To mark 25 years since the murder of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin on November 4, 1995, the Tel Aviv-Yafo Municipality is launching a major educational and experiential initiative in partnership with the Yitzhak Rabin Center.
The aim of the project – “I remember, friend” – is to “improve and rejuvenate the visitor experience at the Yitzhak Rabin Memorial at Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square, providing accessible and relevant information about Rabin’s murder and its impact on Israeli democracy to all age groups.”
As Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai put it “The murder of Yitzhak Rabin is a memory for me, but it represents distant history for our youth. Some of them sadly do not even know who Rabin was, nor his way: love for the land of Israel, dedication to the Zionist idea, and, of course, striving for peace. It is of great importance to tell the story that unfolded on November 4 to the younger generation. There is no more appropriate location for this lesson than the entrance to the municipal building – the place where an evil attacker took the law into his own hands and influenced the course of history.”
Unfortunately, as memorials to fallen heroes go, little is mentioned in all this remembering of the circumstances that led up to the murder of an Israeli prime minister, and the role he had in widening the gap between left and right, secular and religious, green line and liberated territories – a gap that eventually took his life.
The period following the signing of the Oslo Accords in September 1993 was a time of turbulence in Israel. A wave of suicide bombings in 1994-1995, in which dozens of Israelis were murdered, many of them in the country’s major cities, caused a sharp rift between the right and the left.
The right accused the government led by Yitzhak Rabin of leading to the terrorist attacks, and an extensive public campaign was waged against the government policy and Rabin. Several right-wingers, including MKs, argued that the narrow leftwing government relying on the support of Arab factions did not possess the authority to give up territories in Judea and Samaria. Some compared Rabin’s coalition to Jewish collaborators with the Nazis.
Numerous protests were held across the country, some of which included blocking intersections. The Zu Artzenu (This is our Land) movement led by Moshe Feiglin led a non-violent civil uprising against the Israeli government. The cries “Rabin is a traitor” and “Rabin is a murderer” were heard in rightwing demonstrations. Posters showing Rabin wearing a kaffiyeh and embracing Arafat were hung around the country and hoisted at right-wing demonstrations.
In March 1994, in a demonstration at the Raanana junction with opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu, the demonstrators carried a coffin with the inscriptions “Israel is in danger,” “Rabin kills Zionism,” and “Rabin buries Zionism.” They wrapped hanging ropes around their necks.
A cabinet meeting was held following those demonstrations where the possibility of prosecuting individuals who incite for harming the prime minister.
As the Oslo process progressed and another interim agreement was signed giving the Palestinians self-government in their major cities and in 450 villages in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza, the country was torn up by strife and rage. In August, a young motorist tried to push Meretz Minister Yossi Sarid’s car off the road. And on October 2, a Pulsa diNura ceremony was held in front of Rabin’s residence in Jerusalem (Pulsa diNura – “lashes of fire” in Aramaic – is a Cabbalistic ceremony enlisting the destroying angels to block the divine forgiveness of the subject’s sins, thus causing all the curses named in the Bible to befall him, resulting in his death).
On the night of the Knesset debate of the Oslo Accords part B, a demonstration of tens of thousands took place in Zion Square in Jerusalem, where rightwing leaders spoke, Rabin’s pictures were set on fire, and and “Death to Rabin” calls were heard. Several hundred demonstrators marched from the square to the Knesset plaza and destroyed the cars of government ministers and coalition members.
Knesset Speaker Shevach Weiss (Labor) denied Knesset member Hanan Porat (NRP) the right to speak in the plenum because of the riots and shouted at him to go and “Calm down your people out there.”
During and after those demonstrations, a poster was displayed showing Rabin wearing an SS uniform. One of its copies was handed over to a TV reporter by a Shin Bet General agent named Avishai Raviv, who, it was later turned out, was also the operative assigned to Yigal Amir, later the Prime Minister’s assassin.
Some in the left-wing camp warned against the attack on Rabin by far-right activists. In the rightwing camp, Aharon Domb, a member of the Yesha Council, warned in a letter to Rabin: “We, for our part, are making every effort, but I have found it appropriate to warn you of this and say that if you continue in this way you will bear at least ‘indirect liability’ for the satanic action of an individual.”
The Shamgar Commission of Inquiry was set up to investigate the Rabin assassination, and its objective was to investigate the chain of events leading up to the assassination and the reaction of the organization responsible for the safety of the prime minister. Much of the above recollection was taken from its report.
The report determined that the assassination was made possible as a result of security failures at the scene, lack of coordination between various bodies responsible for security, non-adherence to instructions and procedures, leading to a lax security ring. It was critical of the Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security service, for exposing the Prime Minister to “serious risks,” and for failing to act on threats to the prime minister’s life by Jewish extremists.
The commission had nothing to say about threats by the now-deceased prime minister against Israeli Jews, extremists and otherwise. The video below points to Rabin’s almost pathological disdain for the settlement enterprise in Judea and Samaria, calling the settlers “a cancer” and the settlements “a [expletive] place.”