, as Israel's 16th chief of General Staff.

Growing differences of opinion with Netanyahu over the implementation of the agreements with the Palestinians, and growing personal mistrust in him, led Mordechai to start talks with the leaders of the new Center Party -- Amnon Lipkin-Shahak, Dan Meridor, and Ronni Milo -- about the possibility of leaving the Likud and joining them. On the evening of January 23, 1999, while Mordechai was meeting with the three at his home, and just several minutes after receiving a letter from Netanyahu informing him that he had decided to fire him, the prime minister announced his decision on live television, accusing Mordechai of unbridled ambition and disloyalty. Soon after it was announced that Mordechai would lead the Center Party and be its candidate for the premiership. Unlike the other leaders of the Center Party, Mordechai is traditionally religious and less committed to granting equality to the non-Orthodox Jewish religious streams in Israel. He is also the first Sephardi candidate for the premiership in Israel.


Israeli Minister May Face Assault Charges
Mideast: Police recommend indictment of transport chief Yitzhak Mordechai over three alleged sexual attacks
By Tracy Wilkinson
New York Times - April 17, 2000

JERUSALEM — Police on Sunday recommended that Yitzhak Mordechai, a senior and popular member of the Israeli government, be indicted on charges of sexually assaulting three women during the past eight years.
The case began last month with allegations by a 23-year-old female secretary who worked for Mordechai. It mushroomed as other women came forward with accusations.
Declaring his innocence, Mordechai, a decorated career army officer before he entered politics in 1996, said Sunday that he welcomed a trial as a chance to clear his name.
"I intend to fight with all my strength for the truth and my reputation," the 55-year-old retired general said in a written statement. He added that if the case goes to trial, he will resign from the government, where he serves as transport minister and deputy prime minister.
If prosecuted and found guilty, Mordechai could face up to seven years in prison. His is the latest scandal to jar the upper echelons of Israeli politics, further eroding public trust in the government. However, most of the other cases involve money and corruption, not sexual violence.
Women's rights activists, who have long complained of rampant sexual inequities in the military that shaped Mordechai, praised the swift police investigation and said the case will encourage women to stand up for fair treatment. Israel is one of the few countries in the world where young women complete compulsory military service alongside young men, and many of these women have said that they felt constrained from speaking out against sexual harassment and abuse.
"It's time that men understood that they cannot use their force, their status and their authority to sexually harass and hurt women," said Rina Bar-Tal, chair of the Israeli Women's Network.
Mordechai played a key role in last year's national elections and helped take Prime Minister Ehud Barak to a sweeping victory over the incumbent. He had served as defense minister in the previous, right-wing government of Benjamin Netanyahu but quit and formed his own centrist party. He then became the first Sephardic Jew to make a serious run for the premiership. His decision in the end to abandon the race tipped the balance in Barak's favor.
In recent months, though, a seemingly dispirited Mordechai has not been much of a player in the government. And his Center Party wields minimal influence.
His departure, if it came to pass, would not jeopardize Barak's ruling coalition. But it would prevent Mordechai, as a dove with strong military credentials, from galvanizing support for peace agreements that Israel is attempting to reach with its Arab neighbors.
Police investigators said Sunday that their five-week probe turned up evidence credible enough for Mordechai to be indicted on three counts of "indecent acts committed with force." One involves the 23-year-old secretary, who alleged that Mordechai attacked and groped her in his Transport Ministry office. The second involves a married woman who said Mordechai attacked her when she went to his home after he offered to help her find a job in 1996, when he was defense minister. The third alleged incident also reportedly occurred at his home, in 1992.
In contrast to other embattled politicians, the gruff Mordechai, who is married to a former employee 27 years his junior, did not seem to have many supporters rallying to his defense Sunday. Israeli television made a point of his isolation, noting that he was holed up at his home for hours Sunday night without a single visitor.
"It is a pity," said President Ezer Weizman, who narrowly escaped prosecution earlier this month on fraud and bribery charges. "But the law is the law, and it doesn't matter how senior we are and what our status is."
It is now up to state prosecutors to decide whether to go to trial, a determination likely to be made after Passover, which begins Wednesday night.


Indicting Inappropriate Behavior  Israeli law counters sexist culture, gets tough on sexual harassment

By Helen Schary Motro
Jewish Journal - April 20, 2000

Sexual harassment hit the Israeli headlines with a jolt this week when police recommended that Transportation Minister Yitzhak Mordechai be charged with three counts of sexual assault.

The recommendation that prosecutors hand down an indictment against Mordechai came a week after another sexual harassment case ended in tragedy, when the accused victimizer committed suicide while in police custody.

Yehuda Naveh, head of the Tel Aviv branch of Kupat Holim, the largest health fund in Israel, hanged himself April 10 in his jail cell after being arrested at his office a day earlier.
The arrest came after a senior female employee in Naveh's office filed a complaint last week alleging a long series of sexual attacks.

In the course of their investigation, police secretly filmed a video that allegedly showed Naveh making explicit sexual advances, holding her paycheck in one hand and fondling her with the other, and persuading her not to cry out as he assaulted her.

At the request of Naveh's family, a Tel Aviv judge has ordered an investigation into the suicide.

This bombshell hit the country days before the police made their recommendation regarding Mordechai.

Last month, a young female employee in Mordechai's office accused the veteran army general and former candidate for prime minister of repeatedly assaulting her and making sexual propositions.

While headlines around the world focused at the time on possible breakthroughs in the peace process, the Mordechai scandal monopolized the Israeli media. Radio stations broadcast verbatim the accuser's replies during her lie detector test, including explicit details of the alleged sexual attacks.

Several other women have since come forward to add their accusations about improper advances allegedly made by Mordechai during his long career in the army.

The accusations come against the backdrop of one of the most progressive sexual harassment laws in the world.

The 1998 Prevention of Sexual Harassment Law encompasses every sector of Israeli society -- the workplace, military, educational and health systems -- and provides for imprisonment, fines and punitive compensation for sexual harassment. It also allows civil suits for damages.

The law defines sexual harassment in the widest terms: as sexual contact, repeated unwanted sexual speech, propositions or innuendo, sexual blackmail or debasing references to a person's gender.

In cases involving minors, patients and where the harasser is in a position of direct authority over the victim, the conduct is prohibited even if consensual.

The law is gender neutral and has been applied against educators in cases of same-sex harassment involving pupils.

Because it places liability not only upon the harasser but the institution where it takes place, the law's power is exponentially increased.

Every employer and institution is obliged to disseminate the law, to appoint a person responsible for complaints and to investigate them promptly. If not, they are as liable as the person implicated.

It is no secret that the Israeli military is a hothouse for exploitative sexual relationships, according to Dafna Izraeli, head of a new program in gender studies at Bar-Ilan University.
It has been common for pretty young female soldiers to become "trophies" of the commanders, Izraeli says, who adds that an aura of permissive license has traditionally permeated the military.

Last year, in a case that attracted intense attention, the Supreme Court blocked the army's promotion of Brig. Gen. Nir Galili, who had been accused by a 19-year-old recruit of engaging in intimate sexual relations with her while he was commander of her base.

The Galili verdict sent a strong message that prompted the head of the military police to complain, "We've reached a state where I can't kiss a woman soldier on the cheek when she's discharged."

But recalling similar incidents that were never revealed, one female veteran said sadly, "There are dozens of Galilis."

Similar instances of coercion are believed prevalent in the workplace, which is overwhelmingly dominated by male managers.

The Israel Women's Network, which maintains a hotline and provides legal assistance, estimates that only one in 10 cases is reported.

Women in certain segments of society are especially vulnerable to unwanted advances.
Russian immigrants "absolutely desperate to keep their jobs would not dare to say no," says sociologist Larissa Remennick. "If there is a new law, it has made no difference to them. Foreign workers, with even less status, are the easiest prey."

Religious women are considered another easy target. They fear that filing a complain would lead to the possibility of jeopardizing their children's chances for marriage.

Arab women fear that raising the issue could backfire under their society's honor code. Criminologist Nadera Shalhoub Kevorkian says that if Arab women complain, they put their lives on the line.

Esther Sivan, the Israel Women's Network's legal adviser, stresses that going public may damage the complainant's reputation and expose her to ridicule, she says.

May Tzabor, an attorney for the women's organization Na'amat, agrees.

"Women still pay the price," she says. "Employers fail to protect women after they have spoken up. They are seen as troublemakers and themselves turn into the accused."

Despite such fears, the current social atmosphere contributes to judges' readiness to convict, according to Wafa Zoubi Fahoum, a Haifa lawyer whose practice includes defending those accused of harassment.

Ahuva Oren-Pines, administrator at the Herzlia Interdisciplinary Center, said there is "no doubt that the law makes men nervous. But the prevalence of harassment in society made it imperative that something be done."

At the very least, writer Atara Ofek said last week, "sexual power games will have to be a lot more sophisticated from now on."

Israeli police are recommending that Transportation Minister Yitzhak Mordechai be charged with three counts of sexual assault.

Mordechai, who took voluntary leave from the post when the investigation was opened last month, could face a seven-year jail term if convicted.

The police allegations issued Sunday -- of "debased acts carried out with force'' -- are stronger than a sexual harassment charge.

The recommendations followed a police probe launched after a 23-year-old female employee in Mordechai's office accused him last month of repeatedly assaulting her and making sexual propositions.

Her charges were followed by accusations against Mordechai by other women, dating back to his years in the military.

One woman said Mordechai assaulted her in 1996, when he was defense minister. Another filed a complaint over an alleged 1992 incident, when Mordechai was head of the Israel Defense Force's northern command.

Police said the statute of limitations had expired in more claims filed by other women.

In a statement, Mordechai continued to maintain his innocence. He said he hoped prosecutors would dismiss the police recommendations but was ready to go to court if they did not.

A decision by the attorney general to charge Mordechai would not only sully the image of Prime Minister Ehud Barak's government, but would also hinder Barak's efforts to get support for his peace moves, when and if significant progress is made on the Syrian and Palestinian tracks.

Mordechai, a political moderate, was viewed as a supporter of the peace process in a Barak cabinet that includes hawks.

Moreover, Mordechai's problems have provided fodder for Barak's opponents. The prime minister had promised a clean government during his election campaign.

Along with Mordechai, police recommended indicting Mordechai's driver and the head of the minister's Tel Aviv office for obstruction of justice.

The two are suspected of trying to convince the 23-year-old employee not to file a complaint against the minister.

The Mordechai scandal is the latest in a series of scandals involving political figures.

Earlier this year, police recommended that former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu be charged with bribery, fraud and breach of trust.

Police are continuing to investigate the finances of nonprofit organizations that worked in Barak's campaign last year.

Citing insufficient evidence and the expiration of the statue of limitations, police earlier this month recommended closing an investigation of President Ezer Weizman for cash gifts he received from a millionaire friend while serving as a Knesset member and Cabinet minister.

The attorney general is due to make a final decision, but Weizman has already hinted he may step down from his post before his term ends in 2003.

Israeli minister on sex charges
Yitzhak Mordechai: First Israeli minister to face sex charges
BBC - May 25, 2000

Senior Israeli cabinet minister Yitzhak Mordechai has been charged with three offences of sexual assault, the justice ministry has announced.

Mr Mordechai, 55, is expected to resign from his cabinet post of transport minister next week, a statement said.

He is accused of attacking three women, including a 23-year-old employee who was allegedly locked in his office, thrown to the ground and groped.

Mr Mordechai has insisted that he did not carry out the assaults, but has previously said he would resign if charges against him went ahead.

It is the first time in Israeli history that a minister has faced sex charges.

Women's groups had demanded Mr Mordechai's resignation
A statement released by the justice ministry on Thursday confirmed that the case would go ahead.

"Attorney General Eliyakim Rubinstein decided Thursday to start judicial proceedings against Yitzhak Mordechai for three cases of sexual assault," said a statement, quoted by the French news agency.

It said the attorney-general would seek to remove Mr Mordechai's parliamentary immunity.
Mr Mordechai, who was born in Iraq, formed his own party, the Centre Party, after being sacked as defence minister by former prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu in January 1998.

Series of scandals
He was given the post of transport minister after entering the coalition government of Prime Minister Ehud Barak.

Mr Mordechai had already stood down temporarily from the post while the accusations against him were investigated.

The allegations against Mr Mordechai are the latest in a series of scandals to hit the Israeli political elite in recent months.

Mr Barak's election fund-raising activities have been under investigation, along with alleged fraud and corruption by Mr Netanyahu and his wife.

An inquiry into corruption allegations against Israeli President Ezer Weizman was dropped, when police recommended that no further action be taken against him.


Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs Bio
June 25, 2000


Israeli Official Is Found Guilty On Sex Charges
New York Times -  March 22, 2001

Yitzhak Mordechai, a former defense minister and transportation minister, was convicted today of committing ''indecent acts'' against two women subordinates. The court said that Mr. Mordechai had tried to use force to molest the women.

It was the first time that a senior Israeli official had been convicted on such charges. Women's groups called the conviction an important step toward combating sexual harassment, which they say is a common abuse of power here.

Mr. Mordechai, who stepped down as transportation minister when he was indicted last year, said he would appeal the conviction. But it probably thwarts his political future after a swift, unexpected tumble from the top echelon of Israeli political life.

Mr. Mordechai, an Iraqi-born Kurdish Jew, had been a popular politician whose climb from poverty to military and political success was considered trail-blazing for Israelis of Middle Eastern descent. He ran as the first Sephardic candidate for prime minister in 1999, pulling out of the race in its final days when it was clear that Ehud Barak would win.

Mr. Mordechai, 56, looked pale and thin today as he emerged from a Jerusalem courthouse where he was found guilty of assaulting a female officer who served as his subordinate in the 1990's and of assaulting a political activist when she applied for a job in his defense ministry several years later. The prosecutor portrayed Mr. Mordechai as a politician who compulsively exploited his status to corner women subordinates and force himself on them.

Mr. Mordechai was found not guilty of sexual harassment of a clerk in the transport ministry because of what the court said were inconsistencies in her testimony. The clerk was the original complainant whose allegations, the most recent, caused the police to open an investigation into Mr. Mordechai.

''On the main central charge that began the whole process the court acquitted me,'' Mr. Mordechai said. ''I intend to fight with all my might until my last breath to prove my innocence and I believe I will.''

This afternoon, Mr. Mordechai announced that he would take a leave from Parliament pending the outcome of his appeal. Other lawmakers pushed for his outright dismissal.


Israeli politician guilty of sex charges
BBC - March 21, 2001

An Israeli court has found former Defence Minister Yitzhak Mordechai guilty on two charges of sexual assault in a case activists have hailed a turning point for women's rights in the country.

I will take all legal action to prove my innocence-- Yitzhak Mordechai

Once tipped as a possible future prime minister, Mr Mordechai could face seven years in jail after being convicted of making unwanted sexual advances.

Mr Mordechai - who is the first senior Israeli public official to be convicted of sex offences - says he is innocent and plans to appeal. Sentencing is expected in April.

His prominence has generated intense media interest in the trial. Israeli women's groups sought to focus attention on the case, saying that sexual harassment is rarely prosecuted in the country.

The court is sending a very clear message to men...they can no longer say, 'We didn't know' --Zehava Galon, Israeli legislator

Speaking after the verdict, Mr Mordechai, looking pale and drawn said: "I plan to fight with all my might in order to prove my innocence."

Outside the court women demonstrators chanted: "Which part of 'No' don't you understand".

Unwelcome advances
The case came to light a year ago when a 23-year-old employee at the Transportation Ministry said Mr Mordechai had shoved her onto a couch and put his hand under her blouse.

After the accusations were made public, two other women - a former soldier and a political activist - came forward with accounts of unwelcome sexual advances.

The court dismissed the charges brought by the Transportation Ministry employee, saying her testimony was inconsistent, but convicted Mr Mordechai of sexual assault and sexual harassment in the other two cases.

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon described the verdict as a regrettable event, and said he hoped that Mr Mordechai would "continue his legal battle and prove his innocence."

The highly decorated former general resigned as transport minister last May after first being charged, but remains a member of parliament.

Yitzhak Mordechai guilty of sexual assault 
By Naomi Segal
JTA - March 21, 2001

JERUSALEM, March 21 (JTA) – In a ruling that Israeli women’s groups are hailing as a landmark, a former Cabinet minister and candidate for prime minister has been convicted of sexually assaulting and harassing two women.

In its ruling Wednesday, a Jerusalem court cleared Yitzhak Mordechai of similar charges brought by a third woman, citing inconsistencies in her testimony. But the judges stressed this should not be interpreted as a repudiation of the woman’s claim.

The third woman, identified only as S., was a secretary in Mordechai’s office when he served as transportation minister under former Prime Minister Ehud Barak.

It was this woman’s complaint that prompted prosecutors to investigate Mordechai – and which ultimately persuaded the two other women to come forward with their own complaints.

Mordechai, whose wife left him after the allegations surfaced, faces a maximum of seven years in prison. He is expected to be sentenced next month.

Jeered by a group of women as he emerged from court, a haggard- looking Mordechai insisted he was innocent.

“I will fight with all my strength and to my last breath through every legal process to prove my innocence,” Mordechai told reporters after the verdict was read out.

Mordechai had accused the media of a witch-hunt, and his attorney, Dror Arad Ayalon, accused the media and police of “conspiring” against his client.

Supporters said Mordechai had been charged with acts that were a norm in the Israeli army and political circles for decades.

But women’s organizations hailed the ruling as a breakthrough in efforts to combat sexual harassment, saying it would encourage more women to come forward.

“It says the rules of the game have changed,” said Zehava Gal-On, the Meretz legislator whom S. first approached with her complaint.

Mordechai stepped down as transportation minister last year when charges were filed against him. Though he remains a Knesset member, he has been virtually absent from legislative activity in the past year.

Mordechai said Wednesday he would suspend further participation in the Knesset until a decision is made on the appeal he lodged against the verdict, according to the Jerusalem Post.

Mordechai had served as defense minister in the government of former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

In 1999, after a split with Netanyahu, he left the Likud and ran for prime minister at the head of the newly formed Center Party, becoming the first major Sephardi candidate for prime minister.

In a televised debate during the campaign, his verbal attacks broke the calm of the usually unruffled Netanyahu and were cited as a turning point in the campaign.

Just days before the May 1999 election, Mordechai stepped out of the race, leaving the opposition field open for Barak, who eventually won.

Mordechai went on trial last November for committing forced indecent acts on the three women while serving in the army, as defense minister and as transportation minister.

On Wednesday, Mordechai was found guilty of attacking one of two women, identified only as A., who was a soldier in his office when Mordechai headed the army’s northern command in the 1990s.

In one incident in 1992, Mordechai drove A. to a secluded area near Safed and tried forcibly to kiss her. When she resisted his advances, he made her walk back to the base in the dark.

In another instance, he brought A. to his apartment in Netanya and then forcibly lay on top of her, wearing only a towel.

Mordechai also was found guilty of committing forced indecent acts against the second woman, N., a Likud activist he invited to his home to discuss a job for her when Mordechai was defense minister.

The court said it found no substantiation of Mordechai’s claim that the complaint from the third woman, S., was part of an attempt by rivals to “politically assassinate” him.

The judges also said they found inconsistencies in Mordechai’s own testimony.


Ex-Israeli Defense Minister Convicted

Mideast: Yitzhak Mordechai faced sexual assault charges. 'The rules of the game have changed,' a female lawmaker says.

By Mary Curtus
New York Times - March 22, 2001

JERUSALEM — Former Defense Minister Yitzhak Mordechai was convicted Wednesday of sexually assaulting and harassing two women, a verdict hailed by activists as a turning point for the treatment of Israeli women.
Mordechai, 56, emerged from the Jerusalem Magistrate's Court after hearing the verdict and told reporters that he is innocent. "I will take all legal action to prove my innocence," said the highly decorated former general, who in 1999 ran for prime minister.
He cut his remarks short and sped away in a car when female demonstrators outside the courthouse began chanting, "You cannot be raped into silence" and other slogans.
Mordechai, the most senior Israeli official ever convicted on sexual charges, later announced that he is suspending his membership in the Knesset, Israel's parliament, pending an appeal. He could receive a maximum of 14 years in prison when he is sentenced next month.
"This conviction comes to tell men, 'Gentlemen, the rules of the game have changed,' " said Zehava Galon, a leftist female member of the Knesset. "There is a new line now between that which is permitted and that which is not."
It was a complaint made by Mordechai's 23-year-old secretary to Galon last year that triggered a police investigation. At the time, Mordechai was transportation minister and one of the most popular officials in then-Prime Minister Ehud Barak's government. He was the first Israeli Jew of Middle Eastern origin to have been a serious contender for prime minister.
Analysts predicted Wednesday that his political career is over.
"A suspended sentence is possible, but in any case, Mordechai's public career ended today," said Moshe Negbi, the legal affairs analyst for state-run Israel Radio.
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, speaking to reporters in New York during an official visit, said that he thought the case was regrettable and hoped Mordechai would "continue his legal battle and prove his innocence."
In its ruling, the court dismissed the charges brought by the secretary, saying her testimony had been inconsistent. But it convicted Mordechai on the charges brought by two women who came forward after the initial allegations were made public.
One woman, a former soldier who served with Mordechai, said he attacked her in his home in 1992 when he was the head of Israel's northern command. A third woman said Mordechai attacked her in 1996, when he was defense minister and she went to his home after he offered to help her find a job.
As defense minister in the right-wing government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Mordechai broke with Netanyahu over what he said was the premier's failure to pursue peace with the Palestinians. He then ran against Netanyahu in 1999. It was Mordechai's withdrawal from the three-way race that helped secure Barak's victory.
Women's rights activists have complained for years that sexual harassment in the military, where Mordechai spent most of his career, is rampant and pernicious. Israel is one of a handful of countries that make military service compulsory for both men and women.
"The great significance [of the verdict] is in the message to women who were sexually assaulted . . . [and] who dared to file a complaint even when the man concerned was in a high position of power," said Tal Korman, national director of a network of nonprofit centers for sexual assault victims.
In its verdict in the nonjury trial, the court dismissed Mordechai's argument that he was the victim of a political smear campaign.
"The defendant's version wasn't cohesive," wrote the three-judge panel. "He claimed that it was all libel meant to destroy him politically but was unable to point his finger at the people behind this libel. We found no evidence to support his claim."

Once a hero of Sephardi politics, Mordechai guilty of sex charges
Jewish Telegraphic Agency - Friday March 23, 2001

JERUSALEM -- In a ruling that Israeli women's groups are hailing as a landmark, a former Cabinet minister and candidate for prime minister has been convicted of sexually assaulting and harassing two women.

In its ruling Wednesday, a Jerusalem court cleared Yitzhak Mordechai of similar charges brought by a third woman, citing inconsistencies in her testimony. But the judges stressed this should not be interpreted as a repudiation of the woman's claim.

The third woman, identified only as S., was a secretary in Mordechai's office when he served as transportation minister under former Prime Minister Ehud Barak.

It was this woman's complaint that prompted prosecutors to investigate Mordechai -- and which ultimately persuaded the two other women to come forward with their own complaints.

Mordechai, whose wife left him after the allegations surfaced, faces a maximum of seven years in prison. He is expected to be sentenced next month.

Jeered by a group of women as he emerged from court, a haggard-looking Mordechai insisted he was innocent.

"I will fight with all my strength and to my last breath through every legal process to prove my innocence," Mordechai told reporters after the verdict was read out.

Mordechai had accused the media of a witch-hunt, and his attorney, Dror Arad Ayalon, accused the media and police of "conspiring" against his client.

Supporters said Mordechai had been charged with acts that were a norm in the Israeli army and political circles for decades.

But women's organizations hailed the ruling as a breakthrough in efforts to combat sexual harassment, saying it would encourage more women to come forward.

"It says the rules of the game have changed," said Zehava Gal-On, the Meretz legislator whom S. first approached with her complaint.

Mordechai stepped down as transportation minister last year when charges were filed against him. Though he remains a Knesset member, he has been virtually absent from legislative activity in the past year.

Mordechai said Wednesday he would suspend further participation in the Knesset until a decision is made on the appeal he lodged against the verdict, according to the Jerusalem Post.

Mordechai had served as defense minister in the government of former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

In 1999, after a split with Netanyahu, he left the Likud and ran for prime minister at the head of the newly formed Center Party, becoming the first major Sephardi candidate for prime minister.

Just days before the May 1999 election, Mordechai stepped out of the race, leaving the field open for Barak, who eventually won.

Mordechai went on trial last November for committing forced indecent acts on the three women while serving in the army, as defense minister and as transportation minister.

On Wednesday, Mordechai was found guilty of attacking one of two women, identified only as A., who was a soldier in his office when Mordechai headed the army's northern command in the 1990s.

In one incident in 1992, Mordechai drove A. to a secluded area and tried forcibly to kiss her. When she resisted his advances, he made her walk back to the base in the dark.

In another instance, he brought A. to his apartment in Netanya and then forcibly lay on top of her, wearing only a towel.

Israel watches hero fall in sex harassment case
(NZ) Herald - Friday March 23, 2001

JERUSALEM - In a spectacular fall from grace that has transfixed Israel, Yitzhak Mordechai - former Defence Minister, decorated war hero and candidate for the premiership - faces prison after being convicted of sexual assault.

The verdict, applauded by women's rights campaigners, marks the end of the political career of a former general who was widely viewed as a public figure of impeccable standing and a role model for Israel's Sephardi population - Jews of Spanish or Portuguese descent.

Less than four years ago, he was being warmly received, as a minister under Benjamin Netanyahu, with an honour guard at the Pentagon.

Trembling, and on the verge of collapse, Mordechai emerged from the Jerusalem magistrate's court after being found guilty of having assaulted a woman under his command in the early 1990s and a second woman, a political aide, while he was in charge of the Defence Ministry.

The court found insufficient evidence to support a third assault charge levelled by a temporary worker with whom he worked when he was Transport Minister in the Government of Ehud Barak.

Mordechai said he would campaign to overturn the convictions. "I intend to fight with all my might ... and with all possible legal measures, to prove my innocence, and I believe that I will do that."

When he is sentenced next month he faces up to seven years in prison.

The case dominated news headlines, causing Israelis to switch their attention from the continuing violence to allegations of how the 55-year-old took one of his victims to his apartment, where he slipped to the bathroom, stripped off, lay on top of her and tried to kiss her.

Scandals in Israel, as in the United States, have become part of daily political life. In the last two years alone, they have engulfed a former President (Ezer Weizman, for accepting cash gifts), a former Interior Minister (Ariyeh Deri, now in jail for accepting bribes) and Ehud Barak's 1999 election campaign team (under investigation over alleged election finance law violations).

But this case threw the spotlight on the treatment of women in Israel, where activists have long complained that this kind of behaviour is commonplace in military and political circles. They greeted the verdict as a watershed.

"The court is sending a very clear message to men that the rules of the game have changed," said Zehava Galon, a liberal parliamentarian. "Men can no longer say, 'We didn't know'."

Since the scandal broke, Israel's armed forces have reported a sharp increase in the number of women willing to lodge complaints about sexual harassment.

Until recently, Mordechai's star was rapidly on the rise. In 1999, he was a contender for prime minister, but dropped out at the last minute to give Ehud Barak a better chance against Netanyahu.

The Iraqi-born soldier, who is of Kurdish Jewish origins, was the first Sephardi Israeli to run for the premiership.

In 1984, he was blamed for beating to death two Palestinians who were under interrogation, but it emerged that senior officials in Israel's Shin Bet security service had framed him. The agency's own operatives were responsible.

Although he acknowledged pistol-whipping the captives, he won much praise in Israel for his stoic handling of the affair.


Women's groups blast 'lenient sentence' for disgraced minister
by Joseph Millis
Jewish Chronical (London) - May 1, 2001

Israeli women's rights activists harshly criticised a suspended sentence handed down on Monday against former Defence Minister Yitzhak Mordechai, convicted on charges of sexually assaulting two female subordinates.

A three-judge panel gave Mordechai an 18-month suspended sentence, after convicting him in March of two of three cases brought against him.

Two male judges wrote that they weighed Mordechai's public achievements in determining the sentence. The dissenting judge, a woman, said the defendant should have served time in jail because of the severity of the offence.

Labour MK Yael Dayan, a women's rights activist - and the daughter of the late Moshe Dayan - said the sentence "bordered on the scandalous. The court sent a message here that the offence isn't all that terrible."

Tal Korman, who runs a centre to aid sexually abused women, said Mordechai should have been sent to prison. "The court is sending a very murky signal about sexual abuse," she said.

Last May, a 23-year-old employee at the Transport Ministry filed a complaint against Mordechai, the minister at the time, alleging that he had shoved her onto a couch and put his hand under her blouse.

After the accusations were made public, two other women - a former soldier and a political activist - came forward with similar allegations of sexual assault by Mordechai earlier in his career.

The court rejected the charges brought by the Transport Ministry employee, saying her testimony was inconsistent, but convicted Mordechai of sexual assault and sexual harassment in the other two cases.

Mordechai, stone-faced as he left the courtroom, said, "I am certain of my innocence, and I will appeal every verdict until I am found innocent."

Friends and supporters of Mordechai were in the courtroom. They rejected the sentence. "He was accused of something that was proved not to have happened," said Zvi Weiss, a friend, referring to the charge that was rejected.

Mordechai faced a maximum of seven years in prison. The prosecution is considering an appeal against the leniency of the sentence. "He exploited his rank. He abused his power," prosecutor Eli Abarbanel told army radio.

Legal commentator Moshe Negbi objected to the suspended sentence. "I am a father with a daughter serving in the army," he told Channel 1 TV. "I think that every father should be worried if this sentence blurs the message that military rank must not be exploited to take advantage of his daughter."


Gone Are The Days, Almost
By Netty C. Gross
The Jerusalem Report - June 4, 2001

Was 1999 just two years ago? The question was posed one recent morning by an elderly resident of my Jerusalem neighborhood as she sifted through a stack of old newspapers before tossing them out. Indeed, glancing through the tabloids, those seemed, by comparison, such innocent times. Jordan's King Hussein was alive; Internet companies were sizzling; the peace process, however wobbly, was limping along; and, Yitzhak Mordechai, who had been fired as Bibi Netanyahu's defense minister, was being touted as a candidate for prime minister. ("It will either be Netanyahu and Barak, or Netanyahu and Mordechai" in the expected runoff, wrote one pundit.)

Accompanying photographs portrayed a thick-set, confident Mordechai shaking hands with Shas spiritual leader Ovadiah Yosef; another, at his 1997 wedding to a woman 25 years his junior. "And look at him now," sighed the woman, about 80. "He looks terrible. Skinny like a pencil. And his wife left him. It's so sad," she said wringing her hands.

At that moment, a neighbor - an 18-year old female soldier recently drafted intothe army - breezed by. In her case, two years really does make a difference, I observed silently. Just yesterday, it seemed, she was a kid; now, the uniform. There was something touching in her transition from shy schoolgirl to confident soldier.

Something scary too. In late April, two male judges - who evidently shared the older woman's sympathy - sentenced Mordechai, the highest-ranking Israeli public official and only prime ministerial candidate to ever be convicted of sexual assault, to an 18-month suspended jail term, explaining that they were averse to sending one of the country's greatest war heroes to prison. The third judge, a woman, wrote the dissenting opinion in favor of a four-month jail sentence.

According to the March verdict, on two separate occasions Mordechai attacked women who fended off his advances: One, an officer who worked for him in 1992; another, a married Likud activist who applied for a job in 1996 when he was that party's defense minister. For years they remained silent. It was the news that another woman had complained of a similar assault that led them to come forward.  Ironically, Mordechai was acquitted of attacking her.

The state prosecutor's office is weighing an appeal against the sentencing, and Mordechai plans to appeal the verdict. The former jovial, contented pol, who has lost a ton of weight and developed an angry, haunted demeanor, continues to insist on his innocence. My elderly neighbor, for one, bought the ex-defense minister's victimizer-turned-victim act and felt he'd suffered enough. "And now, with the security situation what it is ... to jail a general?" she mumbled.

But it is the young draftee neighbor's world now. A friend, a leading academic who served decades ago under Mordechai, told me, quite casually, that "this stuff had been going on all the time. Girls used to come out of his office crying. But things are much better today."

Women's groups reacted with expected anger at Mordechai's light sentence; spokeswomen for Na'amat and WIZO and the Israel Women's Network say they are taking a wait-and-see approach, planning to wage both legal and public campaignsif the state does not file an appeal. Still, one can't help but notice a certainlack of public rage. A Saturday night demonstration in Tel Aviv was only attended by several hundred women. Na'amat legal counsel Michal Baron says Israelis are "just beginning to understand that what Mordechai did was a criminal offense and not an acceptable macho norm." Men, she says, like Mordechai, for whom women "are mere chattels" and Israeli women - like my elderly neighbor - who have been browbeaten into accommodating the situation, are "transitional figures."

And yet Baron, who recently represented Na'amat in a Supreme Court plea to overturn the appointment of Lt. Col. Yaron Be'eri to commander of the Southern Command's logistics unit, after receiving several complaints from married women soldiers about Be'eri's abusive behavior - including screaming, intimidation andmaking humiliating remarks about their job performance - acknowledges the difficulties of this transition period. The Mordechai conviction, she says, "wasa watershed event for us. That a man of his stature was found guilty is quite extraordinary. It's still very hard to get a conviction in these type of cases. The witnesses, typically, are terrified to come forward. This is a small country, and women are afraid to lose their jobs or get a reputation as a trouble-maker. It's also often hard to remember details in these type of cases, and the defense lawyers are very aggressive. Many women just crumble on the witness stand."

The judges, adds Baron, who says she anticipated Mordechai's light sentence, are also something of a mixed bag. "Some understand the severity of sexual harrassment, what it does to a woman to go through something like this, others don't." Still, Baron believes "there have been many positive changes. New social norms, which reflect the belief that aggressive male behavior toward women is not acceptable, are starting to sink in."

But not fast enough. Indeed, early May has seen a rash of violent sexual attackson young women by males, including the gang rape of a 17-year-old in Rishon Letzion, and the sodomizing of a 13-year-old girl in Ashdod by three youths. In the former case, one defendant simply said that he was just "having some fun."

I wonder what the elderly woman, who'd held on to those old, beaming press photos of Mordechai, thinks of that.


Ex-minister Mordechai seeking court's acquittal
By Yuval Yoaz
Haaretz - January 13, 2004

Former defense minister Yitzhak Mordechai, left, with his attorney, Ram Caspi, arriving at the Jerusalem Magistrates' Court where closing arguments were heard yesterday in his legal action against a previous conviction for sexual harassment.

According to Mordechai, a letter written by one of the women after the trial could lead to his acquittal. The judges hearing the case will hand down their ruling at a later date. (Yuval Yoaz)


Ex-minister asks court to reconsider appeal in sex abuse case By Yuval Yoaz, Haaretz Correspondent
By Yuval Yoaz, Haaretz Correspondent
Haaretz - December 09, 2004 Kislev 26, 5765

Former defense minister Yitzhak Mordechai asked the Supreme Court on Thursday to reconsider its decision not to hear his appeal of a conviction on sexual harrassment charges.

The Supreme Court refused to hear Mordechai's appeal last month, thereby putting an end to the former minister's three-and-a-half-year effort to overturn the ruling.

Mordechai was originally convicted in 2001 by the Jerusalem Magistrate's Court of sexually harassing two women. He appealed the conviction to the district court, which upheld it, and then to the Supreme Court.

His Supreme Court appeal centered on a letter written by N., one of the women Mordechai was convicted of harassing, some time after his conviction, in which she ostensibly retracted her complaint against him. Mordechai argued that this was grounds for overturning the conviction.

But Justices Mishael Cheshin, Eliezer Rivlin and Edmond Levy said the evidence that N. had been coerced into writing this letter was so strong that the attorney general should open an investigation into whether the pressure applied to her constitutes a crime in and of itself.

"We discovered a worrying development: an attempt to alter the results of a legal proceeding by cooking up a piece of evidence," Levy wrote for the court. "Such a phenomenon must not be overlooked. We therefore request that all the investigative material be transfered to the attorney general for an inquiry into whether any of those involved in the affair committed a crime."

However, the justices added, even had N.'s letter not been coerced, its wording indicates that she "was not expressing regret for having incriminated an innocent man, but rather sorrow for the suffering that his trial and conviction caused him."

Therefore, it could not constitute grounds for reversing the conviction, and there was no reason for them to bother hearing the appeal. Since Israeli law entitles a litigant to only one appeal, the court was not required to hear the case.

The justices stressed that given the evidence before them, the magistrate's court had been justified in deciding to convict, and they lambasted an attempt by Mordechai's lawyer to claim that his client's harassment of N. was merely "friendly."

"It would not be superfluous to once again recall that Mordechai bent over N. with the intention of having intimate relations with her, and if her claim that she did not consent to this is true, it is hard to understand what `friendliness' has to do with acts such as this," Levy wrote. "A woman's consent to physical contact of this nature is not self-evident, and Mordechai should have clarified this before stooping over N. and stretching his hand toward her breast."

What the IDF is hiding with a towel
By Amir Oren
Haaretz - August 16, 2005 Av 11, 5765

After a delay of decades, Israel Defense Forces soldiers are now enforcing the law in the territories. So much law is being enforced in the Gaza Strip and northern Samaria (West Bank) that too little of it is left for the army inside Israel. At the Gelilot base, where the members of a respected committee pose for souvenir photographs in officers' uniforms, it again emerges that in the army's dictionary, law is a flexible term.

Law for the private and the captain is one thing, and for the major general - something quite different. Woe betide the stupid offender who is caught while he is still in the middle ranks. If you climb to the top of the ladder, you will not be caught, and if you are caught, your friends will come to your aid.

Thus, the tale of a soldier who gave a lift to a female soldier from Safed to Bat Yam, with a stop along the way in Netanya: The soldier, according to the judge advocate general, "wanted to stop to refresh himself at his apartment in Netanya, on false pretenses. She waited on the sofa for him to finish showering. He came out of the shower wearing only a towel, sat down beside her and suddenly lay down on her, tried to undress her and kissed her, ignoring her resistance. He rubbed his sexual organ against her crotch and at a certain stage stopped what he was doing. Then she crawled out from under his body and left the apartment hurriedly. The magistrate's court convicted him, after determining that it believed her. The district court approved the conviction, after confirming that she had been subjected to `compelling force.'"

An embarrassing matter. Had the soldier been a major, the JAG would have asked to have him demoted to staff sergeant or second lieutenant; a colonel - to captain. Three ranks, at least, as has been customary during the 50 years of the existence of Article 533 in the Military Trial Law, which allows the demotion of commanders who have been convicted of offenses that involve moral turpitude and their expulsion from the career army or from the reserves, even if the offenses, the courts and the convictions were civilian. The article is supposed to be a deterrent to those who are keen to hang on to their ranks as a selling point in their civilian lives and in politics, and also to prevent military people from seeking refuge in civilian courts.

But the soldier is Yitzhak Mordechai, who was convicted of committing an indecent act in aggravated circumstances on a female officer, his personal secretary, when he was GOC Southern Command, and of committing an indecent act on a female political activist when he was defense minister, again the very model of a major politician who preaches to the ranks. From Netanya to Motza, the behavior pattern of the serial attacker did not change: an invitation on some pretext to his apartment, overwhelming, the application of force, determined mauling, cease-fire, disengagement.

Mordechai's supporters do not understand what the problem is here: A sex offender is one thing and a major general is another. The JAG, Brigadier General Avihai Mandelblit, understands. He puts Mordechai's deeds "at the upper threshold of the scale of indecent acts" and also speaks about another threshold, "the threshold of behavior expected of an officer," which rises as the officer advances in rank. Therefore Mandelblit is demanding "a real blow" to his rank, the implication being a demotion by three ranks.

Mandleblit's demand was met with a forgiving attitude at the Vinograd-Yaari-Telraz committee, one of whose members, Aviezer Yaari, is a major general in the reserves. His colleagues, retired Supreme Court Justice Eliyahu Vinograd and attorney Yosef Telraz, received representative acting ranks of major general and in the blink of an eye began to radiate a sense of belonging to the major generals' club. There is no woman on the committee; among the six judges who convicted Mordechai, the two women were severe and the men were lenient.

To do well by Mordechai and to justify a decision that will affect his rank but little, if at all, the members of the Vinograd committee made requests of both sides: It asked the JAG "to consider whether it is possible to submit a new, revised and refined position" and it requested from Mordechai's attorneys "a document that details his life and activities."

Ram Caspi, one of the lawyers representing Mordechai, was hasty at first and expressed bitterness. "This isn't Buzaglo," said Caspi, referring to the Israeli surname used colloquially to indicate an average, possibly lower-class citizen. "The judges realized that this was Yitzhak Mordechai. Do they need his personal file? They didn't send him to prison. Had it been anyone else, maybe he would indeed have gone to prison."

Thus Mordechai is supposed to benefit twice. He was not sent to prison, because he is a major general, and he will remain a major general, because he was not sent to prison.What Mordechai will say of himself is not hard to guess. But this is not necessarily the only version.

The public and Mordechai's victims apparently do not have any standing with the Vinograd committee. The army, which is not ashamed of what was concealed behind Mordechai's towel, has left its owner to the JAG's determination. Much depends on Mandelblit's ability to stand up to pressure in the committee and the media, to defend the IDF's values from the major generals' club and to appeal the decision, if he believes it contradicts these values, in the Military Court of Appeals.


Former Defense Minister Mordechai allowed entry to US
By Itamar Eichner
YNet News - May 23, 2008

Visa granted after Olmert tells US officials Mordechai rehabilitated, does not pose threat to American public despite sex offenses

Former Defense Minister Yitzhak Mordechai was granted a visa by the US embassy in Tel Aviv at Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's request, Yedioth Ahronoth reported on Friday.

 Mordechai's initial request for a visa, which was filed some four months ago, was rejected by the Americans due to his past conviction for sexual misconduct.

However, during President George W. Bush's first visit to Israel Olmert asked a number of senior US officials intervene in the matter while taking into account that Mordechai had been rehabilitated and does not pose a threat to the American public.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak's office also turned to the Americans on Mordechai's behalf. 
Meanwhile, Mordechai also filed an appeal with the American embassy, which was reportedly debated among some of the highest-ranking officials in Washington. The appeal was eventually accepted and Mordechai flew to US a few days ago for a 10-day private visit.

During his tenure as defense minister between 1996 and 1999 under then-prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Mordechai was considered the darling of the US administration and was a welcome guest at the White House and the Pentagon. 


Where did you disappear, Yitzhak Mordechai?
Mako - April 8, 2009
(Translated using google - original Hebrew article below)

General courageous defense minister and convicted favorite sexual offenses disappeared from the public eye. We found him working abroad, meeting with friends, read a lot of books, and most importantly - enjoy life. Concerning one is not going to touch: business security. "This is not what I served and for that I contributed," he says

Once they captured the headlines - for better or worse, and now they are gone. News 2 online circulars special section to the people who disappeared from the public to find out where they are today. And this time - General and Defense Minister Yitzhak ways.

Brilliant political career of former candidate for prime minister was cut short when he was convicted of serious sexual offenses. Nine years after his resignation, Mordecai describes himself today as an individual.

"I try to contribute wherever I can," he said today in a conversation with the new Web 2. "I donated three and half years in Sderot to Operation Cast Lead, another six months in Kiryat Shmona during the Second Lebanon War, and even a few months Ashdod tumultuous period."

"Happy to contribute"
Mordechai, an attempt perhaps to rehabilitate his name since his conviction bed rose disgrace, highlights the desire to contribute as much as he can. "I was in complex situations, I walked all communities what they need in all areas of welfare, care in underserved populations, working with government agencies. I'm happy I had the time to contribute."

Although he retired from public life official, for him is still on a mission. "All my life's mission," he says. "34 years ago I was on a mission: In front of all four commands, defense minister and minister of transportation. Would never knowingly something political system, but on the contrary".

Today Mordechai is a business that works mostly abroad. He rents an apartment at the Towers faithful "in Tel Aviv and explains that he is satisfied with life." Today I deal with civilian issues for a living, "he says." Do not have big eyes. I live well, without pretensions to conquer the world. "

There is no security
Unlike other senior military officers flocking line of business - security, Mordecai tries to get away from security concerns. "I do not make my living anything about security sector either directly or indirectly," he says. "I've had enough offers throughout the Middle East, even in Iraq - only give advice - and I refused." 

and he has an explanation for this fundamental decision. "I swore when I was younger, and when I was in charge of the systems to the highest, what people are willing to do for money I will not do," he says. "This is not what I served and for that I contributed."

Mordechai surprising even the organizers and the number of the largest sporting event in the world had rejected attractive offers."Some people asked for advise in the security at the Olympics in China," he says. "I have not touched, even by a millimeter. Saw where respected members came, and I said that than I will live and come to life."

These days there Mordecai himself much longer than before. "I practice a lot more, meet friends for years waiting to meet" he says.But now his greatest love is books. "Today I read a lot of books," he says. "I read books of all kinds. Gulping them at a rate of every two schools. Before, when I was a public figure, I fell asleep after 10 pages. Well now that I have time."


לאן נעלמת, איציק מרדכי?

האלוף האמיץ, שר הביטחון האהוב והמורשע בעבירות מין נעלם מעין הציבור. אנחנו מצאנו אותו עובד בחו"ל, נפגש עם חברים, קורא הרבה ספרים, ובעיקר - נהנה מהחיים. בדבר אחד הוא לא מתכוון לגעת: עסקים ביטחוניים. "לא בשביל זה שירתי ולא בשביל זה תרמתי", הוא אומר. כתבה ראשונה בסדרה

 | חדשות 2 | פורסם 04/08/09 17:44
איפה הם היום? איציק מרדכי
בעיקר קורא ספרים. יצחק מרדכי, ארכיון
צילום׃  חדשות 2
פעם הם כבשו את הכותרות – לטוב ולרע, והיום הם נעלמו. חדשות 2 באינטרנט חוזרים במדור מיוחד אל האנשים שנעלמו מעין הציבור כדי לברר איפה הם היום. והפעם – האלוף ושר הביטחון לשעבר יצחק מדרכי.
הקריירה הפוליטית המזהירה של מי שהיה מועמד לראשות הממשלה נקטעה באחת כשהורשע בעבירות מין חמורות. תשע שנים לאחר התפטרותו מהממשלה, מרדכי מגדיר את עצמו היום כאדם פרטי.
"אני משתדל לתרום היכן שרק אני יכול", הוא אומר היום בשיחה עם חדשות 2 באינטרנט. "תרמתי שלוש שנים וחצי בשדרות עד מבצע עופרת יצוקה, עוד חצי שנה בקריית שמונה בתקופת מלחמת לבנון השנייה ואפילו מספר חודשים באשדוד בתקופה הסוערת".
"מאושר לתרום"
איציק מרדכי על מדים
האלוף מרדכי. ארכיון
צילום׃  חדשות 2
מרדכי, בניסיון אולי לשקם את שמו מאז הרשעתו שהמיטה עלו קלון, מדגיש את רצונו לתרום ככל שיוכל. "הייתי במצבים מורכבים, ליוויתי את הקהילות בכל מה שהיו צריכים, בכל התחומים: רווחה, טיפול באוכלוסיות חלשות, עבודה מול משרדי הממשלה. אני מאושר שהיה לי את הזמן לתרום".
למרות שפרש מהחיים הציבוריים הרשמיים, מבחינתו הוא עדיין בשליחות. "כל חיי היו שליחות", הוא אומר. "34 שנים הייתי בשליחות: בחזית בכל ארבעת הפיקודים, כשר ביטחון וכשר תחבורה.  לעולם לא אנצל משהו ממערכות המדינה, אלא להיפך".
היום מרדכי הוא איש עסקים שפועל בעיקר בחו"ל. הוא שוכר דירה ב"מגדלי נאמן" בתל אביב ומסביר שהוא מרוצה מהחיים. "אני מתעסק היום בתחומים אזרחיים לפרנסתי", הוא אומר. "אין לי עיניים גדולות. אני חי טוב, בלי יומרות לכבוש את העולם".
אין ביטחון
איציק מרדכי בתערוכת האוויר בפריס
בוחן נשק חדש לישראל. 96
צילום׃  AP
בניגוד לקציני צבא בכירים אחרים שנוהרים לתחום העסקי-ביטחוני, מרדכי משתדל להתרחק מענייני ביטחון. "אני לא עושה למחייתי שום דבר שקשור לתחום הביטחוני, לא במישרין ולא בעקיפין", הוא אומר. "היו לי מספיק הצעות ברחבי המזרח התיכון, אפילו בעירק - רק לתת ייעוץ - וסירבתי". 
ויש לו גם הסבר להחלטה העקרונית הזאת. "נשבעתי בצעירותי, וגם כשהייתי מופקד על המערכות הגבוהות ביותר, שמה שאנשים מוכנים לעשות בשביל כסף אני לא אעשה", הוא אומר. "לא בשביל זה שירתתי ולא בשביל זה תרמתי".
מרדכי מפתיע ומספר שאפילו ממארגני אירוע הספורט הגדול ביותר בעולם היו לו הצעות אטרקטיביות שדחה. "היו כאלה ביקשו שאייעץ בתחום הביטחוני באולימפיאדה בסין", הוא מגלה. "לא נגעתי, אפילו במילימטר. ראיתי להיכן הגיעו חברים מכובדים, ואני אמרתי שלא מזה אני אחיה ואתקיים".
בימים אלה יש למרדכי הרבה יותר זמן לעצמו מאשר בעבר. "אני מתאמן הרבה יותר, פוגש חברים ששנים חיכינו להיפגש" הוא אומר. אבל האהבה הגדולה שלו עכשיו היא ספרים. "היום אני קורא הרבה ספרים", הוא אומר. "אני קורא ספרים מכל הסוגים. גומע אותם בקצב של כל יומיים ספר. פעם, כשהייתי איש ציבור, הייתי נרדם אחרי 10 עמודים. היום גם לזה יש לי זמן".

Jewish Virtual Library - Yitzhak Mordechai 
October 19, 2013


Knesset Member Bio
January 9, 2014



Some of the information on The Awareness Center's web pages may contain copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc.

We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.

For more information go to: . If you wish to use copyrighted material from this update for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." –– Margaret Mead