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HaAretz Editorial - Friday, November 5, 1999
An assassination, not a conspiracy

Four years have passed since the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and, as has happened every year since, questions are once more being raised concerning the murder that are leading the public to stray from the main issues involved. Again we are hearing people hint that the Shin Bet internal security service was responsible for Rabin's death, not because it failed to effectively protect the prime minister but because it employed an undercover agent, Avishai Raviv, who encouraged Yigal Amir to carry out the assassination. There are even those who are going so far as to accuse elements in the Shin Bet itself of having planned the assassination.

This past week, MK Michael Eitan (Likud) distributed a document that records the minutes of a meeting that was held in the offices of the state prosecution and whose participants considered whether or not to put Raviv on trial. Eitan regards the attempt to prevent Raviv's indictment as an expression of support for his controversial activities or as an effort to conceal a major, tragic blunder. If the document were fully publicized in the media, everyone would be able to see that it contains nothing that could reinforce the suspicions of rightwing elements. It is regrettable that the High Court of Justice has banned the document's publication and has therefore inadvertently opened up a Pandora's box of superfluous, malicious accusations.

What was known to the Shamgar commission and to the general public about the Rabin assassination remains in effect. The state prosecution and the Shin Bet opposed Raviv's indictment not because they wanted to cover up his actions but because they believed that undercover agents working for the Shin Bet should be given full support so that it would be possible to recruit such agents in the future as well. Questions such as whether Raviv stopped playing the role of undercover agent and instead became an agent provocateur or whether the Shin Bet should perhaps have severed ties with him at an earlier stage smack of hindsight. At any rate, now that it has been decided that Raviv should stand trial, it is pointless to hurl wild accusations at innocent parties. Whatever has remained a mystery in this whole affair will come to light in the course of the trial.

The abhorrent conspiracy theory - according to which elements close to the prime minister or inside the Shin Bet were accomplices to, or even planned, the assassination - was carefully studied by the Shamgar commission, which rejected that theory out of hand. If that theory had even one grain of truth, Amir would no doubt have used it in his defense and would not have volunteered to serve a life sentence for someone else's crime. The Rabin family has raised questions for which no clearcut answers have been provided, but that does not mean that the commission's conclusions should be altered.

Justice Shamgar stated yesterday that he himself would like to know who screamed, at the time that the shots were fired, "They're blanks, only blanks!" Although the commission heard many witnesses on this point, it was unable to come up with any answers. Amir denies that it was he who screamed out "They're blanks, only blanks!" in order to confuse Rabin's bodyguards. However, it is quite possible that Amir is lying. The dread responsibility for the assassination remains on the shoulders of the person who pulled the trigger. The rabbis who ruled that, from the standpoint of Jewish law, Rabin could be considered a persecutor and therefore subject to a death sentence, were not charged with criminal responsibility. Nor was this charge directed against the entire ideological camp that declared with such disgusting nonchalance that anyone who surrenders even a part of the ancient Jewish homeland is a traitor.

During the period of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories, this camp assigned top priority to the "redemption of the Land of Israel" and to that land's sanctification and regarded those two values as taking precedence over both the concept of the sacredness of human life and the principles of democracy.

Amir fired the fatal shots that killed Yitzhak Rabin in order to put an end to the peace process and almost succeeded in attaining that goal. Let us hope that no one will ever decide to follow in Amir's footsteps.

© copyright 1999 Ha'aretz. All Rights Reserved

Schalom, Hawer.
haGalil 05-11-99



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