We would like to offer this advice to those politicians who still spread the canard of Binyamin Netanyahu pursuing a policy of "incitement, as he did at Jerusalem's Zion Square a year ago." Meretz's Yossi Sarid will happily refresh the memory of anyone who may have forgotten what allegedly occurred during that mass meeting in the heart of Jerusalem. With a show of taking the high moral ground Sarid declared this week: "I promise that we will not call Netanyahu a traitor or murderer, or dress him in an SS uniform../..../.."
At the time of the Zion Square meeting, Netanyahu protested vehemently at such manifestations. Challenging anyone to prove that he had used such language, he elicited the reluctant admission from Yitzhak Rabin that he had not. We spelt out in detail in our recent book just who the inciters were in the period leading up to the last election.
After becoming premier Rabin ordered the General Security Service to focus on what he was convinced was a right-wing plot among militant students and settlers to thwart his plans to make peace with the Palestinians in exchange for territory. That policy change resulted in the most dangerous and bitter split ever in Israeli society. After reading Karmi Gillon's warning regarding the danger of a settler upheaval, Rabin's first step was to appoint Gillon GSS boss, brushing aside Gideon Ezra, a skilled professional who had been slated for the job. Protesting what was clearly a political promotion, a number of senior GSS men quit.
In a legitimate operation widely used by security services a number of agents were given the task of infiltrating the settler and student world with the aim of finding an active militant group. None were discovered. Then as the popularity of the Rabin administration slumped following the wave of suicide bomb attacks, the role of secret undercover operatives changed following a high-level decision. It was a step that could not have been taken without the authority of the highest law officers in the land. Full-time paid agents like Avishai Raviv were ordered to join the ranks of groups considered hostile to the government. After they acquired the necessary credibility, they were to act as deliberate provocateurs -- illegal in any democracy.
Raviv was no "rogue elephant." So sensitive was the operation he was involved in that he had some 10 controllers directing his every movement. Since the so- called "militant" students weren't militant enough, Raviv created two more militant groups, the most active called Eyal. Who were the most strident screamers of "Rabin -- traitor, Rabin -- Nazi," at mass demonstrations? Who stood outside the premier's apartment in Ramat Aviv on Fridays cursing Rabin? It was Avishai Raviv urging on his "revolutionaries" against his own boss. Who was behind the video of Eyal teenagers, guns in hand, swearing on the Bible that they would beat up Arabs and leftist Jews? Who then gave it to Israel TV to air to frighten the country into thinking that bands of religious fanatics were about to launch a military putsch? The video was given great prominence, even though one of the young stars admitted to journalists: "The whole thing was staged. It was a lot of fun. The guns were made of wood."
The purpose of all this activity was clear. It gave government ministers from Rabin on down an excuse to warn the country that a right-wing revolution was around the corner. WHEN AN Arab was murdered in Halhoul by men wearing Israeli army uniforms, Raviv boasted that his Eyal boys had carried out the deed. But did the police arrest or even question Raviv? No.
A dozen cabinet ministers reacted just like agriculture minister Ya'acov Tzur, who ranted about "the putrid fruit of the settlers." (This despite the fact that Raviv's masters knew he had invented the story about his group slaying the Arab.) A week later police revealed that Arab thieves had carried out the murder. Only one conclusion was possible: The mud flung at the settlers was an act of deliberate incitement, aiming to smear the right wing with a view to the elections.
On another occasion the Shamgar Commission heard how Raviv had egged on Yigal Amir, urging him to prove his manhood by killing Rabin. Then came the grossest incitement of all: Raviv's recruitment of young religious teenagers to his summer camps on the Kinneret. Clearly inspired by his anti-government sentiments, two youngsters from Jerusalem's Gilo neighborhood photographed a picture of Heinrich Himmler and made a montage bearing Rabin's face. "They handed the posters to Avishai Raviv," said their outraged father. Attached to broom handles, the posters were given to Eyal boys at Zion Square. David Hazan, an Eyal co-founder, protested at this insult to Rabin and tore one poster to pieces. "Raviv beat me up," he protested to police.
The GSS agent provocateur par excellence then handed a poster to a TV crew, returning later to make sure it had been shown that same evening. TV reporter Nitzan Chen told the Shamgar Commission that Raviv had given him the Rabin poster and urged him twice to use it.
During the next month there was an incitement campaign orchestrated by the government and the Hebrew media to smear the religious and settler community using the Rabin poster to drive home their message. We cannot know whether Rabin was aware of just how deeply the GSS leadership had been politicized, or precisely how provocateurs like Raviv operated. The Shamgar Commission was given evidence of Raviv's being a bone fide GSS agent. Clearly his actions were illegal and immoral, as were those -- all the way to the top -- who manipulated him.
Yet all this has been forgotten, or so it seems, particularly by those who had firsthand knowledge of the incitement. Nitzan Chen, for instance, appeared at a Zion Square peace demonstration earlier this week and described where he first saw a poster of Rabin in Nazi uniform. But he "forgot" to relate who had given him the poster in the first place. We believe that in the absence of any commission appointed to examine fully the GSS's major role during Rabin's premiership the false smear will continue to stink.
And the anti-Netanyahu blood libel will continue to be applied by those who mock the biblical injunction against a slanderous lying tongue.
(c) Jerusalem Post 1996
Uri Dan and Dennis Eisenberg are the authors of State Crimes - The Rabin Assassination, published in France.