When an Indecent, Immoral Act is NOT Moral Turpitude

Ramon Considers Returning to Politics, By Dan Izenberg (Jerusalem Post)

Full Text;

Associates of former justice minister Haim Ramon said Thursday that he was to decide on whether to return to politics only after the Pessah holidays.

Earlier, the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court decided to uphold the Ramon’s conviction of committing an indecent act, but ruled that the felony would not carry with it moral turpitude, which would enable Ramon to return to public life, if he chose to do so.

Ramon will still have to carry out 120 hours of community service.

The former justice minister was convicted at the end of January of forcibly kissing a 20-year-old female soldier without her consent. The judges also ordered Ramon to pay the soldier NIS 15,000 compensation.

Upon leaving the court, Ramon’s lawyer, Dan Sheinman, said he had not yet decided whether to file an appeal.

Related reports:

‘Ramon as Minister is an Indecent Act’

State May Appeal Ruling Absolving Ramon of Moral Turpitude

A panel of judges, headed by Hayuta Kochan, rejected the recommendation of the case’s parole board to cancel either Ramon’s criminal conviction or criminal record, or both.

According to the judges, “Canceling a conviction is an unusual measure and the court will use it only in exceptional cases.”

“After a careful examination of the material at hand, we came to the conclusion that the public interest overtakes the defendant’s personal interest. Canceling the conviction in this would blur the message and dim the criminal actions that had been committed,” they wrote.

The court noted Ramon’s public record, which appears to have eased his sentence.

“It is no doubt that the defendant has merit; he is a well-known figure in Israeli public life. Throughout the years, he has served in many senior positions, whether as an MK or a minister in several governments. His public record stands on his side and was taken into consideration in the decision. However, we did not turn a blind eye to the plaintiff’s distress and pain,” the court said.

Regarding the issue of moral turpitude, the judges determined that since “the felony is positioned in the lower threshold of criminal activity, it does not carry with it moral turpitude. The defendant’s punishment is his conviction.”

The exclusion of moral turpitude from the ruling is particularly relevant, as it has been speculated that Olmert may appoint his close ally Ramon as finance minister instead of Avraham Hircshson, who is likely to quit due to mounting allegations of corruption.


A Dictionary.com search on the term ‘moral turpitude’ returns 3 results regarding the term.

The 3 results seem to indicate together;

  • Immoral Conduct
  • Evil Character, Lack of Integrity
  • 1 : an act or behavior that gravely violates the sentiment or accepted standard of the community
  • 2 : a quality of dishonesty or other immorality that is determined by a court to be present in the commission of a criminal offense (a crime involving moral turpitude)

Visalaw.com gives it’s explanation of ‘moral turpitude’;

Moral turpitude is one of the most amorphous concepts in immigration law. There is no definition of moral turpitude, although many courts have attempted to construe one, using phrases such as an act of baseness, depravity or vileness. While there is no set definition, it is clear that the moral turpitude involved must be part of the essence of the offense. A crime involving moral turpitude need not have resulted in a conviction for it to render a person inadmissible, and admitting to an act that has the elements of a crime involving moral turpitude is sufficient to bar entry. Where an actual conviction occurred, the only issue is whether the offense was a crime involving moral turpitude.

In short, the term is amorphous to the extent that it can be exploited by an unscrupulous regime to apply to anything. Thus, 2 contrasting case studies regarding the exploitation and application of the term ‘Moral Turpitude’;

Case #1; Haim Ramon and ‘the kiss’ — Community Service for Kiss;

A court sentenced a political confidant of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to 120 hours of community service on Thursday for forcibly kissing a woman.

The Tel Aviv magistrate’s court concluded that former justice minister Haim Ramon’s conduct did not constitute moral turpitude, meaning he can continue serving as a lawmaker.

But legal analysts said it was not clear if public sentiment over the case will support an effort by Olmert to name him to another ministry.

Ramon had resigned his justice ministry post after the woman, known only as “H” to protect her identity, accused him of kissing her and forcing his tongue through her lips after she put her arm around him to pose for a picture.

Ramon, 56, had argued that the kiss was the natural progression of her flirtation. She denied flirting with him.

Case #2; Moshe Feiglin’s conviction on sedition charges;

In Nov. 1997, Feiglin – as leader of the anti-Oslo Zo Artzeinu (This is Our Land) organization – was sentenced to six months in prison, which he was permitted to convert to six months of public service. He had been convicted two months earlier of “sedition” for organizing massive road blockades in the framework of anti-Oslo protests in 1994. In handing down the sentence, the judges said that the government should learn from this affair to be more attuned to the opinions of large sectors of the society. They said that the defendants carried out a “sincere protest” in pure faith, and that they represented the opinion of many who felt that the government was purposely ignoring them.

Feiglin was not allowed to run in the last Knesset election, by Supreme Court order. In January 2003, the Court sustained the Election Commission’s ruling to disqualify him, claiming that his conviction on charges of “sedition”- for organizing road-block protests of the Oslo Accords – was a crime involving “moral turpitude.” Israeli law states that conviction of such a crime makes one ineligible to run for Knesset for seven years. At the time, Feiglin’s lawyer, Haggai Yekutiel, said that the ruling was a “blow against democracy,” as thousands of people had registered with the Likud party for the express purpose of voting for Feiglin, and that the decision “prevents these citizens from voting for their chosen candidate.”

Isn’t the contradiction and hypocrisy obvious? MB