20 Years Later, Rabin's Peace Policies Have Been Erased

Israeli deniers of the truth must be reminded of one thing: The premier was murdered because he supported peace.

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Members of Knesset observe a moment of silence in memory of Yitzhak Rabin, last week. The man of peace and his death have become an embarrassment.
Members of Knesset observe a moment of silence in memory of Yitzhak Rabin, last week. The man of peace and his death have become an embarrassment.Credit: Olivier Fitoussi

After 20 years, the erasure has been completed.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu grumbled at a recent meeting of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee: “There is talk these days of what would have happened if this person or another had remained – it is not relevant.”

"This person or another." He has no name and no title, and certainly no glory.

Sometimes this erasure crosses political borders. The memorial event initiated by the Labor Party in Jerusalem was called “In his death he commanded us.” No longer: “In his death he commanded us to seek peace.” The peace has fallen by the wayside. Another event under the auspices of Labor was simply called “He commanded us.” Not in his death.

Yitzhak Rabin, the man of peace, and his death have become an embarrassment.

Nonetheless, in this country, which is sinking into a nationalistic and racist abyss, there is a need to preserve this Rabin somehow, within official limits. It's a problem. The solution that's been found is not sterilization of the political figure – that was already done in the past, during the years in which some semblance of a genial consensus was still needed. The left and the peace camp were no longer really in power, but they were still seen as part of the central movement. During that period, they suddenly focused on Rabin’s personality as a private individual. Rabin the grandfather, the father, the tennis player.

Today that is not enough. A step up is needed in order for the fundamentalist education minister to be able to speak at a ceremony commemorating the death of Rabin. For the prime minister who is fighting the mufti and for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to speak at his grave. For the settler Speaker of the Knesset to be able to bow his head in memory. Even in order for the persecuted and scared Labor Party to stand behind him proudly.

It is no longer enough to blur history. A real rewriting of it is needed. Rabin’s peace policies have simply been erased. He has become a determined fighter against terror. Someone who heartily devoured Arabs in 1948 and 1967, and also during the first intifada. A fervent security-minded stalwart, who at the very most deviated from the straight and narrow in his old age – although even then, he always remained skeptical, pessimistic, suspicious.

This twist in the story allows the “statesmanlike” right to live comfortably with the late prime minister.

The Rabin Center published a collection of articles to mark the 20th anniversary of the murder. A large number of the authors are part of the settler right and religious Zionism. It is clear that things have become easier for them in recent years. The former head of the Yesha Council of settlements, Dani Dayan, characterizes Rabin as “a Zionist in every part of his body,” who can be found on the same side of the map with Hanan Porat, and would have been disgusted by today’s left.

Caroline Glick, a journalist who is close to Netanyahu, laments the murder because its victim became associated with the heritage of the Oslo Accords and gave them renewed life – at the expense of Rabin's true image as a military hero. She calls for making a distinction between that mistake and the hero, and at the same time for canceling the agreements.

Others on the right have already completely renounced this burden, and any pretension of propriety. Over half of the respondents in a recent survey of religious youth said they think Yigal Amir did not kill Rabin.

The spokeswoman for Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (!), Tal Benesh Gealel, tweeted this week: “Only 364 more days until the next Rabin festival. I can’t wait.” Daniella Weiss made it clear: “A lot of good things have happened since then, we were strengthened, the settlements have been strengthened.” Irit Linor announced on the radio that the murder was not preceded by any particular incitement.

All that remains is just to remind all those deniers of the truth – even if just for the historical record – that Yitzhak Rabin was murdered because he turned to the path of peace in his final years, believed with all his heart in peace, and planned to make every effort to bring about peace.

If that is stuck like a bone in your throat, then choke to death.

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