Uri Avnery's November 12 article on Rabin anniversary - reprinted with the express permission of Uri Avnery
"YOU are Fed Up?"
“YOU CAN lie to all of the people some of the time, and to some of the people all of the time, but you cannot lie to all of the people all of the time.”
This slightly altered quotation from Abraham Lincoln has yet to be absorbed by Binyamin Netanyahu. He thinks it doesn't apply to him. Actually, that is the core of his entire political career.
This week, he was given a very instructive lesson. After being treated to dozens of cordial encounters between Netanyahu and Nicholas Sarkozy, Israeli TV viewers got a glimpse of reality. It came in the form of an exchange of views between the presidents of the US and of France.
Sarkozy: “I cannot stand him (Netanyahu). He is a liar!”
Obama: "YOU are fed up with him? I have to deal with him every day!"
That came after it was leaked that Angela Merkel, the German prime minister, told her cabinet that “every word that leaves Netanyahu’s mouth is a lie.”
Which makes it more or less unanimous.
BEFORE PROCEEDING, I must say something about the media angle of this affair.
The dialogue was broadcast live to a group of senior French media people, because somebody forgot to turn the microphone off. A piece of luck of the kind that journalists dream about.
Yet not one of the journalists in the hall published a word about it. They kept it to themselves and only told it to their colleagues, who told it to their friends, one of whom told it to a blogger, who published it.
Why? Because the senior journalists who were present are friends and confidants of the people in power. That’s how they get their scoops. The price is suppressing any news that might hurt or embarrass their sponsors. This means in practice that they become lackeys of the people in power – betraying their elementary democratic duty as servants of the public.
I know this from experience. As an editor of a news magazine, I saw it as my duty (and pleasure) to break these conspiracies of silence. Actually, many of our best scoops were given to us by colleagues from other publications who could not use them themselves for the same reason.
Luckily, with the internet now everywhere, it has become almost impossible to suppress news. Blessed be the online Gods.
A FEW weeks after Yitzhak Rabin was elected Prime Minister (for the second time) in 1992, I met Yasser Arafat in Tunis.
He was, of course, curious about the personality of the newly elected Israeli leader. Knowing that I was meeting him from time to time, he asked what I thought of him.
“He is an honest man,” I replied, and then added: “as much as a politician can be.”
Arafat burst out laughing, and so did everybody in the room, including Mahmoud Abbas and Yasser Abed Rabbo.
Ever since Sir Henry Wotton said, some four centuries ago, that “an ambassador is an honest man sent to lie abroad for the good of his country,” it is generally assumed that diplomats and politicians may be lying, and not only abroad. Some do so only when necessary, some do it often, some, like Netanyahu, do it as a rule.
In spite of the general assumption of mendacity, it is not good for a leader to be branded as a habitual liar. When leaders meet personally, in private and face to face, they are supposed to tell each other the truth, even if not necessarily the whole truth. Some personal trust is of great advantage. If a leader loses it, he loses a precious asset.
Winston Churchill said of one of his predecessors, Stanley Baldwin, that (quoting from memory) “the Right Honorable Gentleman sometimes stumbles upon the truth, but he always hurries on as if nothing has happened.” One of our ministers said about Ariel Sharon that he sometimes tells the truth by mistake. People asked how you could tell when Richard Nixon was lying: “Easy: his lips are moving”.
Rabin was basically an honest man. He hated lying and avoided it as much as he could. Basically he remained a military man and never became a real politician.
LAST WEDNESDAY was the 16th anniversary of his assassination, according to the Hebrew calendar.
The event was marked in Israeli schools by speeches and special lessons. What these citizens of tomorrow learned was that it is very bad to murder a prime minister. And that, more or less, was that.
Not a word about why he was killed. Certainly nothing about the community the assassin belonged to, or what campaign of hatred and incitement led to the murder.
The Ministry of Education is now firmly in the hands of a Likud minister, and one of the most extreme. But the trend is not confined to the education system.
In Israel it is practically impossible to obtain a picture of Rabin shaking the hand of Arafat. Rabin and King Hussein? As many post cards as you might wish. But Rabin’s peace with Jordan was an unimportant matter, like the US peace with Canada. The Oslo agreement, however, was a historic watershed.
Only people branded as “extreme leftists” – one of the worst insults these days – dare to raise the obvious questions about the assassination: Who? Why?
There is tacit agreement that the only person responsible was the actual assassin: Yigal Amir, the son of Yemenite Jews, a former settler and a student of a religious university.
Would he have acted without the blessing of one or more rabbis? Most certainly not.
Amir was led to do what he did by months of intense incitement. An unprecedented campaign of hatred dominated the public sphere. Posters showed Rabin in the uniform of an SS officer. Religious groups publicly condemned him to death in medieval ceremonies. Demonstrators in front of his private home shouted: “With blood and fire / we shall remove Rabin!”
In the most (in)famous demonstration, in the center of Jerusalem, a coffin marked “Rabin” was paraded around, while Netanyahu looked on from a balcony, in the company of other rightist leaders.
And most tellingly: not a single important right-wing or religious voice was raised against this murderous campaign.
By general tacit agreement, nothing of all this was mentioned this week. Why? Because it would not be nice. It would “split the nation”. Honorable citizens do not do this kind of thing.
Rabin himself cannot be acquitted of all blame. After the incredibly courageous act of recognizing the PLO (and thereby the Palestinian people) and shaking hands with Arafat, he did not rush forward to create an irreversible historic fact of peace, but hesitated, dithered, held back and allowed the forces of war and racism to regroup and counter-attack.
When the Kiryat Arba settler Baruch Goldstein carried out his massacre in the “Cave of Machpela”, Rabin had a golden opportunity to clear out the nest of fascist settlers in Hebron. He shrank back from taking on the settlers. The settlers did not shrink back from killing him.
WHAT HAPPENED next? This week a very revealing document was leaked.
It appears that on the day of the assassination, Netanyahu spoke with the American ambassador (and Zionist Jew) Martin Indyk. Netanyahu, remembering his part in the incitement, was obviously in panic. He confided to the ambassador that if elections were to take place immediately, the entire Israeli right-wing would be wiped out.
But Shimon Peres, the new Prime Minister, did not call immediate elections, though several people (including myself) publicly urged him to do so. Netanyahu’s assessment was quite correct – the country was outraged, the right-wing was generally blamed for the assassination, and if elections had taken place, the Right would have been marginalized for many many years. The entire history of Israel would have taken a different turn.
Why did Peres refuse to do so? Because he hated Rabin. He did not want to be elected as the “executor of Rabin’s testament”, but on his own merits. Unfortunately, the public did not have the same high opinion of these “merits”.
During the next few months, Peres committed every conceivable (and inconceivable) mistake: he approved the killing of a major Hamas militant which led to a flood of deadly suicide bombings all over the country. He attacked Lebanon, which led to the Kafr Kana massacre, and had to withdraw ignominiously. And then he called premature elections after all. In his election campaign, Rabin was not even mentioned. Thus Peres managed to be (narrowly) defeated by Netanyahu.
I once wrote that Peres suffered his most grievous insult just a few minutes before the assassination. Amir was waiting at the foot of the stairs from the tribune, his pistol ready. Peres came down the steps, and the assassin let him pass, like a fisherman contemptuously throwing a small specimen back into the sea. He was waiting for Rabin.
The rest is history.
If the schools are not teaching the circumstances behind the assassination of Rabin, then Avnery is to be doubly commended for taking on the task of remembering and reminding.
I always find it puzzling the way certail people tell certain stories. When there were dozens of suicide attacks in Israel, the lft was clear to point out the the Palestinain people as a whole still wanted peace and this was just a fringe group of individual. When one, yes one, person commits a crime on the right, all of the sudden the whole write is to blame.
Uri also tends to leave out the fact that Rabin approval rating at the time was dismal and people were fed up with busses blowing up week after wee. It is commently said by the left "you killed then you inherited", what they dont realize is that there were fair democratic elections that brought the right back into power.
Rabins murder will forever be a scar on teh Jewish people and words like Nazi or facist should never be used against a government official, including those who now say that about the current prime minister. Student shoul all learn about how horrible it is to hate and we must all live together and accept diffrences, especially when one side looses an election, this goes for left and right alike. What should not be taught in school is the "Rabin legacy". This is hightly controversial and has resulted in the loss of thousands of civillian lives, better children learn history and decide for themself if Rabin was on the correct side of history or not with his policies, irrespecive of his tragic passing.
Thank you again to the eloquent and compassionate Uri Avnery.
Jeff - If you want to talk crimes - Goldstein - was just one manifestation of promoting nationalistic ideologies preferencing one category of human beings over another. At the very time Goldstein committed his crime, the State of Israel was continuing to (and continues to) maintain an occupation of another people. The International Court of Justice has stated "The Security Council has taken the view that such policy and practices “have no legal validity” and constitute a “flagrant violation” of the Convention. The Court concludes that the Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (including East Jerusalem) have been established in breach of international law."
International Court of Justice
The Court notes that the route of the wall as fixed by the Israeli Government includes within the “Closed Area” (i.e. the part of the West Bank lying between the Green Line and the wall) some 80 per cent of the settlers living in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, and has been traced in such a way as to include within that area the great majority of the Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (including East Jerusalem). The information provided to the Court shows that, since 1977, Israel has conducted a policy and developed practices involving the establishment of settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, contrary to the terms of Article49, paragraph 6, of the Fourth Geneva Convention which provides: “The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.” The Security Council has taken the view that such policy and practices “have no legal validity” and constitute a “flagrant violation” of the Convention. The Court concludes that the Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (including East Jerusalem) have been established in breach of international law.
Whilst taking note of the assurance given by Israel that the construction of the wall does not amount to annexation and that the wall is of a temporary nature, the Court nevertheless considers that the construction of the wall and its associated régime create a “fait accompli” on the ground that could well become permanent, in which case, and notwithstanding the formal characterization of the wall by Israel, it would be tantamount to de facto annexation.
The Court considers moreover that the route chosen for the wall gives expression in loco to the illegal measures taken by Israel with regard to Jerusalem and the settlements, as deplored by the Security Council. There is also a risk of further alterations to the demographic composition of the Occupied Palestinian Territory resulting from the construction of the wall inasmuch as it is contributing to the departure of Palestinian populations from certain areas. That construction, along with measures taken previously, thus severely impedes the exercise by the Palestinian people of its right to self-determination, and is therefore a breach of Israel’s obligation to respect that right.
Stewart - Goldstein commited a war crime? Goldstein was a terrorist, he does not in anyway represent the State of Israel but is an exception to the rule. The Israeli people not only reject what he has done overwhellmingly in every poll taken but teh party he was associated was disband and not allowed to run in teh Kenesset.
Arab terrorist, are more like a dime a dozen. The fact that you know the name of the Jew is not surprising, there was only one who commited acts as horrific in the nature while not only are theer dozens of Palestinans who ahve attempted mass murder of Jews they were backed by their local authorities to an extent and have overwhellming support in their communities.
The international court has no power, no jurisdiction and is not binding. Like all other UN orginization it is extrely politizied and irrelevant. Lets not firget that there was never a Palestinian state EVER to be occupied. This is not a legal ruling as much a s a political opinion and has really no standing.... Should be talk about the commision on human rights - include Pakastan, China, Cuba, Sudan.... If you need to go to the UN proclomations and rulings, it just shows how thin the ice of your argument is on...
There have been many massacres committed by Zionists. Here are a few examples: King David Hotel, the Semiramis Hotel, Deir Yassin, Dawayma, Kibya, Kafr Kassim, the attacks on the USS Liberty and the Libyan Boeing 727 Airliner, and the massacres against Sabra and Shatila and other refugee camps in Lebanon.
If these massacres had occurred in WW2, those responsible would have received hefty sentences. Instead, some of the killers became Prime Ministers of Israel.
There are hardly any democratic countries with a record like this.
lets start with your usual statements taht do not contain anounce of truth, made up, if you will:
"There are hardly any democratic countries with a record like this." - How many million of civillains were killed by the allies in WW2? How many by the coalitionin Iraq, in Libya.. people and even civillians die in war, its horrible but it happens. I would say compared to most demoracies Israel has an excellebt record.
Now, if you look at the topic and what I was commenting on, it has nothing to do with what you posted, best you stick to the topic. We were talking about Rabin's Legacy and the ability to blame a whole group for the actions of one.
Feel free to comment on this... If you want to talk about King david Hotel bombing I would also mention the warnings they sent of that it was teh miliray headquaters of teh British army. If you want to talk about acts commited by the IrgunI would also talk about Altalena. Perhaps mention that it was the Phalang that killed Palestinains at Sabre and Shitila. The USS Liberty, which was an accident.... but I dont want to go there...
Are you aware that in the Iran-Iraq war children were sent by both sides to clear mines with only a headband and the Koran. Willful killing of children by two Muslim countries fighting a religious war, Massacres, yes, but according to you ,the Jews are responsible. The British were occupiers and Jews were being killed by your "irregulars" under Husseini and Kiqwa without British interference.This has been going on since at least the Hevron massacre. Last I checked self defense was not a crime or a stretch to call these massacres. Speak to your brethren in Lebanon about Sabra and Shatila or the occupation of South Lebanon by the Palestinians.
If you are going to say something, at least do us the courtesy of checking facts and not pure propaganda.
What there is to get fed up over, is that you are campaigning for Israel to coexists with its neighbors, so there is not the perpetual violence and killing. One side will call you an Anti-Semitic Nazi that supports the killing of the Jewish people, and the other side will say you are not supporting the Palestinian people in trying to take over all of Israel. First of all, I am trying to figure out how I am an Anti-Semitic Nazi, if I had a Jewish mother, where only her and her brother survived World War II in Romania? If you are not supporting the Palestinian people in taking over all of Israel, then what is suppose to be done to the Israelis living there? Kill of all of them? Extremism can sure make people stupid.
Tim: I am really very amused by your seemingly unprovoked outburst. Your "Jewish mother" bit is really starting to grate on my nerves as neither I nor anyone here seems to care. Only you can answer if you are a "Anti Semitic Nazi" but I do not see anyone asking.
Yes " Extremism can sure make people stupid." but first let us define what you mean by extremism and your application of that meaning.
I can see that you are bored, because no one is bothering to go into the topics you spent so much time typing out. I wonder if it because everybody sees it as a waste of time to go into. I think the bitterness turns people off.
Tim. That is the nature of the beast. Hear no evil. See no evil and Speak no evil. And if you encounter evil, than just ignore it. I guess you see support by one and opposition by two to your posts as an accomplishment.
This site has been here for at least 4 years and boast of 4000 plus members, the vast majority anti-Israel Jews and Arabs and their supporters, yet they have had no impact on the people that really count-Israelis. Currently less than the fingers of one hand posts either on my or your posts. Hardly a gauge of "people" that you so fondly relate to.
But I am digressing.
BTW. Where is Ghazi? Is he still allowd to post here? Or was he simply too truthful for this site?
Thanks Eyal for posting this,
Please let me summarize this article by using few words: you can call someone as a piece of shit another can be called as a peace hero.
Me as a peacemaker I'd rather to be with the second one. Rabin was a peacemaker in the eyes of many people allover the world & no one can change that fact, he did what he did because he believed as most of us as peacemakers do.
SALAM, SHALOM, PEACE.