Netanyahu's incitement could once again lead to murder

No one contributed more seriously or directly to the atmosphere of hatred, incitement and shedding of Rabin’s blood than Netanyahu. Now, he is using those same techniques today.

ISRAELIS PROTEST the Oslo II peace accords. (photo credit: REUTERS)
ISRAELIS PROTEST the Oslo II peace accords.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The first Oslo Accords were signed on August 20, 1993, and the second on October 5, 1995, just one month before prime minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated on November 4, 1995.
Throughout this entire period, beginning with the signing of the first Oslo Accords and ending with the bullets that hit Rabin in the back, a public campaign against the agreement was being waged. The agreement signed by Rabin’s government was naturally identified with him, even though Shimon Peres claimed justifiably that he, too, was an influential player in the process that led to the signing of the agreement.
The target of the attacks, threats, incitement and hatred was first and foremost Rabin. Other groups took part in the public campaign of incitement against Rabin. The settlers were, of course, one of the most extreme and violent components of this hunting spree, but many groups took part in it. Right-wing supporters, including from the Likud Party, of which I was a member at the time, were in a large part responsible for this incitement and the dissemination of antagonistic remarks against Rabin.
But there was one man who stood at the forefront of this campaign: Benjamin Netanyahu. At the time, he was the leader of the opposition, and was a very serious candidate who was hoping to defeat Rabin in elections that were scheduled to take place in 1997, four years after the election that had empowered Rabin to serve his second term as prime minister.
Netanyahu participated in the marches, protests and mass rallies in which people called for the abrogation of the Oslo Accords. These events overflowed with people spouting inciteful allegations that translated into calls for the murder of the prime minister.
In March 1994, a massive rally was held in Ra’anana, in which Benjamin Netanyahu participated. Activists held signs that read “Israel is in danger,” “Rabin is killing Zionism” and “Rabin is burying Zionism.” Someone was even seen carrying a rope in the shape of a noose.
At about the same time, a demonstration was held near the Laromme Hotel in Jerusalem. In his speech there that evening, Netanyahu said: “This lowly murderer (meaning Yasser Arafat) is being raised up by the current Israeli government, which is enabling him in their blindness to carry out the first stage of his plan: destroying the State of Israel.”
Netanyahu hushed the protesters who were calling Rabin a traitor, telling them to refrain from using such language. (By the way, Netanyahu continued speaking about Arafat, saying how he wished for the destruction of Israel, yet not long after, he could be seen at a meeting at the White House shaking his hand warmly and saying, “I’ve found a friend.”)
DURING THE protest that took place on the day the second Oslo Accords were signed, protesters called out, “Rabin is Arafat’s dog” and “Death to Rabin.” In addition, protesters were holding posters with a picture of Rabin dressed as a Nazi SS officer. All of this took place with the participation of Netanyahu.
Netanyahu was not the only one who took part in this incitement, though he is the one who was carried upon the shoulders of the protesters who called for the assassination of Rabin. Moshe Feiglin, one of Netanyahu’s political partners, who was recently promised to be made a minister, said back then: “Hitler also rose to power through democratic elections. Rabin is the Judenrat who helped the Jews climb onto the trains.”
Itamar Ben-Gvir, who is also a familiar guest at the house on Balfour Street, and who is one of the current prime minister’s favorite buddies, took part in the violent attack on the car used by Rabin, who happened not to be inside of it during the attack. Ben-Gvir snatched the hood ornament off the front of the car, and the next day during the protest in front of the Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem, said, “Just as we got to the emblem of his car, we will get to the Rabin.”
Ben-Gvir was arrested, and then immediately released. He headed the Otzma Yehudit list in the most recent election, and engaged in lengthy talks with Netanyahu regarding possible opportunities for cooperation.
We must tell things as they are: Of course, it’s clear that Netanyahu was not responsible for Rabin’s murder. He wasn’t involved in the plot to kill him and had no connection whatsoever to the murderer or to people who encouraged him to murder Rabin.
On the other hand, no one contributed more seriously or directly to the atmosphere of hatred, incitement and shedding of Rabin’s blood than Netanyahu. He was the one who first and foremost led the largest opposition party, which numbered 32 seats, and gave legitimacy to hotheaded radicals and zealots who directly called for the killing of the prime minister. Netanyahu was present and participated as the keynote speaker at these events.
I wouldn’t repeat all this, except that Netanyahu himself reminds us of those days by using the same techniques of incitement, sectarianism, undermining the legitimacy of anyone who disagrees with him, and calling his opponents – including elected officials who are members of Knesset and people who hold important public positions – collaborators with people who wish to destroy the State of Israel.
Up until just a few months ago, Netanyahu blamed Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz and Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi for collaborating with people who want to bring about the destruction of the State of Israel.
IN THE MEANTIME, Gantz and Ashkenazi have been granted temporary legitimacy, but as is common with Netanyahu, this legitimacy will dissipate the day the government they created together falls apart, at which point all the partners will not go back to being rivals or opponents, but enemies who want to destroy our country.
There’s no escaping the fact that Netanyahu has no borders, just as the State of Israel has no borders. Netanyahu does not want Israel to have borders, because he declares that he’s going to annex territories that are not part of our country. Annexing this area will come with stiff security, political, economic, social and international prices. Most importantly, we may have to pay this price with our own blood, as well as the blood of our children and our neighbors who need to be citizens of a Palestinian state that will someday be established. In the meantime, the blood of too many is being shed.
The growing incitement that is spreading is now primarily being aimed against those who are considered the current enemies of Netanyahu, his son and the gang that supports him, including members of the state attorney-general’s office and Israeli judges, in particular Supreme Court justices. Soon, judges of the Jerusalem District Court, where Netanyahu will be on trial, will find themselves the target of incitement, insults and threats.
This is not going to end well. There just isn’t any other option. When a former police chief and Shin Bet hero is accused of framing the prime minister of a severe criminal offense together with the attorney-general by the prime minister inside the Jerusalem courthouse, it’s impossible not to see the direction things are going. It’s also difficult to miss the influence they are having on an atmosphere that might result in murderous violence against those who are being blamed.
When Supreme Court judges receive letters that explicitly threaten their lives, this is not the result of an hallucination or casual passion of the sender. The person creating the atmosphere that leads to the use of such threats is the prime minister and the people who assist him. These assistants who oftentimes persuade him to carry out these actions include his son and a whole host of public figures, ministers and members of Knesset. They do not hesitate to direct savage language at people who in the past have, and in the near future will be expected to play an important role in the prime minister’s trial.
In the midst of this separatist turmoil, the prime minister promised that he would decide by July 1 on the partial annexation of the West Bank, and a status change of Jewish communities.
THERE IS NO doubt that such a provocative move could lead the entire Middle East into a whirlwind of violence and terrorist activity carried out by Palestinians in the West Bank, and perhaps even in Jerusalem and other Israeli cities. Unilateral annexation will cross a red line that will lead to a political campaign led by moderate Arab nations, some of which strongly desire friendly relations with a peace-loving Israel. But if you listen to what their spokespeople are saying explicitly and directly, they will distance themselves from Israel if it takes steps that can lead the entire region into a vortex that will end in bloodshed.
And not only Arab countries will object. All of Europe will rise up against Israel, and most of America will join in on the condemnation of Israel. They will call Israel an oppressive regime that tramples the rights of another people, oppresses them and denies them self determination.
Is it possible that Netanyahu does not understand what he might be leading the State of Israel into? I am convinced that he knows, and that he understands and fears the consequences of such a step. That’s why, in my opinion, I think he’ll end up making some bombastic declaration, with all the bells and whistles. That will cause us serious damage, and might even lead to acts of terrorism, however, I doubt that anything will progress to a more advanced stage that will actually change facts on the ground.
So, if it is so clear, then why is Netanyahu letting himself get dragged into this mess? What does he gain? What’s so urgent now that justifies all this damaging chaos Netanyahu’s dragging us into?
Netanyahu’s agenda is not our agenda. Netanyahu is managing this campaign in order to divert our attention from the real problem that’s plaguing him: his own personal destiny, as well as his and his family’s future. In this regard, everything is kosher, every move is justified, no price too high.
The only problem is, this behavior is bringing us back to the days in which incitement, insults and threats ended in murder.
The same thing could happen this time around. Netanyahu will never admit that he has a hand in the creating of this evil atmosphere, in which someone will think they are justified in harming a public defender or a judge. When it happens this time – and we’re much closer to such an occurrence than some might think – the prime minister won’t be able to say that he wasn’t forewarned.
He’s been warned and he should have learned from previous experiences. He knew that incitement could end with the shooting of a gun, in the placing of a bomb, or even with an assassination. In the meantime, he continues with his days as if none of this has any importance, as long as he continues to reside on Balfour Street.
The writer was the 12th prime minister of Israel.