About a week ago the prime minister accused the broadcasting corporation Keshet of perpetrating “an attack on democracy” and called on people to boycott it. An interesting choice of words from the man whose entire political career has been nothing but an ongoing attack on democracy. Benjamin Netanyahu’s government is based on an assault on democratic values: emptying them of content and inciting against people who insist on holding them, accompanied by wailing and playing the victim.
They’re all illegitimate in his eyes: the president, the court, the prosecution, the media, the academic world, society, the leftists (the definition includes the whole political spectrum – from the Joint List to Avigdor Lieberman), the Arab citizens and more. For decades now he has had strategic partners in the attack on democracy.
“Yamim Noraim” (“Terrible Days”), the unsettling film by Yaron Zilberman and co-written by Ron Leshem about the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin, shows how Netanyahu associated himself with the rabbinic establishment and how together, they fostered and raised furrows of wild weeds in which the assassin, Yigal Amir, grew.
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The film follows the events that led to Rabin’s murder from the perspective of the assassin. It mentions the rabbis who permitted bloodshed and the politicians who applauded and were photographed with coffins, the ones who stood at the head of demonstrations that featured hangman’s nooses – those for whom the site of the attack became a nightclub for dancing on blood.
Courageously, the film brings back the responsibility of Netanyahu and the rabbinic establishment for the murder into focus, which over the years has been blurred by intentional collective whitewashing.
The problem is that Netanyahu and his strategic partners think that anyone who does not share their worldview is not legitimate. And so they allow themselves to say that the media that reports the news is enlisted media, that civil society is dangerous, that action must be taken against the Arab citizens, that academia is a sickness.
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Just as he stood on the balcony in Jerusalem’s Zion Square while demonstrators below called Rabin a traitor and killer 24 years ago, Netanyahu does nothing to prevent the next murder. On the contrary, he continues to call together his choir of incitement. Amir is in prison, but the rabbis who incited to murder walk free and continue to incite and publish their contemptible opinions.
The law enforcement authorities made not the slightest effort at the time to find them and bring them to justice, and today they allow themselves to go on spreading their nauseating racial doctrine in publicly funded institutions.
The fanatical rabbis have learned from experience that they are immune from punishment, even when they grant religious legitimacy to stealing and violence (in whitewashed words: to “the settlement project”), to massacres, to the murder of a prime minister, to the rape of non-Jewish women (in wartime) and even to the killing of (non-Jewish) babies. That is how Education Minister Rafi Peretz and Transportation Minister Bezalel Smotrich recently gave an award for “Torah creativity” to Rabbi Yitzhak Ginzburg of all people, a despicable racist who indoctrinates toward genocide and praises the murderer Baruch Goldstein.
In 1995 it could still be claimed that Netanyahu did not understand what demons he was unleashing. But that naïve thought should have been buried six months later, when in the election campaign he and the rabbis launched the racist slogan “Netanyahu is good for the Jews.”
Netanyahu and the rabbis know very well what they’re doing: Rabin’s murder brought them to power, their incitement and hatred machine allow them to continue to hold on to it.