A Voice From Hebron -- November 9, 1997
The assassination of Yitzchak Rabin, not surprisingly, ignited a backlash of venomous hatred by the left toward the alleged "right wing" in Israel, as well as toward religious Jews of all types. It was declared that all who protested the treason of Oslo were, in some way, responsible for the murder of the prime minister.
Posters and slogans calling Rabin a traitor were now held up as instruments of murder. Yet those who used the same kind of slogans, and even worse, against former prime minister, Menachem Begin, and Ariel Sharon in the past, had every right to express their feelings in such a crude manner since no one murdered either one of them. It is the height of hypocrisy to listen to cries for peace and tolerance by those who would crush their political adversaries by any means at their disposal.
Last Saturday night a lynch mob gathered in Tel Aviv on the second anniversary of Rabin's death. Tens of thousands came allegedly to mourn for Rabin, but instead turned the gathering into an ugly platform for political opportunism. Members of the government were not welcome nor were Jews wearing kipot. Natan Sharansky, who had the courage to come and attempt to silence the lynch atmosphere, was booed by the crowd.
All week long the Israeli media used the occasion of Rabin's yahrzeit as licence to accuse the Prime Minister of responsibility for the murder. Those who condemned the displaying of posters protesting Rabin, shamelessly displayed a poster showing the late Prime Minster Rabin above another picture of Netanyahu with the phrase "We will not forget. We will not forgive." Implications and outright accusations have been repeated over and over on Israel radio and television suggesting that Netanyahu was somehow responsible for the assassination. And, together with the Prime Minister, all those considered either right wing or religious are included in the self-righteous condemnations.
The elevation to martyrdom of the man who began the process of surrender to the PLO in violation of Israeli law thus placing the Jewish State in the most dangerous situation it has faced since 1948, seems to have silenced all protest to this ugly vilification campaign. Labor Mks have shamelessly petitioned the Knesset speaker not to allow the prime minister of Israel to address the Knesset to commemorate Rabin!
Opposition leader, Barak, wasted no time to use the massive lynch atmosphere of this gathering to castigate the Prime Minister and ruthlessly used the heated emotions of hatred to foster his personal political aspirations and condemn his rival, Netanyahu. He parodied Rabin's peace speech, announcing his military number and comparing himself to Rabin as a war hero pledging to continue to wage the battle for peace begun by his martyred leader.
It would seem that today, much like two years ago, the intensity of righteous hatred and accusations of collective guilt, has reached such a pitch as to silence all opposition and lend a further air of justification to those who spew their poison.
It is incredible that no one from the alleged right seems to have noticed the obvious fact that the predictable result of this assassination is exactly what we see. . . unbridled attacks against the right wing and religious elements of Israeli society.
Rather than react to this ceaseless campaign of venomous hatred, the accused are silenced by their own ridiculous misplaced sense of guilt. In any democratic society people have the right to protest against policies which they feel are harmful to them or to their country. That someone murdered a prime minister who was the object of protest can not, in any way, justify the foisting of blame upon the protesters.
It is this very atmosphere, justifying the concept of collective blame, which enabled an allegedly democratic court to convict Shmuel Sackett and Moshe Feiglin of sedition for the "crime" of organizing peaceful protests against a government which disregarded the will of the governed.
Netanyahu never would have dreamed of as much as vilifying Rabin. The former prime minister did that to himself better than anyone ever could do. Netanyahu would have certainly won the election had there not been an assassination. It is nothing less than a miracle that he was elected in its aftermath. Clearly the predictable results of the assassination should have catapulted Peres into an easy victory.
If Peres had had any political courage, he would have pressed for early elections and would have been a shoo-in. Instead, despite the vitriolic hatred toward the right generated by the assassination, Netanyahu managed to defeat him. This was not a predictable result of the assassination, rather an absolute surprise. It is a tribute to the people of Israel to have risen above the mass hysteria and elect Netanyahu at this time.
None the less, it is outrageous that now, while he is in power, Netanyahu has taken no legal action against those who are using the murder of Rabin as a tool to fan the flames of hatred to promote partisan political interests.
One simply cannot turn on the radio or television in Israel without hearing Leah Rabin pronouncing sentence upon all those whom she sees as partners in the murder of her husband. The media elevates the ranting of an anguished widow to the unchallengeable pronouncements of the wife of a demigod.
There is no escape and there is no rebuttal. And they call this democracy.