Many people, close to father [Yitzhak Rabin] told me that on the eve of the murder he considered stopping the Oslo process because of the terror that was running rampant in the streets and that Arafat wasn’t delivering the goods – Dalia Rabin, October 8, 2010

Sandwiched between the end of September, the month in which the Oslo Accords were signed, and beginning of November, in which Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated, October is a month awash with introspective ruminations, retrospective reflections, solemn memorial ceremonies and soul-searching commemorations.

Closely connected in the public mind


It is a month in which, invariably, some-well known public figure can be found analyzing – or pontificating on – the significance of an event (the Oslo Accords), whose anniversary has just recently been observed, or of an event whose anniversary is just about to be observed (the Rabin assassination).

Moreover, because of discrepancies between the Gregorian and Hebrew calendars, anniversaries according to the latter sometimes fall within – as occurred this year with the 18th anniversary of Rabin’s assassination. According to the Hebrew calendar this took place on the 12th of the month Heshvan, i.e. on Wednesday, October 16, this week.

Although they are entirely separate events – the signing of the Oslo Accords and the Rabin assassination – they have become almost inextricably intertwined in the public consciousness to comprise a contrived tragi-heroic conceptual complex presented as “Rabin’s heritage.”

The proximity of the dates has facilitated this perceptual fusion of the two events, which have cognitively merged to become mutually sustaining components in the perpetuation and propagation of this “heritage.”

Both are crucial to its preservation. The assassination provides the element of tragedy, while the Oslo process provides the image of heroic daring in a bold endeavor to achieve peace. Absent either element, and the notional construct of “heritage” loses much, of its dramatic effect, and hence its political potency.

Distortion, deception, deceit

In recent weeks, I have written repeatedly on control of the discourse in Israel, how certain aspects of issues and events are underscored and others downplayed and how this control plays a major role in determining the political agenda.

The coverage this week of the commemoration of the Rabin assassination, coupled with that of the Oslo process, provided a remarkable illustration of the working of this mechanism in promoting the alleged inevitability of the two-state-solution.

The perception of a positive Oslo-related Rabinesque “heritage” can only be maintained by pervasive distortion, deception and deceit. For the Oslo Accords were an act of moral turpitude that by any rational criterion of common sense and common decency should bring dishonor to anyone associated with it. It was an egregious, imbecilic blunder that precipitated all the tragedy its opponents warned of, and none of the benefits its proponents promised.

It is more than doubtful that Yitzhak Rabin would have ever committed his pen to paper if, prior to his signature on the ill-considered Oslo Accords, he had at his disposal a crystal ball by which he could foresee events – the thousands of Israelis killed and/or maimed, the Islamist takeover of Gaza, the massive build-up of rockets aimed at Israeli cities.

But of course, those who have hitched their political fortunes to the Oslowian paradigm of political appeasement and territorial withdrawal cannot allow the truth of the gruesome consequences to dominate the discourse. Accordingly, they need to produce, promote and perpetuate a parallel narrative that suppresses discussion of what has happened and fosters the illusion of what hasn’t. This they have done with great success.

Sadly, the mendacity of this endeavor is matched only by the impotence and the incompetence of their alleged ideological opponents.

Reinventing events

A vividly illustrative demonstration of how this is done was furnished by opposition leader Shelly Yacimovich, in her address on Wednesday at a Knesset session commemorating the 18th anniversary of the assassination.

In many ways this is a particularly distressing example, since for all the differences I have with her on a range of topics, Yacimovich comes across as a politician of greater integrity than most.

It is thus especially disturbing to encounter what can only be charitably characterized as an “imaginative” account of Rabin’s political precepts, intentions and abilities.

For example, regarding Rabin’s adoption of the Oslo process, she proclaims, “He was murdered because he implemented a policy he believed in; for which he was elected in democratic elections to lead the nation. He did not surprise his voters as did leaders of the “Right... he did exactly what he promised.

That is what he was elected for.”

Yacimovich goes on to disingenuously impute to Rabin endorsement of the two-state principle, declaring: “We haven’t really tried the two-statesfor- two-peoples solution. We might have intended to. Rabin intended to – honestly and sincerely. He was also capable of leading such a move; to implement it in practice with all its complexities difficulties and risks. He was murdered before we tried it.

Rabin did not endorse the idea of two states because he was enamored with the Palestinians or with the peace process. [He did it because] he loved Israel.”

Setting the record straight


Yacimovich is of course wildly incorrect on both scores – with regard to Rabin’s electoral pledges and to his embrace of the two-state-for-two-peoples idea.

Rabin’s electoral campaign never included the slightest hint that he would engage Arafat’s terrorist PLO in negotiations and certainly none that he would hand over large swathes of Judea, Samaria and Gaza to PLO rule. That would have almost certainly ensured electoral defeat. Indeed, at the time of the election any contact with the PLO was forbidden by Israeli law.

The ban on private contacts was lifted only several months after the 1992 election, pushed through by left-wing elements in the coalition despite Rabin’s reluctance, arguably underscored by the fact that he did not show up for the Knesset vote.

As David Makovsky of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy notes (in his “Making Peace with the PLO”): “This may have been one of the many indications that [Rabin] had no grand design to initiate negotiations with the PLO.”

Indeed, Makovsky remarks that even after the passage of the bill, “Rabin pledged there would be no governmental contacts [with the PLO].”

Astoundingly, as Makovsky reveals, Rabin was unaware of the Oslo process until almost nine months after the June 1992 election, when Peres informed him of them – in February 1993!! How then could Yacimovich claim that Rabin was elected to implement a policy whose formulation he knew nothing about at the time he was elected?

Setting the record straight (cont.)

Yacimovich also grossly misrepresents Rabin’s embrace of the two-state paradigm.

Prof. Sean McMahon correctly points out in his The Discourse of Palestinian-Israeli Relations: “During the [1992] election campaign Rabin promised that...he would try to reach an agreement on Palestinian autonomy within six to nine months. Rabin’s Labor Party platform ‘categorically rejected the establishment of a Palestinian state west of the Jordan River.’ “Rabin promised to pursue an autonomy agreement with the Palestinians. He did not promise to pursue an agreement whereby Palestinians would obtain statehood.”

McMahon continues, “Even after [Oslo I] had been accepted by the Knesset Peres and Rabin [kept] assuring the Israelis that the new Palestinian entity [would] not be a sovereign state.... Rabin was explicit: a Palestinian state would not issue forth from the Oslo process.”

A brief glance at the Labor platform for the 1992 election will quickly confirm McMahon’s contention.

It states, “The political realities in the region... make it imperative to reach a Jordanian- Palestinian framework agreement... and not a separate Palestinian state west of the Jordan.”

Perhaps Yacimovich should consult her party archives.

Rabin’s real ‘heritage?’

But perhaps the most dramatic demonstration of how Rabin’s political doctrine (read “heritage”) has been corrupted by his self-anointed “disciples” is to be found in the text of his final address to the Knesset, on October 5, 1995, barely a month before his assassination. In the address, in which he sought parliamentary ratification of the Oslo II Agreement, he laid out his vision for the permanent agreement with the Palestinians.

Repudiating the well-known Obama prescription, he asserted categorically, “We will not return to the June 4, 1967, lines.”

Rejecting the idea of a sovereign Palestinian state, he declared: “The permanent solution will include a Palestinian entity which will be an entity which is less than a state.”

He then went on to detail some of the “the main changes, not all of them, which we envision and want in the permanent solution.”

On Jerusalem: First and foremost, a united Jerusalem, which will include both Ma’aleh Adumim and Givat Ze’ev – as the capital of Israel, under Israeli sovereignty.

On the Jordan Valley: “The security border of the State of Israel will be located in the Jordan Valley, in the broadest sense of that term.”

On the settlements: “Changes which will include the addition of Gush Etzion, Efrat, Betar and other communities, most of which are in the area east of what was the Green Line prior to the Six Day War.”

And perhaps most significantly: “The establishment of [new] blocs of settlements in Judea and Samaria, like the ones in Gush Katif” [subsequently destroyed by Ariel Sharon’s 2005 disengagement from Gaza].

Democratic debacle?

This was the last public articulation of parameters Rabin envisioned for the final settlement with the Palestinians. Significantly, the address was made after he had been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize and after having been internationally lauded as a “valiant warrior for peace.”

This is what the Israeli public was led to believe was the significance of the Oslo Accords.

Yet today, were any Israeli leader to embrace verbatim Nobel laureate Rabin’s prescription, he would be dismissed as an unrealistic extremist, bent on obstructing the attainment of peace, by the likes of Yacimovich, who remarked sarcastically in her Knesset address that she did not expect Binyamin Netanyahu “to identify politically with Rabin.”

Seeing that Netanyahu has already proposed arrangements far more concessionary than any Rabin ever dreamed of, one can only wonder what she would say if he did! But quite apart from the mean-spirited hypocrisy that characterizes the discussion of Rabin’s alleged “heritage,” the entire Oslo process is an abomination in terms of democratic governance, and a moral blight on the nation’s history.

Not only was it a calamitous failure that brought grief and trauma to thousands of Israeli homes; not only did it entail violations – explicit and implicit – of electoral pledges; not only did it involve demeaning appeasement with, and recognition of, a murderous Judeophobic organization, headed by a bloodstained murderer who embodied virtually all the most repugnant humans vices imaginable, but its passage through the Knesset comprised a grave distortion of the wishes of the electorate as expressed at the polls.

Born in sin

Given the fact that over 60% of the current population are too young to have had any real interest in politics at the time, few will remember that following Rabin’s above-mentioned address, Oslo II was ratified by a margin of a single vote. It was the vote of one MK, Gonen Segev, who had been elected to the Knesset on behalf of the hawkish Tzomet faction, which opposed everything Oslo represented. He was “bribed” by Rabin to desert his party and join the Oslophilic coalition in exchange for a ministerial portfolio.

Several year later, ex-minister Segev was arrested and convicted for drug-smuggling and credit-card fraud. He was sentenced to several years in prison and on release was last heard of somewhere in Nigeria.

So in the final analysis, Oslo owes its entire existence to a drug-smuggling fraudster, who betrayed his voters – and brought disgrace to his country. That is perhaps the most compelling testimony as to the nature of those egregious, imbecilic accords – and something I am sure Rabin would want expunged from his “heritage.”

Martin Sherman (www.martinsherman.net) is the founder and executive director of the Israel Institute for Strategic Studies. (www.strategic-israel.org)

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