Once again, the week of the 12th of the Hebrew month of Cheshvan has become a time of public controversy as the country commemorates the murder of former Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin.
The memory of the 12-year-old murder, to which Yigal Amir confessed and of which he was convicted, has opened old wounds and bad blood between the Israeli left and right.
Left-wing spokesmen continue to refer to the widespread right-wing protests against Rabin's policies prior to the murder as "incitement to violence." This, despite the following:
- Amir was, by his own admission, self-motivated. In a video of his police interrogation, screened on national television Monday night for the first time, Amir clearly states that he first conceived of the idea of killing Rabin when the Oslo Declaration of Principles was signed (Sept. 1993).
- Right-wing leaders clearly said that violence was not acceptable in fighting the Oslo process.
- Most importantly, several incidents of anti-Oslo incitement before Rabin's death were actually instigated by the General Security Service (Shabak) itself, with the purpose of discrediting and shaming the right-wing camp. For instance:
- The Shamgar Commission, which investigated the Rabin assassination, found that nationalistic and religious elements were "specifically harmed by Shabak agent-provocateur Avishai Raviv's provocations." In what some saw as a major understatement, the commission concluded that "his GSS handlers could not have been able to ignore this."
- Avishai Raviv admitted, shortly after the murder, that he had staged a swearing-in ceremony for young Jewish members of the "Eyal" militant movement so that it could be shown on television. The ceremony was screened twice on national TV, and brought great criticism upon the nationalist camp. Israel's Media Watch (IMW) filed a complaint with the police against the reporter, proving from the unscreened footage of the ceremony that it was clearly and obviously staged, in violation of the law forbidding public servants from performing acts of trickery and breach of trust. However, the police closed the case - as it did for nearly 20 other cases which involved Shabak agent Raviv.
- The famous "Rabin in SS Nazi uniform" poster: TV broadcaster Nitzan Chen testified to the police that it was Raviv who provided him with a copy of the poster at a Jerusalem anti-Oslo protest, and later verified that the poster would be shown on the evening news. Protestors denied seeing the poster on display at the rally.
- Raviv took "credit," in the name of his fake Eyal organization, for the murder of an Arab in Halhoul - though the killing was later found to have been committed by an Arab.
- Former IMW chairman Yisrael Medad notes that "90% of the so-called right-wing incitement screened by the media at the time featured none other than GSS agent-provocateur Avishai Raviv," whose government-paid job it was to stir up precisely that type of trouble.
Despite his 1992 election promise not to negotiate with Yasser Arafat's PLO terrorist organization, Rabin gave guns and Israeli land to Yasser Arafat in exchange for promises of peace.
The Foreign Ministry has released, in honor of the anniversary, copies of several speeches delivered by Rabin, including his acceptance of an Honorary Doctorate from Hebrew University in June 1967 following the Six Day War (Rabin had been the IDF Chief of Staff during the War); at the signing of the first Oslo Accord at the White House on Sept, 13, 1993; at the signing of the Israel-Jordan Peace Treaty on Oct 26, 1994; his acceptance of the Nobel Peace Prize, which he shared with Shimon Peres and Yasser Arafat, on Dec. 10, 1994, and at the Tel Aviv "peace" rally just moments before he was killed on Nov. 4, 1995.
Opposition to Palestinian State and Concessions in Jerusalem
However, a speech Rabin delivered in the Knesset in October 1995, in which he opposed the formation of a Palestinian state - a stance he repeated on several occasions - was not released. In that speech, Rabin also spoke of his vision for a united Jerusalem: "These are some of the changes that we see and want in the final status agreement: First and foremost, a united Jerusalem, including Maaleh Adumim and Givat Ze'ev, as Israel's capital... a security border for Israel's protection in the Jordan Valley, in the broadest sense of this term... the inclusion of Gush Etzion, Efrat, Beitar [south of Jerusalem] and other communities."
At last year's memorial session in the Knesset, Prime Minister Olmert quoted a passage from the above speech by Rabin: "There are not two Jerusalems. There is only one Jerusalem. As far as we are concerned, Jerusalem is not a matter for compromise."
Former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who also quoted the above passages in a Knesset speech in memory of Rabin in 2003, added that Rabin's wife Leah told him on her deathbed, "with her last remaining strengths, 'Arik, isn't it true that Yitzchak would never, ever have ceded in
The official memorial ceremonies for Rabin began on Monday at the Rabin Center with the participation of the IDF General Staff. Ceremonies are to be held at the President's Residence in Jerusalem with the participation of Jewish and Arab students, and at the Ramat HaSharon Tennis Center. On Wednesday, the 12th anniversary of the killing, ceremonies are to be held at the Prime Minister's Office and Mt. Herzl, and a special Knesset session will be dedicated to Rabin.
On Friday, a group called the Peace Guards will convene at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv, at the site where Rabin delivered his final speech before being killed. On Saturday night, a large rally and main ceremony will be held in his memory.
Education Minister Yuli Tamir, a founding member of extremist left-wing Peace Now, has asked the leaders of the striking teachers to allow the teachers back to work for just one day so that they can take part in memorial ceremonies to take place in schools. "It is a matter of utmost educational importance to have a framework in which the students of Israel can learn the ramifications of this day," Tamir said.
Video Promoting Amir's Release
A video has been circulating calling for the life sentence of Yigal Amir to be shortened, to enable his release at some time in the future. Many MKs and others have condemned the call; Binyamin Netanyahu, for instance, said that as Prime Minister, he would ensure that Amir never be released from prison.
Nationally-famous pop singer Ariel Zilber, who has aligned himself with nationalist causes of late, appears in the film. He later explained to Army Radio that he sees no reason to treat Amir any differently than any other murderer - "especially in light of the wholesale manner in which Palestinian terrorists and would-be murderers are released from prison... And I'm not even sure that Amir killed Rabin; there are many serious question marks about the whole story. Mistakes have been made in the past and people have sat in jail for nothing - and if it turns out that Amir really wasn't the murderer, who will apologize to him?"
MK Ophir Pines (Labor) responded, "These are people who will stop at nothing to advance their interests. I expect the entire right-wing in Israel to condemn with a clear voice this atrocious initiative." Even MK Zevulun Orlev, the leader of the National Religious Party, said, "It is known that behind the campaign to free Amir are disturbed people, who cause the greatest damage to the religious public and towns in Judea and Samaria."
Rabin and Oslo
It remains a matter of debate whether Rabin was in the midst of changing his mind about the Oslo process he began when he was assassinated. Despite this, renowned attorney Yoram Sheftel recently said that with all the talk of the Rabin Legacy, the "true Rabin Legacy, as far as I'm concerned, is the murder of 1,500 Jews with the weapons given [by Israel to] the terrorists during the implementation of the Oslo Accords."
Baruch Gordon contributed to this story.