Just three months before the 20th anniversary of the nationally traumatic assassination of then-Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, a new book about the murder has been published – once again opening the painful debate about what really happened in Tel Aviv on the night of November 4, 1995.
The new book, so far only in Hebrew, is called "Yitzhak." It was written by Dvir Kariv, the first person to talk with Yigal Amir after his arrest for the murder of Rabin.
Kariv worked for the Israel Security Agency (ISA or Shabak) for 22 years in the curiously – some would say ominously- named "Intelligence Department for the Protection of the Israeli Democracy."
Among the questions he raises in his book are: Did the Shabak anticipate the murder? Was there an intelligence failure? How does a civil servant relate on a personal level to a national calamity? How did Amir behave under interrogation? What is the Intelligence Department for the Protection of the Israeli Democracy and what are its challenges?
Kariv relates that he asked Amir, on the night of the murder, if he had been scared. "I was surprised," Kariv writes, "to hear him say, 'Yes, I was very much afraid.' He was then silent for a few seconds, and added in a cynical tone, 'I was very much afraid that I would not succeed!' – and he laughed. Who could believe that he would laugh? I said, 'You didn't understand my question. Weren't you afraid to die?' 'It doesn't matter if I live or die! The only difference is 40 years of study in jail – compared to the difference between success and failure, between a national catastrophe and the salvation of the Nation of Israel.'"
It will be recalled that Rabin had signed the Oslo Accords with Yasser Arafat two years earlier, and was proceeding apace with their implementation. The issue caused a tremendous fissure in Israeli society, between the "peace camp" on the one hand, and those who saw it as increasing terrorism and bringing about the historic loss of Judea and Samaria.
Rabin himself was said to have been having major second thoughts about the process in the weeks before his death. Exactly a month before, he addressed the Knesset and listed these principles from which he would not retreat:
- No Palestinian state and no return to the 1949 Armistice lines
- A united Jerusalem, including both Ma'ale Adumim and Givat Ze'ev, as the capital of Israel under Israeli sovereignty
- Retention of the Jordan Valley for security purposes
- The establishment of blocs of settlements in Judea and Samaria, "like the one in Gush Katif"
- The retention of every single Jewish settlement in Judea and Samaria during the interim period.
Even before its official publication, the new book already has its opponents. They ask why it waited 20 years before being published, and intimate that it is simply an official Shabak version of the events, which may or may not be true. Regarding the assassination itself, the following questions have been raised:
* What exactly happened in the car that took Rabin to the hospital? The ride took nearly 20 minutes, although it generally takes 2-5 minutes.
* Why do the original medical records show that Rabin was killed by a bullet to his chest, when Amir was widely seen on film to have shot from the back? Why were the medical records later modified?
* Who yelled out during the assassination that the bullets were fake, and why?
* Eyewitness Miriam Oren was seen on television, just minutes after the shooting, exclaiming repeatedly that she had seen clearly that Rabin had not been hurt. Why did she later change her story?
The subtitle of the new book is: "Rabin's Murder: The Story that Has Not Been Told." Many believe that, in fact, the real untold story of the murder will yet have to wait many more years, if at all, before seeing the light of day.