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April 27, 2015 / 8 Iyar, 5775
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When I Murdered Rabin


Yitzhak Rabin (L.) and Yigal Alon in 1949

Yitzhak Rabin (L.) and Yigal Alon in 1949

Reagan’s attempted assassination was done by John Hinckley Jr. See? No two names – no assassination. I think it’s proper protocol that before someone murders someone important, he should make sure to have at least two first names.

On the other hand, Yigal Amir has only two names.

The November 1995 murder of Yitzhak Rabin brought my career in Hebrew journalism to an end, more or less.

What started it was that Yedioth decided to cut into the territory of Yisrael Shaleim, the main newspaper of yordim (Israelis that leave the home country) in the United States. I had a weekly column there, besides a weekly article and all kinds of additional stuff under various pen names that all together made up my salary. However, the owner, Shmuel Shmueli, paid very little and also bounced checks like he was one of the five openers of the Harlem Globe Trotters.

When Yedioth decided to use the Yedioth America supplement as the ax with which to chop the branch that Shmueli was perched on, they called his writers in for private talks, offering us slightly higher salaries plus the seductive promise that Yedioth won’t ever bounce our checks.

It didn’t take them more than a minute and a half to convince me. That was in 1993.

In 1995, they already knocked out Yisrael Shelanu and Ma’ariv and it came time to start cutting back on needless expenses, such as local journalists. I was unaware of it, naturally, but in the editorial office, they had already hung up my picture with a bull’s eye on my face. There wasn’t any question as to their disposing of me and my weekly check – it was only a question of when.

And I, the idiot with an inflated ego big enough for three people my size, provided them with plentiful opportunities to off me. In my column, you see, I would sometimes aggravate people. It’s what I do. I’m a lonely, lonely man who makes enemies. Or, in other words, a journalist. We’re an unattractive but necessary part of society, like garbage collectors.

Rabin was murdered in November and I decided to work on my eulogy column for his Shloshim (end of 30 day mourning period). It included remarks which could inevitably upset someone here and there, so I dutifully waited a month before publishing a negative piece about the deceased.

What did I write? I was assigned two tabloid-size pages and I wrote about my incident with saying Tehillim that Shabbat afternoon. I wrote that Yitzhak Rabin had been the poster boy of the Palmach and of Israel’s founding generation. I dug and I found (I was already an internet expert at the time) that gorgeous picture of Rabin and Yigal Alon in Gaza during the War of Independence, with the waving hair and the wind and the dust . Wow – what a great picture. And I eulogized him.

In the end I also wrote that Rabin was the Zelig of Israeli politics, a chameleon who changed his personality according to the demands of his bosses, from shooting the “holy canon” at Altalena for Ben-Gurion, through giving the order to break Palestinans’ bones in service of Shamir, and, finally, the suicidal Oslo pact, under the pressure of the Shimon Peres gang.

So I politely waited 30 days before publishing that eulogy, but what I didn’t know was that the memorial ceremony for Rabin in Madison Square Garden, with the huge picture of the departed leader hanging from ceiling to floor, was scheduled for the 40th day after his death for some reason. So on that on Friday, when my column appeared in Yedioth as part of the weekend paper, someone made sure that widow Leah Rabin saw it.

Leah Rabin didn’t pick up the phone to Yedioth America. She went straight to the owner back home, to Nonny Moses. And he called and asked my local bosses if it was true that Yedioth published a column endorsing Rabin’s murder.

They suspended me for two weeks, even though they weren’t exactly able to put into words what I had done wrong, but I understood, and, to tell you the truth, I was happy that they didn’t completely ditch me. Journalists buy fish for Shabbes just like everyone else.

About the Author: Yori Yanover has been a working journalist since age 17, before he enlisted and worked for Ba'Machane Nachal. Since then he has worked for Israel Shelanu, the US supplement of Yedioth, JCN18.com, USAJewish.com, Lubavitch News Service, Arutz 7 (as DJ on the high seas), and the Grand Street News. He has published Dancing and Crying, a colorful and intimate portrait of the last two years in the life of the late Lubavitch Rebbe, (in Hebrew), and two fun books in English: The Cabalist's Daughter: A Novel of Practical Messianic Redemption, and How Would God REALLY Vote.


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