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"It looks as though this pregnancy was carefully planned: Larissa Trimbobler, who underwent in-vitro fertilization, is supposed to give birth next Wednesday, the 12th anniversary of Rabin's assassination ... It is hard to believe that this is only a coincidence and we can assume that the beginning of the pregnancy was calculated so that it would end on the day of the assassination" - Yedioth Ahronoth, October 15

Like a virus that has settled in the nerve center, Yigal Amir continues to drive Israeli society crazy. One of the characteristic symptoms is the lunatic conspiracy theories that flourish even 12 years after the Rabin murder. Until this week it seemed as though the virus had spread only among the extremist ideological wing that supports Amir. This week it turned out that it has also attacked parts of the opposing wing, which wants to see the murderer, who is about to become a father, rot in prison to the end of his days.

There is no other way to explain the new conspiracy theory, this time hatched at the mass-circulation daily Yedioth Ahronoth, to the effect that Amir and his wife planned the pregnancy in advance so the birth of their offspring would take place on the Hebrew date of Rabin's assassination (next Wednesday, Heshvan 12). The newspaper claims that even in the hospital, "they are aware of the problematic nature of the date, and fear that Larissa will request an injection on that day to induce labor."

What is the basis for this concern? It's not clear. Someone in the hospital says that "so far Larissa has not requested an induced labor or a cesarean section, nor has anyone requested it on her behalf." Nevertheless, the panic is at its height. "If she asks, we will not be able to deny her request." Oh my.

There is no logic to the theory that attributes to Amir and Trimbobler such marvelous control over the fertility process. It is based only on the fact that the estimated date of birth falls on the 12th anniversary of the assassination. All the rest is artificial hysteria, which stems from the diabolical image of Amir among a certain public, a kind of mirror image of the monstrous way the Shin Bet security service is perceived in the opposition camp. How ironic that the two irrational extremes have joined together in their delusions about conspiracies.

Why should Trimbobler want to give birth on the anniversary of the assassination, of all days? Because she is the partner of the devil; because for her the birth is not a human act but an ideological one, the natural continuation of the murder. This is the primeval view that caused Yedioth to publish the unfounded headline ("Larissa plans to give birth on Rabin's memorial day"), to drag the "concerned" hospital into the story, and to sweep along other popular media that do not believe in coincidences.

What is most infuriating is that at the same opportunity, Trimbobler, a repulsive ultra-nationalist fanatic, was able to appear on every platform as the false victim, with justice on her side. "I have no words as to how far one can go with the desire to slander, to accuse us of planning for a specific date," she said to TV Channel 10. "It's simply nonsense. Maybe you should turn to the Israel Prison Service. They harassed us for two years and did not allow us conjugal visits. Ask them; maybe they planned it."

Like it or not, but she's right. If we're talking about a conspiracy, then Trimbobler's prison-service theory is no less logical than Yedioth's theory of the calculated impregnation.

"There is an ideological aspect here. The moment he expresses regret, he is saying, everything that is happening to me is totally futile. Were it not for the fact that all the government institutions are attacking him at a time when politicians are calling for the release of a man like [Fatah leader Marwan] Barghouti, he might have expressed regret by now" - attorney Shmuel David Casper, Yigal Amir's defense attorney, in an interview on Channel 10, October 15

There is no need to invent dubious theories in order to be opposed to the demand by Amir and Trimbobler that their new family situation be taken into consideration. In any case there are already sufficient reasons not to allow the father-to-be the relaxed conditions he is requesting. True, it really is not easy: Amir repeatedly challenges the justice system when he demands to be granted the rights coming to any other murderer; his supporters are putting human rights activists to a difficult test when they claim that "murder is murder," and that morally and legally there is no difference between someone who murdered the prime minister and someone who murdered his wife.

But then come Amir's defenders, the official and unofficial ones, and make the decision easier. They themselves describe the murder as an ideological act, which will lose all meaning if regret is expressed; they themselves confirm that Amir is not like any other murderer because he remains firm about the moral message of the murder; they themselves turn the murder into a symbol, into a source of identification for an entire political camp.

The fact is that according to the findings of a poll by mass-circulation daily Maariv, 38 percent of the religious public is in favor of an immediate pardon for Amir (as opposed to 14 percent of the general public). Instead of distancing itself from the murder that gave the right-wing camp a bad name, substantial parts of this group prefer to take him under their wing out of basic sympathy for what he symbolizes.

Attorney Casper's baseless analogy between Yigal Amir and Marwan Barghouti is a further illustration of the political nature of the struggle. He considers the idea of releasing Barghouti as part of the attempt to promote a diplomatic process, as something that is of interest to the leftist camp. In his opinion, even suggesting the idea requires that the right be compensated by means of leniency vis-a-vis Amir. If Barghouti is released (for the leftists), Amir, too, will have to be released (for the rightists). In other words, it's not enough to release one terrorist who has been convicted of murdering Jews; in return we have to release another terrorist as well, one who assassinated a prime minister.

The struggle over the rights of the man named Yigal Amir is, therefore, only camouflage for an ongoing political struggle over the image and values of Israeli democracy. Any leniency in Amir's punishment will be seen as a symbolic achievement for the worldview that justifies the assassination of a prime minister in the name of nationalist and pseudo- religious values; any leave that he receives will be interpreted as a victory for the approach that says it's permissible to solve political differences of opinion with gunshots; any visit to the newborn will be interpreted as another stage in the campaign to legitimize the man who plotted against democracy itself.

That is why the state must creatively use all the options available to it, both written and unwritten, to carry out Yigal Amir's punishment without any lenient gestures. Maybe that won't eliminate the centers of sympathy for the murderer, but it will make it clear to future sympathizers that Israeli democracy intends to defend itself.