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13 Years After the Assassination, Wounds Still Fester

November 20, 2008 By:
Elliot Jager
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Thirteen years after the assassination of prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, both the left and the right have embraced a single corrosive motto: "Never forget, never forgive." If they persist, our Zionist enterprise is at risk.

The left appropriated Rabin's memory, distanced it from the nation as a whole, and exploited it for partisan ends. Rabin's murder was held over the heads of everyone who opposed Oslo.

The right closed its mind to the possibility that, maybe, just maybe, even if unintentionally, its leaders said things that contributed to the atmosphere which set the stage for the killing.

Time has not healed our nation's wounds. Instead, we've spent the past 13 years locked into "never forget, never forgive."

In the time leading up to the murder, Israel was riven by political strife and buffeted by Arab violence.

Who remembers that just days before he was killed, Rabin declared that any final deal with the PLO would have to include settlement blocs?

Who recalls that it was the late president Ezer Weizman who challenged the legitimacy of the Oslo II accords, telling Israel Radio: "This is not an agreement. It was passed by one-vote majority. And if that vote hadn't received a Mitsubishi [an illusion to the fact that one of the Knesset votes that ensured passage was bought with a ministerial post that included a car as a fringe benefit], there would not be an agreement."

If only we could turn back the clock. If only Yigal Amir had been apprehended on the night of Nov. 4, 1995, before Rabin finished his address to 100,000 supporters at what was then called Kikar Malchei Yisrael and is now named in his honor.

It was not to be.

We cannot say that reason has since prevailed, though it could have.

On the day of Rabin's funeral, Rabbi Avraham Shapira, a guiding authority of the Gush Emunim settlement, called Amir a murderer lacking in Jewish morality. The Council of Jewish settlements in Judea, Samaria and Gaza rejected him and those who embraced him. Most of Rabin's opponents were genuinely stunned, even brokenhearted.

Yet, from the start, a minority of extremists termed the killing "heavenly retribution."

Exacerbating tensions, his grieving widow blamed not only the killer, but all opponents of Oslo, claiming, "There definitely was incitement, which was strongly absorbed and found itself a murderer, who did this because he felt he had the support of a broad public with an extremist approach."

That the left lacked magnanimity in no way absolves the right today from excommunicating those fanatics -- a small minority of the pro-settler universe -- who practice violence or preach perfidy.

A process of demonization is taking place before our eyes. The Israeli government -- whatever its many faults -- and the Israel Defense Force are denigrated as "un-Jewish." The nation watched in shock as Kiryat Arba rabbi Dov Lior compared the actions of the IDF in dismantling the settler outpost to the behavior of Nazi soldiers in occupied Poland.

Who on the right will denounce the rabbi's words?

In recent weeks, masked, rock-throwing, Jewish youths have fought with soldiers. Who on the right will denounce this despicable behavior?

I hear that radical parents are teaching their children that IDF soldiers sent to take down illegal structures aren't "real" Jews. Extremists have launched "revenge attacks" against Arabs. Others have prayed for IDF soldiers to be captured, defeated, even killed. Mercifully, at least this has been condemned.

Let no one on the right wince when security officials warn that an atmosphere is being created that makes another political murder possible.

No matter how passionately Israelis disagree, no matter how high the stakes, we absolutely must contend with one another exclusively within the political arena.

Those determined to wage war on a different plain -- imbued by the delusion that they are the last of the Jews -- must be socially, politically and religiously isolated, first and foremost, by supporters of the settlement enterprise.

Elliot Jager is the editorial page editor of The Jerusalem Post.

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