Salman Masalha || Rabin was murdered as an Israeli
The years go by, the name changes and the memory is fading. It isn’t fading of its own accord. Someone is seeing to this. It has been 17 years since that Saturday, the 4th of November, at the square named for the Kings of Israel.
The shock that struck the land gave rise only to candles – nothing more. The focus on the search for domestic peace in the Jewish home in the wake of Yitzhak Rabin’s assassination has rendered the murderer, those who sent him and Rabin himself invisible. Everyone is content with memorializing at the square and naming street here and a building there after him.
Now that the official ceremonies, the official speeches and the official memorial are over and done with, it is possible to go back to calling the assassination by its real name: Establishing the memorial day on the 12th of the month of Heshvan, according to the Jewish-Hebrew calendar, plays an important role in the blurring of the significance of the murder.
It is necessary to go back and remind those who are trying to forget and those who are abetting the forgetfulness, that Rabin was murdered on November 4. He was not murdered on the 12th of Heshvan. In other words, the prime minister of Israel was assassinated as an Israeli. He was not assassinated as a Jew. Only the murderer, like those who sent him, the ideologists behind the scenes, acted as Jews and in accordance with the commands of Jewish time.
In a society that conducts itself according to tribal codes the individual has no value, even if he is the prime minister of the tribe. The value of the individual is measured by his ability to adopt the rigid codes of his tribe and to conduct himself in accordance with them. Any deviation from these codes is liable to lead to an extreme reaction on the part of those who see themselves as the tribe’s standard-bearers and the guardians of its honor.
The primal Zionist sin came with the establishment of the state. The Zionist leaders, from the left and the right, did not have the wisdom to separate the Jewish religion from the Jewish state. Two decades later the Six Day War erupted, bringing the Jewish tribe close to places fraught with religious and tribal values.
As the years passed the occupation became deeper and deeper, the settlements became more and more firmly established and the demography continued to gallop. The outlook held by Rabin, who had been the chief of staff of the 1967 occupation, was changed by the first intifada, when as minister of defense he had to deal with breaking he arms and legs of Palestinians who participated in the uprising.
Rabin understood, very belatedly, that the continuation of the occupation of another people, which is continuing to multiply and is posing a danger to the existence of the Jewish state with a Jewish majority, is a tangled knot that is hard to unravel. Therefore, if hesitantly, he turned to the Oslo path.
In order to achieve the Israeli-Zionist goal he crossed the red lines drawn by the standard bearers of the Jewish tribe. In establishing his government Rabin made us of the Israeli majority in the Knesset – that is, he relied on what is known as “Arab parties” as a blocking majority in the parliament. This act was like waving a red cape in front of the raging bull of Jewish fundamentalism and the definition of Israel as a “Jewish state.”
Because of this, the right flung at him the racist accusation that he didn’t have a “Jewish majority” for carrying out his policy. Rabin, in response, began to voice a civil, non-religious and non-ethnic discourse publicly and on the official channels. He used terms like racism and apartheid regarding the right.
The tribal elders gathered and begin to raise from the depths of the past archaic terms like din moser (the death sentence for a Jew who without a decision of a competent rabbinical authority has informed non-Jews about Jewish affairs or has delivered Jewish persons or property to their rule or authority) and din rodef (death for anyone ceding parts of the Land of Israel to gentiles) and all kinds of other rabbinical precepts and ways of dealing with a son who has misbehaved. Only one minor question remained open: Who would carry out their ruling?
The shots were fired by someone who saw Kings of Israel Square in Tel Aviv as the same as Sabbath square in the ultra-Orthodox Jewish neighborhood of Mea Shearim in Jerusalem, as the same as the tribal square. In other words, Rabin was assassinated as an Israeli who relied on an Israeli rather than a Jewish majority – that is, because he crossed the red lines of the Jewish tribe. He was murdered in a family honor killing, for the honor of the Jewish tribe.
The discourse that centers around the concept of a “Jewish state” has become more deeply rooted in recent years. It appears that from the perspective of the Israeli right, Rabin’s assassination is continuing to pay off.
Published: Opinion-Haaretz, 4 November 2012