Nehemia Shtrasler has brought a heavy charge against me: For years I’ve been harping that the Shin Bet, through its informant Avishai Raviv, distributed the photomontage showing Rabin in an SS uniform. In other words, that I was leveling an extremely serious accusation against the Shin Bet: initiating a provocation.
The truth is, Shtrasler goes on, that a 16-year-old lad who had nothing to do with the Shin Bet created the poster and he, together with another teenager, distributed it. Thus, he says, there are no grounds for the libel Israel Harel is spreading about the Shin Bet.
So who really distributed the posters? An official commission of inquiry headed by then-Supreme Court President Meir Shamgar investigated Yitzhak Rabin’s murder. And this is what the commission wrote about Raviv: “There is no doubt that Raviv gave the composite photograph to the television. Raviv’s denial of the television reporter’s statement is entirely implausible.”
This week I interviewed a man who took part in that demonstration, when he was 17. “I found myself standing near Raviv and his group, minors who did as he instructed them in carrying out acts of provocation,” he says. “They shouted hysterically, ‘Rabin is a traitor.’ Other youths were also caught up in the shouts. Suddenly Raviv received from somewhere a package of posters of Rabin in SS uniform. Avishai distributed the posters to his youths and urged them ‘distribute,’ ‘distribute.’ He also turned to me: ‘distribute,’ ‘distribute.’
“Then Raviv, accompanied by some of his boys,” he continued, “came up to the television van and pushed a poster into the reporter Nitzan Chen’s hand. The reporter held the poster up in front of the camera and that’s how the protest demonstration turned into an incitement demonstration.”
The picture was broadcast – is any distribution more effective than that? – and since then, with the media’s incessant harping, the mark of Cain was imprinted: The demonstration’s organizers created and distributed the poster. But when the public reacted with disgust and it was condemned, Harel shifted the responsibility, according to Shtrasler, toward the Shin Bet.
>> Read more: Revealed: The People Behind the Notorious Rabin-SS Posters | Opinion
As I said, Shtrasler rushed to clear the Shin Bet and Raviv from involvement in distributing the poster. The Shamgar Commission, in contrast, believes Raviv was both agent and provocateur, and that the Shin Bet was engaged in political provocations: “Any sensible person,” the report says, “understands that intelligence gathering is vital. However, one should beware of acts of provocation. People who act as provocateurs behave in an uninhibited way, partly because no charges will be brought against them. The entire state bears the results,” stated the commission. “For example, undermining the public’s confidence in the Shin Bet. It is tagged as a secret organization that engages in political acts of provocation.”
Meir Shamgar, not Israel Harel, signed his name to these words. And Shtrasler? He has no hesitation in blaming the right, especially the settlers, and me, chairman of the Yesha Council in the gloomy days of terror and blood.
It’s important, then, to repeatedly emphasize Shamgar’s words: The Shin Bet deviated from its duty and acted as an organization that engages in political acts of provocation. The Shin Bet chiefs were never held accountable for this serious charge. Not even Raviv’s personal handlers. I can fill a book with information about the acts of provocation the Shin Bet generated against us in those years, including acts that endangered human life, or made families miserable. For example: to produce intelligence for his handlers, Raviv was sent to start romantic relationships with leading settlers’ daughters. He even married one of them and abandoned her after he was exposed. The media knew. Knew but concealed it. This is what Shtrasler is so eager to protect.