Seventeen years after the murder of [late Prime Minister] Yitzak Rabin, of blessed memory, the tears have dried, and so has the conversation. Enough time has passed, and naturally, the event has passed from the dark expanses of trauma to the junkyard of history. When people discuss the murder, they no longer focus on the incitement that preceded it, nor on the actions of Rabin the man, the soldier, the leader — but rather the results and the implications that we continued to live daily. The inquiries are purposeful: What happened to us since then? Where are we going? What has the murderer done to our society?
Consensus has it that [assassin Yigal] Amir also shot the unity of the nation, both the authentic and the artificial one. It was with an eye toward that nation that the tribes once attempted to unite, around the bonfire of patriotism, despite disagreements — over who was closer to the fire and who was at its edge. But after those three shots, people no longer wanted any longer to embrace those who didn’t think like them or hold their opinions. The masks came off. It is therefore possible to honestly claim that Yigal Amir murdered “Israeliness.” Today, Israelis still most certainly exist — it’s even quite hard to miss them — but “Israeliness” is no longer. Not its old, beautiful form.
Consensus also holds that the Rabin assassination destroyed hopes for peace with the Palestinians, and diverted Israel’s political path sharply to the right. There are those who saw in the Second Intifada proof of the fact that “the Arabs are not to be trusted,” but we will never know if a final status agreement between Rabin and Arafat would have saved us from the horrors of the [suicide] attacks in the cafes and buses. What is clear is that the IDF would have easily succeeded in blocking a few thousand Palestinian police officers with small arms — even from a narrow security strip set up after the return of the [Palestinian] territories. So Amir didn’t save us from anything. Forget it.
The facts are that the disconnect today from the Palestinians is total; the focus on an agreement of some sort has ended; the settlements are being fed by budgets; the [West Bank] outpost youth don’t fear anyone; patriotism has turned into nationalism manifested in ugly law proposals and racism (against Jews and gentiles alike); moral corruption is spreading throughout the entire nation; violence is flourishing, as is poverty and ignorance; the [rule of] law has disappeared and is no more. And if you think there is no connection between our miserable existential situation and the Rabin assassination, think again — the smoking gun of the general decline is Yigal Amir’s gun.
It may be a populist accusation, but certainly not popular, because even realistic people don’t like to dump on responsibility the assassin for all the troubles that have befallen us. But try to imagine Israel without the assassin. Imagine a final status agreement, in 1999 — maybe even regional peace thanks to a compromise on the Golan in 2005. The primary premise for Syria and Iran’s hostility is taken away, and in 2006, the first Israeli travels to Europe by car.
Imagine a secular Israel, enlightened and prosperous, advanced and united, that frequently gives its citizens reasons to be proud, and lives in peace with itself and with its neighbors. All this, Yigal Amir stole from you. And what you see outside — the crudeness, the racism, the aggressiveness, the violence, what people get away with from government ranks and downward — all that is what he left for you. That is the legacy of the smiling murderer: the death of Israeliness.
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