Dealing with an assassin's baby

Never has the killer of a president or a prime minister lived to see his child come into the world.

By SHELLY PAZ
October 24, 2007 01:06
4 minute read.
Dealing with an assassin's baby

yigal amir 224.88. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimksi)

The upcoming birth of the son to Larissa Trimbobler and Yigal Amir, the man who assassinated former prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, forces Israeli society to face a sensitive new dilemma. Many murderers have brought children into the world, but never in history has the killer of a president or a prime minister lived to see such an event, simply because they have always been executed or otherwise killed shortly after committing the crime. Now, Israel's young and still-developing democratic policy-makers must ponder the question of how to deal with this birth. How much attention and media coverage should this saga receive? Where should the line be drawn, and who should draw it? And what life does this unborn child have ahead of him? Dr. Yitzhak Kadman, executive director of the Committee on the Rights of the Child, refused to address the case of an unborn child, but said that "this child will not be the first one to carry on his shoulders the consequences of his parents' actions. Children have been born to people who murdered or [who] even betrayed their homeland." Every child has to struggle to find his individual voice, for better or for worse, but particularly a famous child, said Prof. Hanoch Yerushalmi from the department of Community and Mental Health at Haifa University. "There are examples of people who were born to notorious parents but managed to overcome, [although] not without great effort, [their parents'] reputation. For example, Manfred Rommel, the son of the infamous Erwin Rommel, the Nazi field marshal, developed his own opinions and became mayor of Stuttgart." According to Yerushalmi, a child's perspective and mental health depend on how well his parents mediate between him and the world. "A parent shouldn't deprive his child of the truth, no matter how bad it is, but he can soften it for him. A child like this should have as much contact as possible with his father to avoid the creation of an unrealistic mythos for the child." Though the media has not ceased to cover Amir's relationship with Trimbobler, it has done so with a great deal of repugnance. "The Israeli media has struck a serious blow to the Israeli democratic system," said Motti Morell, a leading strategic adviser. "None of the things that deal with Yigal Amir should be published or covered. He should rot in jail and be erased and forgotten from the Israeli consciousness. Journalists can reject news items about this person's life, but they don't do it, and they will bring about his release someday because of their irresponsible behavior." Public relations guru Rani Rahav blames the Israeli democratic system, "which wanted to be the paragon of justice and enlightenment out of a desire to fulfill the Israeli judges' vision [of imitating the US and Britain]." He also points to Kadman's powerlessness, saying he "usually does holy work, but this time he messed up big time" because he didn't prevent the conception of Amir's child, who would be unable to lead a normal life. Finally, he criticizes Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz for letting down his guard and allowing Amir to father a child. "If this baby, who hasn't committed a crime, could have been asked, I am sure he wouldn't choose to be born into a world that would be cruel to him and alienate him," he said. Prof. Yoram Peri, head of the Herzog Institute for Media, Society and Politics at Tel Aviv University, believes the Israeli media has made a fatal mistake by increasing coverage of Amir, his wedding and the conception and future delivery of his child. "The media's considerations are not professional, but rather rating-oriented. It's a good story, it's voyeurism and pornography - it sells, but it has no journalistic value. This sort of coverage prevents the need to address serious issues like the peace process that was harshly disrupted, the process to normalize our relationship with the Arab world that was led by Rabin and interrupted, the threat to our democracy that this assassination has caused and the fact that certain groups in Israeli society haven't assimilated the values that come with democracy," said Peri. Ben Kaspit, a senior Ma'ariv journalist, said he wished the media would ignore Amir's existence. "This child raises an impossible dilemma, a child who hasn't done anything wrong but will probably be a pawn in his father's campaign," he said. "What can we do when the time comes to face this child? Personally, I am deeply embarrassed ... If this were utopia, this child would have been raised in complete anonymity." Amnon Lord, the editor-in-chief of the Makor Rishon newspaper, said that although he published a story last week about Trimbobler's advanced pregnancy, he tries to keep his distance from the pregnancy affair in particular and Amir's actions in general. "As a society, we should have dedicated these annual memorial days to speaking about Rabin the person and his legacy, instead of using these days as a reminder and an opportunity to point to the collective religious public as responsible for what happened," said Lord. Prof. Pinhas Shifman of the Faculty of Law at the Hebrew University and the head of the Center for Law and Business in Ramat Gan College said that regardless of his disagreement with the way the marriage was conducted and the fact that both the rabbinical court and the attorney-general approved it, this child's right to privacy and proper treatment must be maintained. "I don't think that after this child is born he should suffer or carry his parents' burden, simply because he is not responsible for his father's actions. The law protects him just as it protects any other child, famous or not." Trimbobler refused to comment for this article.


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