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The Fumes That Fueled the Flame Are Still Around Us
The peace rally in Tel Aviv on Nov. 4, 1995 where Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated.(Israel Press and Photo Agency (I.P.P.A.) / Dan Hadani collection, National Library of Israel)

The Fumes That Fueled the Flame Are Still Around Us

Ma’ariv, Israel, November 4

Yitzhak Rabin was the last leader who sought to end the conflict with the Palestinians. Unfortunately, his fate was sealed before he managed to seal the fate of the territories that Israel occupied during the Six Day War. The security failure that allowed Yigal Amir to assassinate Rabin with three gunshots does not give rest to senior members of the defense establishment who were in charge of the prime minister’s security. Rightly so. In the moment of truth, the warnings and the intelligence analysis were not enough. Everything collapsed in the wake of the assassin’s determination to thwart Rabin’s political agenda. In a way, this also determined the fate of Israel, which deepened its grip over the Occupied Territories and committed itself to a bloody conflict with no end in sight. Signs of shock and sorrow were evident in the streets for a very short time, after which a campaign of denial began by many of those involved in the violent incitement that preceded Rabin’s assassination. For these people, there was no stopping until the two-state solution was taken off the table once and for all. In fact, to this day, Israeli society has not held an honest discussion and has not dealt with the causes that led to the murder. The left contented itself with blaming the right, while the right chose to fortify itself, protect its figureheads, and fend off the collective guilt. In any case, in these circumstances there isn’t, and has not been, a real chance for national reconciliation. On the contrary: it seems that in a political struggle against the Bennett government, members of parliament from the Likud and Religious Zionism parties have chosen to use similar rhetoric to that which we heard in the months leading to Rabin’s assassination. The approval of the state budget may give the Bennett-Lapid government much-needed stability. And, as this happens, the opposition on the right chooses to escalate its rhetoric and its delegitimization of Bennett and his government. The end justifies the means. The limits of freedom of expression are stretched to the edge of the possible limit and perhaps even beyond it. Knesset member Bezalel Smotrich signed an online campaign calling to “stop the madness now: the terrorism budget will not pass.” Along with the caption were pictures of Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, Knesset member Mansour Abbas, and Yahya Sinwar, a Hamas leader in the Gaza Strip. Similarly, in an ad for the right-wing demonstration held on behalf of the national camp last week, Knesset Members Tzachi Hanegbi, Ofir Akunis, May Golan and Itamar Ben-Gvir appeared side by side, with the demonstration location reading “Malchei Israel Square,” the name that preceded “Rabin Square” before the assassination. During the demonstration, thousands of protesters chanted against the government and claimed it has a connection with Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood. Make no mistake: This isn’t legitimate political criticism, but violent incitement against Arab members of Knesset and especially against Prime Minister Bennett. And all of it just because he refused to ally with Benjamin Netanyahu to form a joint government. Israeli society is no less polarized today than it was on Nov. 4, 1995, and in many ways the fumes that ignited the fire of hatred against Rabin are still spreading around us. Still, there seems to be leaders on the right who have learned nothing and have forgotten nothing. Thanks to their incitement, someone might just take matters into their own hands and target Prime Minister Bennett.  – Orit Lavie-Nashiel (translated by Asaf Zilberfarb)

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