Israeli Schools Deliberately Distorting Story of Rabin's Murder, Court Petition Says

'The Education Ministry has become the ministry for rewriting history,' a legislator says, as the petition goes to the High Court

File photo: A photo of mourning Israelis standing at the site of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin's assassination on just days after on November 7, 1995.
AFP

Knesset members and cultural figures filed a High Court petition Tuesday against alleged intentional distortions in the way the 1995 assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin is being taught in state secular schools.

The petitioners demand an urgent hearing on the matter, given the upcoming commemoration day of the assassination on November 1.

The petition was submitted by the nongovernmental organization the Secular Forum and individuals including MK Omer Bar-Lev (Zionist Union), Meretz MKs, former Labor MK Ophir Pines-Paz, playwrights Joshua Sobol and Ephraim Sidon, and journalist Igal Sarna.

“We will not let extremism rewrite history,” Bar-Lev said. “Our children deserve to study and know the complexity of the historical facts, all the more so in the case of the murder of the prime minister of democratic Israel, Yitzhak Rabin.”

According to the petitioners, the curriculum teaching about the assassination presents a false picture of reality at the time of Rabin’s assassination, intentionally concealing what they call messianic religiosity that led to the murder, and concealing the role played by inciters against Rabin.

The petitioners also state that the curriculum teaching the subject, called “Jewish Israeli Culture,” does not mention the mass protests or prayers they say incited against the prime minister, or the issuing of a religious ruling known as a din rodef, which ostensibly permits extrajudicial killings under certain circumstances to prevent the death of another.

According to the petitioners, the program does not mention the name of the assassin, Yigal Amir, or his worldview.

The petitioners say students in the state secular system learn that all religious leaders, spokesmen and believers have always been opposed to any kind of violence, which the petitioners say falsifies the facts. The petition says the Education Ministry and its minister, Naftali Bennett, are exceeding their authority and invoking extraneous considerations.

“Anyone who learns about this terrible murder from this curriculum alone will not know who the murderer is, and will not know about the incitement that led to it,” said MK Mossi Raz (Meretz). “The Education Ministry has become the ministry for rewriting history.”

MK Tamar Zandberg (Meretz) called Rabin’s assassination “the most painful national trauma in Israel’s history,” one with a context that included incitement.

“Rabbinic rulings and din rodef have been completely erased from the study of the assassination in the secular school system,” Zandberg said. “We cannot accept this distortion of history, the purpose of which seems to be to save the skin of rabbis of Bennett’s bailiwick.”