Twelve years ago on November 5, Yitzhak Rabin
, democratically elected Prime Minister of Israel, was assassinated, according to all responsible evidence, by Yigal Amir. Today is the anniversary of the assassination according to the Hebrew calendar. Accordingly there were, and will be, several official ceremonies at which his memory will be lauded, and his legacy praised in the manner deemed fit by the state.
For me, and many others, the commemoration of this anniversary becomes sadder and more difficult each year. The assassination itself was a great shock. In over 3,000 years of history, the people of Israel have had very few leaders like Yitzhak Rabin. The realization of the improbable goals of Zionism seems to have been made possible, in part, because at each critical juncture, Israel was provided with leaders of exceptional stature, who could see what was needed, and could at the same time, rally the people to do what was needed.
As a person and a leader, Rabin, like others of that generation and the one before it, was very nearly irreplaceable. Nobody else, as it turns out, could be as magnanimous in victory. Nobody else, at the same time, could command the international prestige to face down the terrorists and rally world opinion to Israel's cause in time of need. Will Israel ever have another politician who would voluntarily resign because his wife had a three thousand dollar bank account? Will any army ever have a chief of staff who could ready an army for an operation like the Six Day War
? Comparisons are invidious, but consider Rabin as Prime Minister versus the present incumbent. Consider Rabin as Chief of Staff versus the hapless Dan Halutz. Consider Rabin as defense minister versus Amir Peretz.
The "Oslo disaster" need not have happened with different leadership. The planning and conception presumed that Rabin would always be there to fix what was wrong in adversity. But in the event, he was not there. Yigal Amir took him from us. Even before the unraveling of the peace process, we understood then that Israel would never be the same. We hoped however, that some great moral lesson would be learned, a lesson that would make possible a great national renewal in Israel
It did not happen. Instead, each year most of the public grows progressively more apathetic, while an increasing minority calls for the release of the assassin, Yigal Amir, on the specious grounds that "perhaps he didn't do it" or because they disagree with the politics of Rabin. Since Amir admits, and even brags of his deed, and his wife, even brags that Amir "sacrificed" himself for his people
, this popular support takes on the most sinister import, and it is our unpleasant duty to dwell on its significance. Thanks to a misguided court system, this charming couple will now have a son, who will know doubt be fed on honey and the poisonous beliefs of his parents. He will carry on the legacy of Yigal Amir, and will gather more allies for a movement that can only wreck Israeli society and Zionism. He will be, in the words of the Hebrew bible, a true "Ben Na'avat Hamardut," a son of the wench of rebellion, or in the words of the King James Bible
, a son of the perverse rebellious woman
. What else could he be? And in a few short years, according to Israeli law, Amir himself is due to be set free. What is to prevent him from making us into a nation of Yigal Amirs?
Those who understand what Rabin represented to Zionism
and to Israel
do not need an explanation of the nature of the tragedy that is occurring. Zionism didn't have to die with Rabin, but in a very real sense it may be dead, because are failing.
For some others, who may be muttering about "Oslo traitors," and "leftists," please consider the difference between a state like Israel, and a state like Lebanon, or a society such as the Palestinians have. In such places, there is no sovereignty. It is the situation described in the Book of Judges: In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes
. Gaza, Lebanon, Iraq, are places that are ruled by the Yigal Amirs of their societies.
Amir and his followers can do what no enemy army succeeded in doing, and what no anti-Zionist has succeeded in doing: they can destroy us from within. What a bitter epitaph it would be for the Jewish people, if having risen from the ashes of Europe, overcoming insuperable obstacles and building our state, we were to allow ourselves to be consumed from within by termites like Amir and his wife. Ami Isseroff
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