Opinion

Revealed: The People Behind the Notorious Rabin-SS Posters

The past 23 years have seen numerous theories about the identities of those who depicted the prime minister in Nazi garb. The existence of a secret trial and verdict are published here for the first time

Who created and printed Yitzhak Rabin’s picture wearing an SS uniform that was brandished at the despicable rally in Zion Square in Jerusalem before his murder? Two days after the 23rd anniversary (according to the Hebrew calendar) of Rabin’s murder, the time has come to tell the truth.

For 23 years the settlers, Likud, Habayit Hayehudi and religious Zionists have been trying to evade any link to the repulsive murder. As far as they are concerned, the murderer is a rogue element who was not influenced by anything and does not represent anything. He lives in a vacuum. And this is of course a crude lie. The vile murderer came from the heart of religious Zionism, a student at Bar-Ilan University who spent many a Shabbat in Hebron and was very much influenced by the horrible incitement at demonstrations, in yeshivot and in synagogues. After the murder he said that without the halakhic rulings of rabbis from the territories, who deemed that the laws of “din rodef” (regarding one who is pursuing another to harm or kill him) and “din moser” (regarding a Jew who is about to turn over a Jew to the non-Jewish authorities), applied to Rabin, he wouldn’t have killed him.

The inciting poster: Yitzhak Rabin in SS uniform, 1995
Flash 90

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The settlers are also spreading lies about the Shin Bet security service’s involvement in the demonstration in Zion Square. They tell a gullible public how it was Avishai Raviv (a Kach activist who was recruited by the Shin Bet as an informant) who got the photomontages of Rabin in an SS uniform from the Shin Bet and passed them out to the crowd of protesters in Zion Square, and in doing so incited an innocent, holy community, most of whom wore knitted kippot, who had only wanted to hold a quiet, civilized demonstration.

Israel Harel a prominent settler and a Haaretz columnist, has been repeating this for years. He says at every opportunity that he knows the Shin Bet created the SS poster and gave it to Raviv, and anyone who writes otherwise is telling a horrible “blood libel.”

So let us examine who really is telling a “blood libel.” On November 28, 1995, an indictment was filed in Juvenile Court in Jerusalem against two 16-year-old boys. The session was held behind closed doors because they were minors. This was also the reason that the indictment and verdict were kept secret for 23 years.

After I discovered the trial was held, I spent the past two years trying to get the information so that it could be published. I succeeded only recently, when the court and the prosecution agreed to publish part of the verdict, as long as the minors' identity was kept under wraps.

The existence of the trial and the verdict are being published here for the first time.

The ruling states that the person who prepared the “Rabin in an SS uniform” poster was one of the two youths, who acted on his own initiative. The boy put together a picture of Rabin’s face on top of the head  of SS leader Heinrich Himmler, and in early October 1995 he made a number of copies of the poster in his father's office. On October 5, 1995, he participated in the demonstration in Zion Square and handed out copies of the poster among the crowd, which was shouting hysterically, “In blood and fire, we will cast out Rabin,” “Rabin is a traitor” and “Rabin is a murderer.”

At the protest, the other defendant, also 16 at the time, waved his poster in front of television cameras, and someone else set it on fire. All this was broadcast live, shocking many. Police also discovered a large amount of propaganda materials against Rabin, including dozens of stickers on which the youth had written “death to Rabin,” in the first defendant’s home.

Five days after the murder, the second defendant, along with another minor, bought spray paint and painted slogans around Jerusalem: “Rabin is a victim of peace, Peres is next in line,” and “Peres is the successor of Hitler the Nazi.” Alongside the graffiti they drew the symbol of Kach, the extreme right-wing party led by the late Rabbi Meir Kahane. 

It seems the success of the Rabin posters caused them to try out a similar method for Peres. The three youths, all residents of Jerusalem, expressed remorse in court and received lenient sentences.

This is the historical truth and there is no other. No Shin Bet and no Avishai Raviv. That is why many people need to apologize. They also have the opportunity to do so: In 10 days, at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv at the annual memorial ceremony for Rabin.