There's a Hole in the Shirt

Ten years after Rabin's murder, the death cult goes on, although for reasons of political correctness it is called 'nurturing Rabin's heritage.'

A hole that should not have been there was discovered in the shirt Yitzhak Rabin was wearing when he was assassinated - that was the "scoop" of a documentary aired on the 10th anniversary of the assassination. As it turns out, the existence of the hole was a well-known, although unaccounted-for, fact.

As could have been expected, it rekindled the conspiracy theory about the late prime minister's death, which in turn provoked demands for reopening Yigal Amir's trial. Jurists explained that the hole did not provide a valid reason for a retrial. If anything, Amir, who admitted that he shot Rabin, could demand a reduction in his sentence if there was any conspiracy. Not all his demands merit an outright objection: If other murderers sentenced to life are allowed to propagate, why shouldn't he? As to a new sentence for Amir, why not reduce it to a few words.

Apart from that, it looks like we are heading into a time when the assassination of a prime minister is no longer taboo, and it is starting to look more and more like those who think it is still a crime are likely to be booed. Therefore, it sounds like an idea to toss around, to create an official post of "prime minister's assassin." And who fits the bill better than most, if not Yigal Amir? He has experience in the field, we know how to contact him, the security services know his modus operandi. Here is a way to fight our deepest fears: Let's turn them into an almost boring routine.

Ten years after Rabin's murder, the death cult goes on, although for reasons of political correctness it is called "nurturing Rabin's heritage." The sad truth is that we cannot tell if there is such a thing. There are no writings of his from which to distill the essence of a "heritage." In 1993, rather unwillingly, he decided that "there is a partner to talk with" on the Palestinian side after all, a view not shared by his successors. We will never know how he would have pursued the course during the second intifada. His heritage is the fact that on November 4, 1995, he was shot by Amir, who claimed he did what had to be done on political and religious grounds.

The National Theatre in London has in its repertoire a new play by Howard Brenton, "Paul," following the life of Saul of Tarsus, who started as a ferocious fighter against fanatic terrorists who threatened Jewish life in Judea. Following a meeting with Jesus, just risen from the dead, he experienced a change of heart and became an apostle, one of the founders of Christianity. The Romans crucified him for spreading the word.

In Brenton's version of the events, Jesus did not rise from the dead for the simple reason that he did not die on the cross. He was kept alive and in hiding by his brother, James, and Peter (who would, in time, be the founding rock of the Christian Church). Peter sensed something that Paul found hard to comprehend, even on the eve of his death: Jesus served the political and religious aims of their movement much better dead than alive.

The last scene of Brenton's play takes place in a jail cell in Rome. Emperor Nero comes to meet Paul and Peter on the eve of their execution, and spells out the bitter truth of religion and politics: "Rituals. Repeated patterns of behavior. To shore up belief. To stop chaotic behavior. In the end, it is the ritual that matters in religion, not what it means, mmm? ... You have long been seen as a political danger to the Imperial State ... because you're leaders of a death cult. Death cults always give the state problems."

Following that, Nero informs them of Rome's plan to destroy Judea and the Temple in Jerusalem: "When Judea is destroyed, your cult will have its chance. It can cut itself off from its Jewish roots ... and when you have priests ... a good hierarchy of bribable gentlemen in fine robes, like any other religion ... why, then you will do business with the state? A hundred, two hundred years from now, Christianity could be the Empire's religion."

When Paul asks, just like Amir in our times, "Then why not release us now?" Nero answers: "No, no, no. Have you understood nothing? History needs your story. First the martyrdoms, the diaspora, the despair, then the full flowering of myth and poetry ... History is all lies."

Paul goes to his death repeating his mantra, "Christ is risen." We go on living, some of us believing Rabin's assassination was a conspiracy and the hole in his shirt was part of a whole plot, and others believing his murder, for reasons of politics and religion, is the basis for a "heritage." Could it be all this is a part of a death cult, favored by history, dreaded by regimes and states, which also know how to utilize them for their benefit?