Thursday, October 25, 2007

Rabin As A Symbol in the Jewish Wars; Palstineans Irrelevant

Yitzhak Rabin (and his antithesis, the assassin Yigal Amir) have become symbols.

Rabin stands for a secular, "normal" Israel. Amir for a Jewish state with a messianic mission.

At this 12th anniversary of Rabin's assassination, Yigal Amir's followers are lobbying hard for his redemption. And a shocking - though still a minority - number of Israelis support them. According to polls, 26% of all Israelis (and 46% of religious Jewish Israelis) want Amir freed in 8 years, when his minimum 20 years has been served. Nearly half of Israeli Jews think Amir should be given day leave to attend the bris of his soon to be born son.

Rabin supporters ask pointedly why was Amir allowed to marry in prison, and have conjugal visits.

The religious right, which has long been lobbying for Amir, has even propagated the theory that Amir is innocent and was framed by the Israeli security services. (A shocking 24% of Israelis believe Amir is innocent!) In their latest campaign, they have produced a short film titled "Peace is Made with Brothers" that announces "Next Passover Yigal will be home." Copies of the film are being handed out across the country.

Rabin supporters, of course, continue to revile Amir as symbol of all that is wrong about Israeli society. Eitan Haber, Rabin's close adviser and confidante, wrote in Yediot Achronot.

"You can all take note: This villain will only leave prison on a gurney covered with a sheet. Actually, why waste money on a sheet? A rag will suffice."

The situation was well summed up by author and historian Michael Oren.

"The societal divisions that marked the era in which the prime minister was murdered remain as wide as ever."

"The left has turned memorializing Rabin into a display of leftist power, and the right calls for Amir’s clemency or extols him as a hero."

"The Rabin assassination still goes to the heart of division that goes right through Israeli society, not only between the right and left but between Israel as a secular, normal state and as a Jewish state with a role in a Messianic agenda. The Palestinians are almost ancillary to the story."


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