Opinion

After 23 Years, Nothing Has Changed

The right is moving from defense to offense on the road to rewriting history. It wasn’t the right that murdered Rabin, but the assassin came from its ranks, as did a religious edict sanctioning extrajudicial killing

FILE Photo: The memorial ceremony for Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, who was murdered in 1995.
Mark Israel Salem

The strategy of the right in contending with the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin can be summed up in the response of Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked to the excellent, pointed speech by MK Shelly Yacimovich (Zionist Union): “Yacimovich’s incitement against the right wing stirs up dispute and animosity, exploiting Rabin’s commemoration in the worst way.”

Here you have it all: A straw man in the form of “you accuse the entire right wing” and the cynical accusation of incitement and exploiting the murder for political gains. A classic example of a scripted message.

No one accuses the entire right wing of the murder. This claim by the right is a deception, moving from defense to offense on the road to rewriting history. It wasn’t the right that murdered Rabin, but the assassin came from its ranks, as did a religious edict sanctioning extrajudicial killing. The right wing was on the balcony listening to the cries in the street; it saw the empty coffin and the noose, and beheld it was good.

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Twenty-three years have passed and nothing has changed. In 1995 Netanyahu cried out that “Rabin is the national inciter.” Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev explains that she “doesn’t think there was incitement from the right,” perhaps because incitement has become second nature to her, like breathing. She then goes on to label human rights group B’Tselem “Trojan horses.” Eskimos have fewer words for snow than the right has for treason.

The national-religious Arutz Sheva (Channel 7), which wondered this week whether “Rabin was a traitor,” panicked when the IDF held an exhibition about the incitement that preceded the murder: “One cannot avoid the impression that the curators of this exhibition are trying to portray the right wing as a camp that led to serious incitement, supposedly, against Yitzhak Rabin, of blessed memory.”

Supposedly. At least they left in the traditional “of blessed memory.” A person with a clean conscience does not whitewash the past. And Netanyahu’s conscience is as clean as Lady Macbeth’s, walking in her sleep and rubbing her hands: “Yet who would have thought the old man to have had so much blood in him.”

The anger is not about the past, it’s about the present. One could argue that Netanyahu did not realize what demons he had released. He cannot be absolved now, after building the basis of his rule on these demons. From his perspective, Rabin’s murder was perfect in its timing and profitable. The methods that brought him to power then sustain him in power now.

Particularly ridiculous are the warnings about blood that will yet be shed. Blood is being shed all the time, it’s only less conspicuous. Orna Peretz was attacked in Kiryat Shmona on the week in which she bored the prime minister, and he held his silence. Taayush activists were beaten by settlers and Knesset members on the right applauded. Right-wing activists throw bottles of urine on bereaved parents and an insulting tweet by Naftali Bennett relating to the incident is followed by claims that it was written by some “student.”

This is what Rabin’s granddaughter tried to tell Netanyahu at the memorial ceremony for Rabin; so did his grandson Yonatan Ben-Artzi, MK Shelly Yacimovich and opposition chief MK Tzipi Livni. Netanyahu, as is his wont, preferred to put on a hurt face.

What’s the point of being angry at Netanyahu when the “moderate majority” cooperates with the right wing’s strategy of marking enemies? This is the meaning of the cowardly decision to refrain from including Meretz peace activists at the ceremony, people who stood with Rabin, inviting instead those who stood on that balcony in Zion Square?

This is a decision that blurs the fact that Rabin was not murdered in romantic squabble but for his signing of the Oslo Accords, and it absolves those who enabled such an act.

It behooves the non-profit civil society organization Darkenu and Labor Party chairman Avi Gabbay to remember the words of journalist Arye Caspi, written two weeks before the assassination: “There were people among us who tried unsuccessfully to remain liberals while evading the leftist tag. They discovered, as did Jews when confronted with anti-Semitism, that you are not free to define yourself as you wish. Anti-Semites did not let even Jews who had erased their ties with Judaism forget where they had come from.”