The Necessary Legacy

Yigal Amir's vision for Israel — no Arabs, no peace, a state from the Mediterranean to the Jordan River — is now policy. Yitzhak Rabin's true legacy, meanwhile, is the weekly protests outside the attorney general's home

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(From left to right) Yasser Arafat, Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Rabin pose after receiving the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo's City Hall.
(From left to right) Yasser Arafat, Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Rabin pose after receiving the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo's City Hall.Credit: /AP

Yigal Amir has a legacy, and Yitzhak Rabin doesn’t. Rabin’s legacy – if it can be called that – can be summarized in eight words: “In his last years he wanted to reach a peace agreement with the Palestinians.” Amir’s legacy won’t fit into a newspaper column. Now that’s a legacy! That’s a vision! And it’s not just gathering dust on some shelf, either. It’s alive and breathing, and the government is trying hard not to skip a single comma of it. You wanted no Arabs? You got it. You wanted no agreements? You got it. From the sea to the Jordan River? Why not? Amir’s legacy is our current national legacy.

I imagine Amir has no complaints today. He isn’t bitter. It was worth it, he tells Larissa, his wife. Hard, but worth it. True, not everything is going smoothly and there’s room for improvement. If they’d have asked him, he wouldn’t have built the 300 housing units in Migron A, but in Susiel B. And the road surrounding Migron he’d have built in Didron, but who’s complaining? On the whole he’s pleased. Yes, he says to himself, they’re doing OK. They’re doing A–OK.

These days he’s exempt from the nightmare called “The Rabin Memorial Rally” and they’re not. His friends in the government don’t know what to do with it. On the one hand they must, on the other hand, they’re thoroughly sick of it. To stand in the sun and say how great the deceased was? The hollow-word crate is empty. What haven’t we said already? “The symbol of Jewish statesmanship?” We’ve said it. “A dialogue is needed?” we’ve used it. “This isn’t our way?” At least eight times. And “the heinous criminal?” we’ve repeated already (some prefer “abominable”).

“The scar left by Rabin’s murder will remain for generations,” the man who walked in front of Rabin’s symbolic coffin said last year. The more ceremonies he takes part in the better he gets. The voice is lower, the eyebrows closer. But there’s more than condolences in his eulogy, there’s also a warning. You all know who I am and what I’ve done, and lo, I am still here.

We are wary of such messages. After all, we know him and all the others. We know who sent people out, who incited and who kept quiet. After all, the accomplices to the murder are walking around among us. They appear on television and bombard Facebook with their posts. They dwell on the hills, they teach in the yeshivas, they are senior partners in the government.

When such types are wandering around in your neighborhood, you are wary. When you remind them of the murder they are offended, they are angry, they don’t understand what that has to do with them. True, they say, maybe we incited, maybe we sent people out, maybe we kept silent, but in no way did we murder. And for just to be on the safe side they add: This kind of accusation divides the nation.

The “ist” separating “religious national Zionism” from “religious nationalist Zionism” is their alibi. Because of this alibi we all gather once a year, persecutors and persecuted, in the comforting lap of hypocrisy and sanctimoniousness. Everyone, from right and left, is sorry. Sorry and mourning, mourning and hurting, pained by the fact that some madman, the devil knows why, suddenly rose up and murdered an elderly, very statesmanlike Jew.

Everyone is complicit in the plot to blur the triumph of Amir’s legacy. Every yod-bet in Heshvan, or some other weird date intended to obfuscate and make us forget, parents dress their children in white shirts and send them to an official state lesson in hypocrisy and pretense.

In the schoolyard their brains will be stuffed with the murdered man’s “life’s work” and his imaginary “legacy.” They won’t hear a word about the murderer’s legacy, which they will study for 12 years in school and with which they will enlist in the army and vote in the elections.

They will forget Rabin, as they’ll forget Amir’s copyrights. Children who weren’t born yet when Rabin was murdered won’t know that the legacy of Netanyahu, Bennett, Regev and Lieberman is actually Amir’s legacy. How would they know? Twenty-two years are time enough to change, wipe out, distort and create a fake reality.

The real rallies in Rabin’s memory are held in Petah Tikva every Saturday night. The state rallies should be boycotted. They aren’t convenient to anyone. It’s inconvenient to recognize that most of the public and its elected officials identify with the murderer’s legacy. They may not admit it, but in their opinion, Amir went one step too far, but only one.