Rabin’s legacy

Rabin’s legacy, his blessing, is the ongoing Zionist commitment to a better future for the people of Israel in its homeland.

Bill Clinton: Israel must decide how to 'finish last chapter' of Rabin's story
Weeks before Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated, a small group of religious fanatics stood before his house and intoned the mystical pulsa dinura, a cabbalistic curse of death. This spiritual “contract” was put on Rabin’s life by rabbis invoking the concept of rodef, a Jewish traitor.
This was a corruption of a concept developed by Maimonides, who held that an individual has the right of preemptive self-defense to kill a pursuer who intends to kill him. The fanatics extended this precept to include a Jew whom they considered to be a traitor to his people – in Rabin’s case, by his being willing to give up land deemed promised by God to the Jewish people in exchange for peace.
As a result of his pursuing a peace agreement with the Palestinians based on territorial compromise, Rabin was viewed by numerous rabbis – both in Israel and the Diaspora – as a rodef and traitor to the Jewish people, deserving of death. Hindsight begs the question how could anyone 20 years ago, no matter how driven by pseudo-religious fervor, label someone a traitor who fought valiantly to save Jerusalem in the War of Independence? Who liberated Jerusalem in the astounding victory of 1967? Who served his country tirelessly as ambassador, minister of labor and of defense, and twice as prime minister? Rabin, the first sabra prime minister, was the personification of Zionism. He led the country in times of peace and in war, without allowing the persistent absence of peace to blur his vision of a future peace. This vision he pursued to the very moment of his death at a huge rally for peace in Tel Aviv.
Amid all the eulogies and recollections that evoke the memory of this outstanding man and leader on the twentieth anniversary of his murder, one stubborn question must be asked again, as it should every year and not every decade. With all that we value from his life’s achievements, have we as a society learned anything from the manner of his death? We have the responsibility of recognizing that violent rhetoric invariably leads to violent deeds. The pervasive campaign of malevolence that targeted Rabin in the weeks preceding his assassination – from death-wishing rabbis to right-wing posters depicting the liberator of Jerusalem in a Nazi uniform – set the stage for his assassin to act upon.
Twenty years later, news reports depict Yigal Amir as unrepentant, even glorifying his heinous act from his solitary confinement, while his chief accomplice, his brother Hagai, has just been rearrested following his own years of imprisonment for threatening President Reuven Rivlin on Facebook. If the very assassins have not learned anything in 20 years, what does this say about their fellow travelers, then and now? Are political differences among Jews being aired in a less confrontational manner? Are nationalist differences among Jews and Arabs the subject of enlightening debate in good faith or are we engaged in an almost daily confrontation over the Temple Mount that threatens a third intifada, if not a third world war? There is overwhelming evidence that the rhetoric of intolerance continues to impact the actions of susceptible sociopaths, Jewish or Arab. It goes without saying that incitement by Palestinian leaders produces its own bloody consequences, but that is another issue. Israelis must concern themselves with the effects of the behavior of our own leaders, whether religious or secular.
The same rabbinical school of thought that sponsored the pulsa dinura against Rabin two decades ago went on to produce the so-called Torah “sages” who published the tract Torat Hamelech, which justifies killing Arab infants for fear they could grow up to become terrorists.
Our security services have concluded that Jewish terrorists were responsible for the firebombing murders of the Palestinian Dawabsha family of Duma last summer. Jewish terrorists burned alive 16-year-old Muhammad Abu Khdeir in supposed retaliation for the 2014 kidnapping and murder of three Jewish teens by Hamas.
Jewish extremists engage in countless “price tag” attacks, while messianic settlers deny Palestinian farmers access to their farmland under the watchful eyes of nonintervening IDF troops.
Twenty years later, some Israeli Jews still irresponsibly filter their political views through their own prism of Halacha, which only a Sanhedrin has the prerogative to decide.
Yitzhak Rabin laid down his life on the altar of peace. His legacy will emerge in the appearance of religious and political leaders who envision a better future and work toward it with similar dedication and pragmatism. Rabin’s legacy, his blessing, is the ongoing Zionist commitment to a better future for the people of Israel in its homeland.