Opinion |

Rabin's Death Wasn't a Political Murder - It Was a Religious One

Benjamin Netanyahu didn't lead the incitement against Yitzhak Rabin in 1995, extremist rabbis did.

B. Michael
B. Michael
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Yigal Amir, serving a life sentence for the murder of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995.
Yigal Amir, serving a life sentence for the murder of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995.Credit: Tomer Neuberg
B. Michael
B. Michael

A political murder? Nonpolitical? Did Benjamin Netanyahu incite? Or didn’t he? The stormy debate goes on, and returns every year.

In the coming years, we will surely hear from more activists like Likud’s David Bitan (“Bitanoids?”), who will argue passionately that the murder of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995 was a settling of scores, an act of passion or simply a justified “neutralization” because the victim was carrying a Swiss Army knife.

Meanwhile, the real background to the murder is receding. It is evaporating from the heated debate and no one deals with it any more.

Therefore, one must persistently remind everyone that Rabin’s assassination was a religious murder. It was a murder for the sake of heaven; a murder in response to the violation of God’s honor.

It’s permitted to point an accusing finger at the right-wing leaders, but this time they only carry tangential responsibility.

Their routine incitement might lead certain wretches to throw a grenade at demonstrators, shoot at laborers or unload their frustrations on Palestinians in the street.

But murderers of the holy type – murderer-saints like Baruch Goldstein, the Jewish Underground organization and Yigal Amir – do not need right-wing inciters. They have a much more effective inciter: the Lord of Hosts.

With all due respect to the incitement abilities of Netanyahu and his ilk, we must admit that Amir was not their foot soldier. He was a soldier of his rabbis, those rabbi-idols who, in the name of God and some primitive interpretation of his Torah, permit evil and oppression, fraud and theft, hatred, cruelty and murder.

Only from among them could such a murderer emerge – a murderer who fervently believes that by murdering, he is doing the will of his father in heaven.

The birth pangs of the religious murder are also in need of a refresher.

On June 11, 1967, the Greater Land of Israel was born and Judaism went mad. The territories. The tombs. The redemption. The Messiah. God’s promise to Abraham. The commandments of destruction, inheritance and revenge – all suddenly jumped out of the pages of the Bible and became realizable. The Hardal [a Hebrew acronym for ultra Orthodox-Zionist] monster was born, and the writing was on the wall.

Except no one wanted to read it.

November 1993. The “Association of Rabbis for the Jewish People and the Land of Israel” produces its first definition of a “rodef,” a pursuer. “Anyone who neglects to prevent implementation of ‘the agreement’ [Oslo] violates the precept of ‘Don’t stand idly by your brother’s blood.’” That’s the law of rodef explicitly. Every Hardali knows that.

July 1995. A rabbinical ruling is issued forbidding the evacuation of settlements, “to hand them over to foreigners.” This is the law of moser – handing over a Jew or his property to the government. It is far more serious and deadly than the law of rodef.

November 4, 1995. Someone was found who got the hints. Yigal Amir murders Yitzhak Rabin.

Yet still no is reading the writing on the wall.

June 2000. The Yesha Council of settlements makes an announcement: “Mr. Prime Minister, you are about to hand over settlers to the control of the Palestinian Police.” Again, the law of moser.

October 2000. At a conference of the rabbis’ association, Elyakim Levanon (who some see as a rabbi), declares, “The time has come to seize the scepter. To return to the period of King David to establish a leadership, the kings of the rabbis, who will constitute the true government of the Jewish People!” A clear and explicit call for a halakhic putsch.

June 2003. The rabbis’ association reissues a call about the law of rodef, this time in response to the Quartet’s Road Map for peace. Still no one reads the writing on the wall.

November 2016. This overt resistance continues to gnaw, grow stronger and accumulate power. It doesn’t even try to hide its intention to take control of the entire country; to make its priests the state’s leaders and turn it into a monster as well.

After all, that’s what it’s been doing for nearly 50 years, while we’ve been arguing with Bitan and Netanyahu.

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