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Monday, December 7, 2015

The Assassination of Yitzhak Rabin and of Mideast Peace

I remember when Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated. He was one of my heroes. He was assassinated by one of his own people. It was an amazing thing to observe and it occured even as he was trying to negotiate a peace treaty the the Palestinians. Turns out we have more to fear from our own than outside terrorists. Or rather we have more to fear from fear itself.

The New Yorker has this article on the subject:

Books OCTOBER 26, 2015 ISSUE, Shot in the Heart When Yitzhak Rabin was killed, did the prospects for peace perish, too? BY DEXTER FILKINS [http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/10/26/shot-in-the-heart]

The Author notes that that assassination was one of the most effective coups in modern history:

"Two years earlier, Rabin, setting aside a lifetime of enmity, appeared on the White House lawn with Yasir Arafat, the leader of the Palestine Liberation Organization and a former terrorist, to agree to a framework for limited Palestinian self-rule in the occupied territories; the next year, somewhat less painfully, he returned to the White House, with Jordan’s King Hussein, to officially end a forty-six-year state of war. Within months of Rabin’s death, Benjamin Netanyahu was the new Prime Minister and the prospects for a wider-ranging peace in the Middle East, which had seemed in Rabin’s grasp, were dead, too. Twenty years later, Netanyahu is into his fourth term, and the kind of peace that Rabin envisaged seems more distant than ever."

The article goes into detail about the borderline and violent thinking that went into that assassination and that presently animates RW Israelis pretty much as much as it animates Muslim extremists. The author notes that radical RW rabbis had labeled Rabin a;

"In the weeks leading up to Rabin’s murder, three extremist rabbis from the West Bank issued a written opinion suggesting that it would be acceptable to kill Rabin, on the ground that he had betrayed the Jewish people. The rabbis based their justification on the concept of din rodef, a Hebrew term that describes a person who is stalking a defenseless man. (“Rodef” means “pursuer” in Hebrew.) Under certain interpretations of the Talmud, it is obligatory to kill a rodef in order to save the intended victim. Amir later told his interrogators that he had consulted several rabbis in search of an official sanction but could never find one. (His brother, Hagai, insisted that he had.)"

But the reality is;

"As Ephron points out, it apparently never occurred to Amir that he himself was a rodef."

In the pretzel logic of all extremists, it was permissible for someone like Yigal Amir to stalk, pursue and assassinate the Prime Minister -- become a Rodef -- because a man doing a peace treaty was somehow a traitor to the country. You see this kind of loopy logic in the far right of most religious groups. The fear instilled by these crazy people has been such, that no one has picked up the flag since Rabin was assassinated. Anyone who has tried has been demonized and threatened with violence. Indeed, anyone who talks of peace now, is "compar[ed] to Hitler" in much the same way that Netanyahu and his blood thirsty cohorts compared Rabin to Hitler. Netanyahu encouraged that assassination fever. Netanyahu participated in a rallies where he:

"stood by as Rabin was vilified." and "crowds spent two hours chanting, “Death to Rabin.”

They sounded like a mirror image of the Palestinians they were vilifying.

"Netanyahu did nothing to discourage them." On the contrary, Netanyahu pursued Rabin's death. He encouraged his assassination. And since then Sharon or Netanyahu have taken turns pursuing anyone who criticized Israel's policies as if they were traitors to Israel. It doesn't matter who they were. Even Long time friend of Israel Jimmy Carter.

It is hard to think of someone like Netanyahu or Sharon as traitors to their country. But they had no problem with portraying their political rivals as such. And for what?

"While many of the deal’s opponents invoked religious justifications for maintaining Israel’s hold on the territories it acquired in the Six-Day War, a large number of the opponents were secular. What united the two groups was their rejection of the notion that any conquered territory should be turned over to the Palestinians, even in the interests of peace."

Religion??? Pfaw! This was simple greed given a thin spray paint of religious justified bellicosity. Most Israeli's would be more than happy to exchange land for genuine peace. But for those whose narcissism is justified by fear -- justice is not so important as power. According to Jewish law:

"The rule in Jewish law is that the offender, and he alone, is liable for his actions, and that he alone may be punished for his behavior."

The Talmud also talks about the importance of individual justice to security and peace. As long as there is collective punishment and retaliation -- there is no peace. But of course, given the long period of time in which Talmudic law was secondary to the law of the people Jews had to live among. There were debates between Nachmanides and Maimonides about whether collective punishment was ever justified. The context was that Nachmanides was trying to ward off collective punishment from Christians. Maimonides was talking about Shechem and in a completely different context.

A similar violent attitude has arisen among our political enemies here in the United States. Radical attacks on folks like Gabby Gifford or on Democratic Institutions like Planned Parenthood have become an order of daily business. In the loopy reasoning of scoundrels, the targets become the "pursuers", and the pursuers ("Rodef") become heroes. Those seeking peace become bad guys, and those stealing property from others, heroes. Greed is good. And when you take something from somebody by military might, might makes right.

That is where we are at right now. It has to change. It will collapse. God fashioned the mud into a ball, known as the earth, that he has aimed at those who would raise up a Gold painted effigy over mankind. You can't thoroughly corrupt language without paying a price. Our right and their right see only "business as usual." Even the author of this New Yorker Piece picks up on the incongruity:

"It’s jarring to contemplate the assassination of Rabin and then read Dennis Ross’s “Doomed to Succeed” (Farrar, Straus & Giroux), a detailed account of U.S.-Israeli relations since 1948."

Dennis Ross doesn't even get the slightest inkling of the massive immoral and corrupt reasons why Rabin's assassination was so important, and frankly, neither does the reviewer:

"In four hundred-plus pages, there is almost no mention of the changes that have transformed the Israeli polity in the past six decades, and surprisingly little discussion of the steady growth in the settlement population, which now exceeds half a million. For Ross, who was the State Department’s director of policy planning under President George H. W. Bush, the special Middle East coördinator under President Bill Clinton, and an adviser to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the settlements are evidently problematic only insofar as they present an obstacle to a smoothly functioning bilateral relationship. The United Nations and most foreign governments consider them illegal, but for him they are a political difficulty to be finessed. There is no talk of justice. Pressure on Israel—by Palestinians, by Europeans, by President Obama—appears to Ross bewildering and unreasonable."

This inability to even get the moral dimensions of Yigal Amir's corruption is why we've made no progress since Rabin's death.

Books OCTOBER 26, 2015 ISSUE, Shot in the Heart When Yitzhak Rabin was killed, did the prospects for peace perish, too? BY DEXTER FILKINS [http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/10/26/shot-in-the-heart]

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