Sternhell at Ceremony Marking 13th Anniversary of Rabin Assassination: We Have Learned Nothing

The surge in violence among the extreme right and at the illegal West Bank outposts was the central theme at the memorial for slain prime minister Yitzhak Rabin and his wife Leah in Jerusalem yesterday.

Close to 100 friends, family, and past and present Labor Party members gathered at Mt. Herzl, where the nation's presidents and prime ministers are buried, for an unofficial ceremony marking the 13th 4 anniversary of the Rabin assassination.

The official state ceremony, which will be attended by the country's leaders, will be held on the Hebrew date of Rabin's killing, the 11th day of the Hebrew month of Cheshvan, which falls early next week.

"The next political murder is just around the corner," the first speaker, Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer, warned. "The seeds of the calamity were sown in certain towns and bizarre Messianic circles in Judea and Samaria, but there are also outgrowths within the Green Line."

Ben-Eliezer denounced the commercial television stations, Channels 2 and 10, for seeking to air a series of interviews with Rabin's murderer Yigal Amir last week. He called it part of the "reckless worship of the almighty ratings."

'Amir should rot in his cell'

"[Amir] should rot in his cell," Ben-Eliezer continued. "He should have been living in prison with minimal luxuries - no radio, no television, no telephone, no newspaper, no letters, no family visits - but in the enlightened, progressive state of Israel, this sickening man was permitted to marry, to have conjugal visits and to impregnate her, and nobody opens his mouth and dares speak up ... He receives the full rights of a democracy, and laughs and makes a circus of the state of Israel ... How far can stupidity go? How far can foolishness go?"

Professor Ze'ev Sternhell, who was wounded in September by a bomb planted outside his home, allegedly by extreme rightists, was invited to speak at the ceremony. He described Rabin as a man who tried to foment a revolution based on "the idea that the War of Independence is over once and for all, and that in this country live two nations, and both of them have rights to this land."

In order to kill the idea, "they murdered the man," he said.

Sternhell recalled a photograph that appeared just prior to the assassination, showing Rabin in an SS uniform, and added that to this day, some rightists liken Israel Defense Forces soldiers to Nazis.

"This motif is alive and well, and at times it seems nothing has been learned and nothing has changed," he said. Sternhell cited statements made this week by West Bank rabbinic council head Dov Lior, who said the Federman's Farm outpost evacuation reminded him of his experiences during the Holocaust. The professor called the comparison "a forgery, evil, despicable, a disgrace."

The former IDF chief of staff, Amnon Lipkin-Shahak, mentioned that Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin had warned of another politically motivated assassination. He appealed to Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who was also at the ceremony, to "stop issuing warnings, and start doing something. Yitzhak (Rabin) would not have allowed [them] to break the arms of reserve officers. Under his watch this wouldn't happen. Not to reserve soldiers, not to Border Policemen. We have learned to complain, but we have not learned to do."