Not Really an Option

Politically, Yitzhak Rabin was the dead person who may have shown signs of life this year; as far as his personal example is concerned, he is the most dead of all.

There's a well-known tale of a yeshiva student who for the purpose of a shidduch was asked to reveal his age, and he was uncertain what to do. So he went to his rabbi to ask for advice - should he take a year off his age or add a year, what should he do.

"Why not tell them your real age, not a year more or less?" answered the rabbi.

"I never thought of that," said the student.

That tale from back then and there has become the reality of our life here. The correct version isn't even considered in most cases; the truth, truth be told, is not even an option. Like a conditioned reflex, it's always the lying version that is pulled out, offered for sale, and it has lots of buyers - demand matches supply, and vice versa. A culture of lying has taken over the market.

There have been several such cases in recent weeks: a Zim cargo ship crashed into a Japanese fishing boat, sank it, killed seven fishermen, and the company announced without hesitation that its ship wasn't even in the area at the time of the crash, so why bother it. The Zim version didn't hold saltwater more than two days.

A similar incident involved Israir: because of pilot error, one of its passenger planes nearly crashed into an American cargo plane as both were readying for a landing at Kennedy Airport in New York. Miraculously and because of the skills of the local pilots, a disaster was averted. Senior officials at Israir tried testing a lie.

And in the political sphere - two MKs were caught red handed with their hands open when they flew at the expense of Agrexco to the U.S. They didn't deny they flew, but described it as a sacred mission on behalf of Israel's agricultural industries, 30 hours in the air sitting on piles of soft tomatoes and sleeping on hard squash. Agrexco was insulted, demanded apologies and made clear that the flight was under first-class conditions.

Just last week, an education minister in Israel claimed that "no minister signs regulations," and that she did not even know that a non-profit organization run by her mother enjoys a particularly generous budget from the Education Ministry. One can only hope that if Limor Livnat finds it difficult to identify her own handwriting, the state comptroller will help her.

And this week, another public servant breaks into the Knesset storeroom and announces he didn't take a thing, but just to make sure he returned the thing that was not taken.

In all these cases, the lie didn't manage to travel very far, because the evidence and testimony piled up like mountains on the desks of those looking into them. Who knows, however, how many lies besiege us from every direction but for the lack of witnesses ready to testify, and without evidence that immediately convicts. The culture of lying is an epidemic, the virus spreading and infecting through the air, sea and land.

Ten years after the murder of Yitzhak Rabin, once again we trod around the "Rabin Legacy" that he did or did not leave behind. The argument focuses in the political plane - for or against Oslo - and it has become a somewhat ridiculous debate and soon will be just strange. Rabin was not a philosopher, nor did he have an orderly political doctrine. Everyone can pluck whatever feathers they think suitable, and in any case his biography has become one of those "at your request" shows.

It's possible that his true legacy comes from other important areas, that the official eulogists would prefer to leave in the shade. Unlike his "heir," Ariel Sharon, Rabin was a man of truth who despised lies. Even those who disagreed with him and did not believe in him and his way believed him. Even when quarreling, his rivals admitted that the problem with Rabin is not his lies, but his truth. He was not a perfect man - who is perfect? - but he was a complete man, at peace with himself and with his inner truth, which he did not succeed at concealing and maybe did not want to.

As opposed to his heirs, he took upon himself full responsibility even when he was not responsible. He never dodged it or shared it, never blamed it on someone else, and even though he was a naturally quiet man, he never refused to answer on the grounds of self-incrimination. It was all on him, on his head, all his responsibility - for good and in particular bad. Rabin was the last person here who resigned - and from what a position! - when he was not prepared to blame his wife and advisors and aides. Nowadays, things are completely different: nowadays they send the investigators to the sons, because the father never heard, never saw, and hasn't got a clue.

On memorial days it's common to ask, "what would have happened if," such as what if he wasn't murdered, and nobody can know and nobody is authorized to answer. Nonetheless, one answer is certain: the truth would return to being an option, recommended for telling as it is, without adding a year or taking one off. Politically, Yitzhak Rabin was the dead person who may have shown signs of life this year; as far as his personal example is concerned, he is the most dead of all.