After the Second Assassination

A second assassination is not like a first assassination. After the second assassination, the dam of blood would burst and the thunder on a clear day would be as the thunder on a stormy day, and it would deteriorate into a routine.

The wind that so profoundly shook Israel nine years ago, that foul wind, is once again battering the country, shattering mountains and shattering people. Once there was a high mountain here, on which we cast our eyes, and nine years ago it was shattered. Does anyone not have the courage now to arise from his slumber, forget his petty quarrel, and say - wind be gone, wind be gone - and change the nation's mood?

And the present wind is even more foul than it was then. Then, in 1995, we did not yet have the bitter experience, and we still allowed ourselves to say - we're different, it won't happen to us. Today we already know that it did happen, and the candles have been lit, but a serious reckoning has not really been made; and that which was still is, unless we come to our senses and exorcise this spirit of terror. And we will not exorcise it if we sing to it only melancholy songs of friendship in the city square; we will not exorcise it if those who generated the wind then do not change their ways now: We are still waiting for them to say something, now more than ever. No one can any longer benefit from the doubt and argue that he didn't know, that he wouldn't have believed. Even the famous handwriting on the wall is now a caricature: The whole wall is one big handwriting.

The lesson of the binding of Yitzhak has not been learned. If in the initial years following the assassination it seemed momentarily that people had repented their sins and changed their ways, it is now clear that nothing has changed in our world, and that it is an insane world. The destroyers and ravagers again are creeping forth from their dark dens to find their prey. The life of Yitzhak Rabin left us an entire heritage, but one doubts that in his death he left us anything. All told, it was a worthwhile assassination, because not only was the man assassinated, the course he had charted was entirely disrupted as well. Maybe that same night we could have seen through the faint smoke that the sacrifice was not found acceptable. Once I thought he was the most alive dead man among us. Now I think he may be the deadest dead man.

Once again we hear a chorus of voices legitimizing the bloodletting, again people are telling us what is the divine will and invoking God's name in vain; once again, the law enforcement bodies are seen to be powerless and fainthearted. There are many sounders of alarm and caution at the gate, but no one raises a finger to shut the gate and defend our democracy.

Over what will Israel be destroyed, heaven forbid? It will be destroyed over an atheism of faith. And what is this existential faith? It may be found in the consensus among us over the source of authority; will we never succeed in reaching this consensus, which is an essential and adequate condition for our existence here? If we do not succeed, then the Third Temple will be destroyed just as the Second Temple was destroyed, and it would be destroyed not due to baseless hatred, but due to a blind and murderous nationalist zealotry that had no boundaries. The source of authority must be consensual, single and uniform, common to us all, without exception - that is democracy, and its legitimate elected institutions, without which it would not exist.

Let each of us seek advice from whomever he wishes, let us "make ourselves a rabbi" to our liking, let us even accept a higher authority that is seemly to us, but the decision is placed solely in the hands of the elected democratic institution. If every person in Israel, every public emissary, had his own source of authority, we would not survive it. If all of us would draw from a single wellspring of decision-making authority, the water that we would draw would be waters of life. If all of us drew his or her authority from a different wellspring, they would be putrid waters that would poison us, and we would die.

A second assassination is not like a first assassination. After the second assassination, the dam of blood would burst and the thunder on a clear day would be as the thunder on a stormy day, and it would deteriorate into a routine. Then the whole world, and we, would learn that this is how Israel solves its crises - with a pistol shot. If democracy is not allowed to have its say, then the right to speak is given to the handgun.

And meanwhile, the elders of the tribe, the old sinners, do not change their ways. They wash their hands of it and still say - our hands did not spill this blood; our eyes did not see the bloodletting.