Opinion

Netanyahu Should Kneel Before Yitzhak Rabin's Daughter

The Israeli right has resorted to all kinds of tricks and lies and conspiracy theories to rid themselves of the burden of guilt for not stopping the terrible incitement that led to Rabin's assassination

Then-opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu on the balcony of a hotel overlooking Zion Square during a right-wing demonstration in 1995.
David Mizrahi

I can really understand them. It’s hard for them to sleep at night. It has been hard for everyone, but especially for them, who (unjustly) see themselves as people of very strong values – the religious Zionist camp, the knitted-kippah wearers.

It’s been 23 years now, since the murder, during which they and the right have been waging one long campaign with this goal: rewriting the history of the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin. They’ve resorted to all kinds of tricks and lies and conspiracy theories to rid themselves of the burden of guilt for not stopping the terrible incitement that led to the assassination of the prime minister, the assassination of democracy and the assassination of peace.

The rewriting of history begins with total denial: “There was no incitement to murder Rabin,” Tzachi Hanegbi said this week. “There was a legitimate political battle.” And Miri Regev chimed in, too: “There was no incitement from the right before the murder.”

Well, let me remind them: Rabbis in the territories ruled that Rabin was subject to “din moser” and “din rodef” (about which former Yesha Council secretary general Aharon Domb had the nerve to say: “That was just a philosophical statement”). Other rabbis held “pulsa dinura” rituals wishing Rabin all kinds of bizarre deaths. At dozens of demonstrations, crowds shouted: “Rabin is a traitor,” “Rabin is a murderer,” “With blood and fire, we will get rid of Rabin.” And at the weekly demonstration held outside Rabin’s house, protesters shouted: Your fate will be the same as Ceausescu’s. And there was also the parade in Ra’anana with a coffin, led by Netanyahu; and the demonstration in Zion Square in Jerusalem, where signs were held aloft depicting Rabin wearing a keffiyeh, showing Rabin with a target on his forehead, and picturing Rabin in an SS uniform – that sign was set on fire.

If all that is not incitement, then why did people of conscience like David Levy, Miki Eitan, Dan Meridor and Benny Begin leave the stage at the Zion Square rally in disgust – while Benjamin Netanyahu, Ariel Sharon, Moshe Katsav, Rehavam Ze’evi, Rafael Eitan and Tzachi Hanegbi continued to rile up the inciters? To Likud MK Miki Zohar, Netanyahu and Rabin are the same: “What they’re doing now to Netanyahu is political assassination just as serious as what happened in 1995.” He ought explain that to Dalia Rabin. And Yuli Edelstein has lost it too. He said: “The Rabin assassination had no historic influence.” To speak that way about the assassination that diverted Israel from its track, that shifted power to Netanyahu and wiped out the peace process? Maybe it was just a philosophical assassination.

But that’s not all. Right-wing figures have another way to fight reality, via manipulation: “I do not accept the thesis that half the nation murdered Rabin,” Hanegbi said calmly. The only problem is that there is no such thesis. No one is blaming “half the nation.” They’re blaming you, Hanegbi, and the other right-wing leaders who encouraged the incitement and didn’t stop it. First of all Netanyahu – and then the ministers, and then the settler leaders – Israel Harel, Uri Ariel and Aharon Domb – who saw the incitement and kept fueling the fire. They cannot claim “Our eyes did not see.”

Netanyahu could have left the stage in Zion Square, dispersed the demonstration, come out forcefully against the inciters to murder. He didn’t do any of those things, because he wanted power at any price.

Naftali Bennett joined the party this week too, saying: “The right didn’t murder Rabin; Yigal Amir did. I’ve had enough of the false accusations every year from the left.” You’ve had enough? It’s too much for you? Just remember that the killer himself said that without support from his surroundings (in Hebron) and without the halakhic rulings from the rabbis, he would not have killed.

In 1977, a Jordanian soldier killed seven Israeli girls in Naharayim. King Hussein took responsibility. He cut short a trip to Spain, quickly traveled to Israel and went to visit each of the families in their homes as they sat shivah. He got down on his knees and asked their forgiveness.

This is exactly what Netanyahu needs to do today, before Dalia Rabin. Then he should do the same before the entire nation. Perhaps then he and the rest of the right-wing and settler leaders could find solace and sleep better at night.