How Haaretz Links Rabin’s Death to National Religious Pioneers

Haaretz newspaper manages to link an ideological pioneer movement and a “generation of national religious figures” to Rabin’s assassination.

Contact Editor
Hillel Fendel, | updated: 15:06

Knitted Kipot
Knitted Kipot
Israel news photo: Yoni Kepinsky

In a seemingly innocent, historical “This Week in Haaretz, 1974” article, the high-brow newspaper managed to link an ideological pioneer movement and a “generation of national religious figures” to Rabin’s assassination.

In the framework of its new biweekly feature, Haaretz takes a historic event whose anniversary is being marked that week, and reviews its own coverage of the story at the time. Previous articles in the series discussed the 1955 execution in Cairo of two Jews convicted of spying for Israel, and the acquisition of the last of the Dead Sea Scrolls the same year.

Two weeks ago, Haaretz decided to tackle an event that occurred precisely 37 years earlier, namely, the establishment of the Gush Emunim settlement movement.

“The shock waves that jolted Israel after the Yom Kippur War,” the article begins, “and the talks on interim arrangements, including partial withdrawals from the Sinai Peninsula and the Golan Heights, caused some young members of the National Religious Party to found the Gush Emunim (Bloc of the Faithful) movement. Feeling that Israel's political leadership lacked strength and unity, the movement coalesced around leaders Hanan Porat (later a Knesset Member) and Rabbi Moshe Levinger, among others.”

In accordance with historical truth, the article – by Yael Gruenpeter – continues on to highlight the young national religious-Zionist pioneers, quoting Haaretz as saying at the time that "a new bloc in the NRP has decided to act to ensure [the existence of] the Greater Land of Israel and its settlements," and then adding, “This new group was to give birth to the generation of national religious figures symbolized by their knitted skullcaps.”

The article highlights Gush Emunim's idealism – “the bloc's purpose was a complete implementation of Zionism in spirit and deed” – while pointedly and repeatedly emphasizing the term “Greater Land of Israel.”

Abrupt Turn Leaves Reader Stunned
However, towards the end, the article takes an abrupt spin, leaving the stunned reader wondering what he might have missed: “While Gush Emunim was a success, it also caused damage. According to the outlook of its spiritual leaders, a greater authority existed above that of the state… At first illegal settlements without government sanction were erected, and then a small Jewish terror underground took form. Finally, there were demonstrations against the government and Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was murdered.”

With this, the article ends – as does its brief “history” of a movement that led to over a half-million mostly ideologically committed Zionists living in the heartland of Biblical Israel.

(Note: The man convicted of Rabin's murder, Yigal Amir, was not associated with Gush Emunim, and he studied in elementary and high school institutions not at all associated with religious-Zionism.)