Naomi Ragen - Nov 10, 2008
Today is the 13th anniversary of the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin according to the Jewish calendar. In Israel the week around the day has long been turned by the Israeli political establishment into an annual ritual of McCarthyist attacks on freedom of speech. In ceremony after ceremony and speech after speech, Israelis are reminded by their politicians and by the chattering class that Rabin was murdered because those who disagreed with his policies were allowed to exercise freedom of speech. The myth of a conspiracy by Rabbis and by the political Right to have Rabin killed is repeated with all the mechanical repetition of the Big Lies of two generations ago. This year, even Olmert repeated it, although he was a member of the Likud in 95 and is clearly one of those the McCarthyist Left asserts is collectively guilty of the murder.
Never mind that not a single Rabbi has been identified as having expressed approval of the idea of killing Rabin, nor approval after it happened, and not a single politician from the Israeli Right cheered or said hurrah when Rabin was killed. A handful of fringe Kahanists might have said hurrah, half of whom were probably police moles, but they are hardly representative of the half of Israelis who opposed Rabin's policies.
I disliked Rabin and his policies. I think his policies were disasters and that they directly produced the 2000 or so Israeli deaths from the Oslo "peace process." That does not make me a killer of Rabin. I am tired of being accused by the McCarthyists of having been part of the assassination. Like virtually everyone else who hated Rabin's foolish policies, I wanted him evicted from power via an election and not murdered. I also want Kadima evicted via an election.
The anniversary of Rabin's killing could have been turned into a day of education about democracy and freedom of speech. A day in which Israeli children are reminded that political assassination is an attack on democracy, and where they are also reminded that everyone has the right to freedom of speech even if they disagree with the leftist canon. Most importantly, a constructive Rabin Day would remind Israelis of the massive anti-democratic wave of McCarthyism launched by the Left right after the assassination, in which dissidents (including Rabbis) were arrested, indicted, harassed, demonized.
On a constructive Rabin Day, Israelis should also be warned of the efforts at deification of Rabin and the attempt to build around him a cult of personality, where his policies have been represented not as controversial and often foolish political proposals, but instead are raised to unchallengeable theological canon. A constructive Rabin Day might also address the dangers to democracy from a situation in which the entire media are self-recruited for one wing of the political spectrum. A constructive Rabin Day might point out the dangers to democracy of incidents such as Ehud Barak's getting up and screaming that those who disagree with the Left are a cancerous tumor. In a week in which a communist candidate is running for mayor of Tel Aviv, a constructive Rabin Day might be spent discussing the dangers of totalitarian ideologies.
The McCarthyism around Rabin Day reasserts itself in the Israeli media every year. This year it is being fed by hysteria over an attempt to bomb far-leftist anti-democratic Prof. Zeev Sternhell, an attack attributed by the Israeli media with no evidence whatsoever to the political Right and to "settlers." The media continue to demonize daily the Jews who live inside the West Bank as violent criminals.
One component of the Big Lie invented by Israel's McCarthyist Left is that the political Right consists of people who are congenitally lawless and violent. No one denies that there have been a handful of violent criminals to emerge from the Right, people universally repudiated by the leaders and thinkers in the Right. Yigal Amir may be the worst.
But let us not forget the long long long history of crime and violence by the Left. Leftist hooligans clash violently with police and soldiers in the West Bank every day, trying to sabotage the security fence so that the terrorists can get in more easily. The Left produced the spies and the traitors, including Mordecai Vanunu, Azmi Bishara, Tali Fahima, Marcus Klingberg, and including the ring of espionage and terror operated by kibbutznik Udi Adiv (today a lecturer in political science at the Open University) in the 1970s. Those with long memories will remember the earlier campaigns of leftist violence against the Right in the 1940s, the "season," the sinking of the Altalena, the betraying of members of the Edsel to the British by the Left, the gangs of street thugs operated by Ben Gurion to beat opponents, etc.
A constructive Rabin Day, devoted to stopping political violence and promoting open political debate, would mention not only Yigal Amir and the clown who threw a grenade at a Peace Now demonstration in 1983, killing protester Emil Grunzweig, but also Vanunu and Adiv and the others.
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