Opinion

The Right Doesn’t Need Another Political Murder

Rabin was murdered because the right wing had a real and immediate need for his death, but today the right doesn’t need to use murder to achieve its vision.

Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin speaks to a crowd of more than 100,000 Israelis at Tel Aviv's municipal square shortly before being killed, on November 4, 1995
NATI HARNIK,AP

It seems that there’s at least one thing that left-wing opponents of the occupation don’t have to worry about. The right wing doesn’t need to commit another political assassination right now. The events on the anniversary of the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin always raise anxiety over the next assassination. But really, this time it’s not necessary. It’s a waste of energy that would just attract annoying international attention to the strengthening of the settlement project.

Rabin was murdered because the right wing had a real, immediate and practical need for his death. This was the most efficient way to immediately stop the Oslo process and ensure a change of government, in which a leader would be elected who opposed Oslo and supported deepening the occupation. These two goals were indeed achieved. Although his policies were controversial, a living Rabin could have won another election and brought about the irreversible establishment of a Palestinian state.

The right wing sees extending Israeli sovereignty to the West Bank as a principle more important than democracy. Human rights and universal morality are not important to it. And so it has no problem crushing Palestinian human rights and denying them the right to vote, and making laws that silence political criticism. To the right wing, democracy is just a means of achieving the ultimate goal, which is annexation of the territories. And so when democracy does not serve that purpose, and even threatens it, the right wing has nothing to prevent it from acting in an undemocratic way, like for example, murdering a sitting prime minister.

Rabin and the Oslo process were a clear case in which the right wing needed to sanctify the ultimate goal at the expense of democracy. And so the right wing, as a political bloc, incited against Rabin, and created a public atmosphere that led to his assassination. Today it doesn’t need to use murder as a tool to achieve its vision.

“The segments of the population whose dignity and values were crushed by the agreement are not prepared to come to terms with the whitewashing and the deception,” wrote Israel Harel wrote during the Oslo period (Haaretz, September 15, 1993). “They will not rest and will not be silent until this deceitful government falls and all the agreements it signed are cancelled...‘and even if some of us fall to our demise’... those who have sworn allegiance to...the Land of Israel... will not move from the path in which they believe,” wrote Harel, quoting poet Nathan Alterman. Indeed, one fell to his demise.

In another article during that period, Harel preached democracy: “I also believe that only by means of the democratic path can the goal to which the national front now aspires be achieved. Any other way will not receive the cooperation of the people, and will only increase the power of the left to continue along the road of concessions.” It’s essential to note: Democracy is for Harel only a means! The goal is sovereignty over the territories.

He was wrong. Rabin’s assassin, Yigal Amir, was right. He got rid of Rabin through an undemocratic path and it turned out that the people did cooperate with the murder, and instead of the power of the left increasing, the people got rid of the left as well. Harel envisioned that if people would be found who would “resolve to fight with total devotion against giving away parts of the homeland to the sovereignty of another people, the Land of Israel will be saved and the national camp will return to power.” Yigal Amir was totally devoted. The national camp returned to power.

“And even if the strenuous road is treacherous/And even if some of us may fall to our demise/ Forever will we love you our homeland/ We are yours in battle and in labor.” What a nauseating nationalist poem by Nathan Alterman. In battle and in labor. There’s no democracy there. There’s no longer any need. Just as there’s no longer any need to assassinate leftists.