A Suggestion for Commemorating Rabin's Assassination

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Crowds gather at a rally to mark the 18th anniversary of Yitzhak Rabin's assassination, Oct. 12, 2013.Credit: Daniel Bar On

We learned from a short news item this week that the main event marking the 20th anniversary of Yitzhak Rabin’s assassination will be sponsored by the Council of Youth Movements in Israel. Finally, I said to myself, the huppah of memory will be spread over us from one end to the other — from the left-wing Hashomer Hatzair and Hanoar Haoved Vehalomed to the right-wing Bnei Akiva and Beitar, and the victim can rest in Oslo-peace and its crimes.

No longer will only one, waning camp grieve, but the entire nation, including the other, waxing camp. By the 30th anniversary of the murder, in a decade, Benjamin Netanyahu, the head of Beitar, will invoke the name of Rabin, whom he once taunted. Perhaps it will be much sooner, even next year.

The full program has not been published yet, but it’s not difficult to guess: Each movement will send a representative, who will in their speeches set “democracy” above their greatest joy. I have a suggestion that would add a special touch to the proceedings: that Bnei Akiva choose Knesset Member Bezalel Smotrich (Habayit Hayehudi) as its most exceptional alumnus. After all, what’s the difference between the “beasts,” as he calls them, who participate in Jerusalem’s annual gay pride parade, and the young people who will gather in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square next month? It is far better to remember Rabin as he was in the eyes of his admirers — “The settlers are a cancer” — and not as his detractors want to portray him.

And if not Smotrich, then perhaps it’s worth considering a different star graduate, a former counselor in Bnei Akiva.

If his name isn’t familiar, allow me to jog your memory; it’s Ohad Bart, who I had also forgotten and would never have remembered if I hadn’t been reminded by a new book, "Yitzhak", by Dvir Kariv (Hebrew only). A former agent in the Jewish terrorism division of the Shin Bet security service, Kariv was the first to question Yigal Amir, who is serving a life sentence for Rabin’s murder.

“In August 1995, extremism was rising,” Kariv wrote. “A man of around 22, while overtaking the car of cabinet minister Yossi Sarid, tried to run him off the road with his wild driving, and could have hurt him. The man’s father denounced his son “for not forcing Sarid over the side. Many people would have been happy to be rid of the minister of garbage.”

“Incidentally,” adds Kariv in his written account, “We’re talking about a completely regular family; the son is a counselor in Bnei Akiva, and the father, a reserve-duty military judge with the rank of lieutenant colonel.” I wonder if the military later promoted him, as would seem appropriate, even though he seems more suited to be a sniper than a judge. These are your judges, Israel, in the days when the judges judge the Ishmaelites.

Bart was arrested, and he confessed to his deeds and some of his intentions. His driver’s license was suspended and he was placed on probation. All of this was even before children/little terrorists began throwing stones and making drivers lose control. This guy was one of us, from the cream of religious Zionism in all its glory; he wasn’t even a “hilltop youth.”

Hoping for a light sentence, Bnei Akiva’s general secretary came to me with Bart and asked for “a sulha.” I foolishly agreed, for reasons that I frankly cannot now recall. I have since learned that sometimes being too forgiving makes a mockery of the law.

Bnei Akiva refused to expel Bart, and in 2006, as a representative of the Yesha Council of settlement’s forum of educational institutions, he helped organize the so-called Beasts’ Parade to protest that year’s gay pride parade in Jerusalem. He was also a Knesset candidate for the National Religious Party-National Union in the 2006 national election.

Who could be more suited to take the stage than someone who was the black raven heralding the lion of winter and the autumn of our lives? If my suggestion is adopted, call me right after the rally and tell me how it went.

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