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Yitzhak Rabin, the soldier turned statesman and eventually the fifth Prime Minister of Israel, was assassinated by Yigal Amir, a student and a right-wing radical, on November 4, 1995. Being the first Prime Minister to ever been assassinated and the second to die while in office, many controversies and opinions are circulating within people’s minds as to the reasons behind his death. The best way to observe the reaction of people towards the leader and his demise can be seen through the public mediums and the articles which were written before and after the sordid affair.
The opinions differ across borders but for this research, we will concentrate on Western publications (namely the United States newspapers) and the Israeli perspective. The report’s thesis statement would be to gauge the diversity in the portrayal of the assassination by different groups of people, namely the American and the Israeli journalists. The paper will answer this question by quoting articles from different sources and prove that there were many different angles with which to view the assassination.
The results of the demise of Rabin
The assassination initially led to an outrage in the Israeli nation but the key facet to observe here is the apparent lack of involvement with Rabin as a leader. In different sources, we can observe that though Rabin had an immense following as a symbol, people did not relate to him as a figure that could have brought about peace. The sudden demise of Rabin led to the chasm between the budding peace process which itself had created a rift between the Israeli nation. Many journalists have stated in the Jerusalem Post about the assassination further creating a divide between the “leftist” and the “rightest” parties within the state.
The common belief regarding the assassination is of some higher powers being involved to derail any progress which might have been created for peace and some even point towards conspiracies as far-ranging as the existence of a New World Order and Barry Chamish, an Israeli author of books such as “Who killed Yitzhak Rabin?” and “The Last Days of Israel”, directing doubts towards the West and their vested interests in this region.
Even though political experts refrain from addressing the incident of the assassination, various segments of the Israeli community have reacted actively concerning the incident. An article in the Jerusalem Post regarding this subject gives a good sense of how the common people reacted to the incident and how they view the assassination.
The article titled “New book and exhibition deal with art and the Rabin assassination” which was written by Talya Halkin, discussed how after the assassination, even though the political circles did a hush up job erasing the effects of the assassination from people’s minds by practically ignoring such an event had ever occurred, the artists in Israel has taken a more proactive approach to highlighting the cultural impact of the assassination. As stated by the author, where politicians haven’t shown any signs of relating to the assassination, artists have more successfully captured the essence of the time (Halkin 2005).
The search for articles relating to the assassination however is very limited from the Jewish perspective. There are few articles written on the topic (while those articles which do talk about the incident are all within one week of the Rabin assassination commemoration) and fewer available references which give some evidence to the statements about the Rabin assassination trying to be quelled.
When observing the American perspective of the assassination, one encounters numerous articles during the time of Rabin’s assassination. The infatuation of the West with the Rabin incident was that to them, Rabin appeared as a messiah who could have stopped the hostilities between the Arab states and Israel. The assassination of Rabin at the Peace Rally shook the Western world, with the United States being the most shocked as President Bill Clinton was choreographing a peace solution with Yasser Arafat and Rabin.
The western portrayal of Rabin was as a martyr for the greater good and emotional statements were used to address the character of Rabin. Excerpts from the New York Times can be seen as stating: “Speaking as much to his people as to the astonishing world that was watching, Mr. Rabin explained in mournful tones how painful and how necessary it was for Israel to take this step”.
The American opinion regarding the assassination sees the act as a global loss as compared to the Israeli sources which saw the act as strictly on a national level. The reports by Israeli correspondents discussed Rabin’s role to the extent of the national level. However, the articles published in the United States do not limit Rabin’s influence in the world’s politics to the Israeli nation but are extravagant in their praise of the leader and showcase his importance to the world. The western sources also emphasize the shared Nobel Peace Prize which Rabin received, sharing it with Yasser Arafat.
The commonality between the two perspectives however is the emphasis of both towards the role of Rabin as a facilitator of peace. even though the Israeli standpoint holds some twinge of sarcasm towards the character of Rabin as being the ideal candidate for peace, as numerous Israelis questioned the Prime Ministers’ past which had more skeletons than should have been. The United States articles however refrain from digging into the past of the leader as they concentrate more towards glorifying him and envisioning him as a peaceful figure with no blemishes.
Jews living in America create a merger between these two views as they are not simply observers and are neither totally involved (like the nationals). The opinions held by these columnists and writers hold a condescending view of the whole situation as they believe that the matter was blown out of proportions resulting in the division within Israel amongst the “Right” wing and the “Left” wing. Yet similar to the homeland journalist in Israel they also refrain from putting the character of Rabin on a pedestal and look at the situation in the country as more important than the chances of talks with the Arab nations and the peace process initiated in 1993 (The Israel Democracy Institute 2005).
There are differing opinions when looking at the styles of portraying the Rabin assassination, with the Jewish portrayal in a more constrained world view with lack of sentimentalities attached whereas the United States portrayal of Rabin being the “true peacemaker”, “hero” and “martyr for peace”.
American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise. “The Assassination of Yitzhak Rabin.” Jewish Virtual Library. Web.
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Berger, Marilyn. “Assassination in Israel: Yitzhak Rabin, 73, an Israeli Soldier Turned Prime Minister and Peacemaker.” The New York Times. 1995. Web.
Chamish, Barry. “Rabin Conspiracy Theories enter the mainstream.” Israel Insider. 2002. Web.
CNN. “Rabin Assassinated at Peace Rally.” CNN. 1994. Web.
—. “The Assassination and Funeral of Yitzhak Rabin.” CNN. 1995. Web.
Dougherty, Jill. Rabin seen as a “great hero”. 1995. Web.
Halkin, Talya. “New Book and Exhibition deal with art and the Rabin Assassination.” The Jerusalem Post. 2005. Web.
Reuters. “Israelis Remember Rabin.” The New York Times. 2005. Web.
Rosenblum, Jonathan. “Think Again: The beatification of Yitzhak Rabin.” The Jerusalem Post. 2005. Web.
The Israel Democracy Institute. “Lesson of Rabin’s Death: Protest, Yes; Violence, No.” The Miami Herald on. 2005. Web.
The New York Times. Yitzhak Rabin News. Web.