Right-wing Group Raising Money for Rabin Assassin

The right-wing Honenu organization is trying to raise money for Yitzhak Rabin's assassin, Yigal Amir, and his wife, Larissa Trimbobler.

Hillel Roth, who is in charge of the organization's economic affairs, confirmed to Haaretz in a telephone conversation that Honenu had a "secondary" fund for transfering donations to Amir. Trimbobler added that "this is related to a legal battle and especially the retrial we are planning. Apparently, we have to collect money for large expenses."

The drive appears to be the first time that donations are being collected on behalf of Amir, although the fund is not mentioned by the organization on its Web site.

Many well-known rabbis encourage surfers to the Honenu site to make a donation. Their letters, however, appear to have been posted on the site before the Amir fund was set up. The rabbis include Shas spiritual mentor Ovadia Yosef (whose letter of endorsement was taken down from the site this week), former chief rabbis Mordechai Eliahu and Avraham Shapira, and rabbis Zvi Tau, Dov Lior, Shlomo Aviner and Moshe Levinger.

Honenu is headed by a resident of Kiryat Arba, Shmuel Meidad. It was established in 2002 and rose to prominence for its defense of people arrested in protests against the disengagement plan. The Amir fund was started recently, and is being kept under wraps. No mention of it is made on the Internet site. The organization has a telephone center for donations that can be made via standing bank orders, by check or by credit card.

To ensure that the money goes to the Amirs, the donor must write "for the fund promoting Yigal and Larissa Amir's rights" on the reverse side of the check. For a credit-card donation, the donor must speak to the fund's directors.

Trimbobler said in a telephone interview yesterday that this was the first time she had tried to raise donations because she did not have money to pay a lawyer to represent her and Amir in their legal battles. She admitted that she knew Meidad, but said: "I can't say we are in close touch."

On a Web site she opened a few weeks ago on behalf of Amir, Trimbobler says the donations are aimed at "stopping political persecution of Yigal Amir and the denial of his basic rights; stopping the perverse vengeance of the establishment; carrying out a legal battle for basic rights."

She confirmed that her site referred donors to Honenu, and said she could not speak on behalf of Meidad.

Asked about the objective of the fund, Trimbobler said that this was just the beginning, adding: "I don't know if anything will come out of it."

Roth told a Haaretz reporter, who pretended to be a potential donor, that Trimbobler "had asked us to do her a favor... and we said we don't mind because we are legally allowed to... You are certainly not the first donor."

Meidad denied the report and said he would have to check with Roth.

A spokesman for Shas said Yosef's letter referred to the time of the disengagement and "must not be seen as an endorsement for Amir, the wicked murderer."

No response was available from Shapira or Eliahu by press time.