Murder in the Name of God
The Plot to Kill Yitzhak Rabin
by Michael Karpin and Ina Friedman
New York: Metropolitan Books, 1998. 292 pp. $24.95.
Reviewed by Efraim Karsh
King's College London
Middle East Quarterly
The authors argue in their captivating book that the 1995 assassination of Yitzhak Rabin, Israel's prime minister, was not the act of a lone zealot but an outgrowth of the alarming phenomenon of religious-nationalist messianism which has been widening since 1967. Although this commonsensical thesis is not novel (nor do the authors present fresh data), they have produced a comprehensive and balanced account of some of the more disturbing aspects of this religious fundamentalism, such as rabbinical rulings sanctifying Rabin's killing and calls by certain rabbis to soldiers to disobey orders to withdraw from Judea and Samaria.
They are far less convincing, however, in claiming a direct link between the vociferous anti-Rabin campaign preceding the shooting and the assassination itself. Vociferous exchanges have characterized Israeli political culture from the start; the authors quote Rabin himself observing that public opposition to the 1982 Lebanon war had far exceeded the dissent that over the Oslo agreement. Moreover, the assassin admitted his intention to kill Rabin two years prior to the event, or well before the anti-Rabin campaign had reared its ugly head.
Another weakness concerns a glaring neglect of Palestinians, as if the Israeli debate took place in a vacuum. The authors not only ignore the inextricable link between the wave of Palestinian suicide bombings and the escalation of the anti-Oslo rhetoric, but they altogether miss its rationale when they ascribe the terrorist campaign as an attempt "to avenge [Baruch] Goldstein's massacre in Hebron." In fact, it resulted from a sustained effort by Hamas and Islamic Jihad to derail the Oslo process so they could attain their ultimate goal: an Islamic-Palestinian state on Israel's ruins.
Related Topics: Israel | Efraim Karsh | September 1999 MEQ
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