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The Cross of Bethlehem

The Cross of Bethlehem II

Israel Prepares Next Political Murder

Hagai Amir, brother and accomplice of Rabin's assassin, released from prison



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On May 4, 2012, Hagai Amir, brother and accomplice of former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin’s assassin, was released from prison after being held for 16 and half years in solitary confinement. Yuval Diskin—former head of the Shin Beth—said days before that, on April 28, at a public event, that he believed another political assassination, like that of Yitzhak Rabin in 1995 by a Jewish extremist, could occur in the future. “Today there are extremist Jews, not just in the territories but also inside the Green Line, dozens of them who, in a situation in which settlements are evacuated… would be willing to take up arms against their Jewish brothers.” There is no soft way of saying this: the Shin Beth—Diskin’s former fiefdom—is responsible for the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin. The release of Amir just before the upcoming elections (see Netanyahu's Night of the Long Knives) may be a strong signal that the Shin Beth is preparing another political assassination in Israel. Could this happen again? Who are the most probable candidates?

Yuval Diskin

Yuval Diskin


Bubbling Champagne Celebrates a Murder


Hagai Amir – Out of Prison

Hagai Amir
Out of Prison

Eight years and twenty-five days before I was shot at by an Israeli agent, I was half-listening to “Reshet Bet,” the Israeli government’s news radio station. They were broadcasting live from a peace rally on Tel Aviv’s main square. At around 9:30 PM, a slight change in the tone and semantics used by the anchors hinted that something had happened. There were unclear shouts in the background; panic filtered into the anchors’ voices, while they were trying to buy time and understand what was happening. Death was in the air. Three gunshots had shattered a dream. Rabin—Israel’s Prime Minister—had been assassinated by a religious Jew, and a promising peace process had died (excerpt from The Cross of Bethlehem). The event had been videotaped by Roni Kempler—a man with unclear but published connections with the Shin Beth—who was standing on the “Gan Hair” shopping mall roof. Inexplicably, he was allowed to stand within the sterile security area surrounding Rabin’s exit point. In the minutes before the killing, his video focused mainly on the assassin, as if he knew what was about to happen. In the video, the Shin Beth rear bodyguard was seen clearing the way to the assassin, who shot three bullets before he was restrained by the police. Later, the video was purchased by “Channel 2”—allegedly for a million dollars—and then broadcast to the astonished public, before being banished from the Israeli media. Rabin was allegedly the best secured head of state in the world. The thought that a civilian could enter the “sterile area” surrounding Rabin was unbelievable.

Later, it became known that the assassin, Yigal Amir, was targeted by the Shin Beth months before that and that the Shin Beth trained him in the use of arms. Avishai Raviv, a Shin Beth employee, was placed next to him. They claimed he was only an information gathering agent. Yigal Amir, a former Yeshiva student studying at the religious Bar Ilan University, killed Prime Minister Rabin with the blessing of his Pharisaic rabbi. He moved from one rabbi to another until he found one who agreed that the killing would save many Jewish lives; and thus—the religious authority claimed—it was justified. Raviv knew that and reported Yigal Amir's plan to assassinate Yitzhak Rabin, based on “din rodef,” law of the pursuer, which rabbis interpret as allowing the killing of another Jew to prevent him from handing Jewish land over to non-Jews. Despite that, the Shin Beth did not stop Amir. The most troubling part of this story is that “The Jerusalem Post,” an English, right-wing newspaper published in Jerusalem, reported witnesses having heard Raviv telling Amir: “Be a man! Kill him already!” Later on, Raviv’s name came out during Amir’s trial. It was published that his operational code was “Champagne.” Nothing seems more appropriate for an agitating agent, which is a better definition to the role he performed.

Hagai Amir – Welcomed by Fans

Hagai Amir
Welcomed by Fans

Yigal Amir – Assassin

Yigal Amir

For the next several months I kept listening day and night to the incredible news broadcast on the radio. The more I listened, the more terrified I became. A few months after the event, Professor Michael Harsegor, a well-respected historian at Tel Aviv University, openly claimed over the military radio station—a very popular one in Israel—that Shin Beth was behind the assassination. It was their reaction to Rabin’s decision to pursue a peace agreement with the Palestinians that led to his murder. Needless to say, the official investigation didn’t advance beyond the point of rumor and speculation. Shin Beth’s working methods were never seriously questioned. However, the video was incriminating. Why did Rabin’s bodyguards expose his back at a critical moment? How was Amir allowed to stand for a long period of time next to a policeman within the sterile area? These questions were never properly answered.

The Shin Beth didn’t deny its use of infiltrating agents within the Jewish population previous to Rabin’s assassination. It was a shocking revelation. We were under surveillance and the objects of evil manipulations by the state. The government considered us its real enemy. From that moment on, every friend and neighbor became a potential informant, any innocent talk a possible entrapment attempt. Even if only half of what was being alleged was true, the situation was serious. There was no denial of Shin Beth’s tactics. On the contrary, several analysts, closely related to the security services, openly proclaimed in the Israeli main newspapers that the disclosure of “Champagne” had caused irreversible damage to Shin Beth’s operational capabilities. During his trial, Mr. Raviv claimed he was just doing his job under very difficult conditions. Eventually the court accepted this unacceptable line of defense. Carmi Gilon, the Shin Beth head during the period before and after the Rabin’s assassination, never faced justice for his role in the assassination. That means the state supports him. Israeli citizens were never questioned regarding the positioning of illegal underground state agents and provocateurs among them. We see here a pattern of disrespect toward the alleged democratic foundations of the State of Israel. I pointed out in the past regarding the consequences of a lack of constitution for Israel, here we see that result again: the actual government systematically breaks any legal principle, and thus has become illegitimate even to its own citizens.

Yitzhak Rabin

Yitzhak Rabin | with Yasser Arafat and Bill Clinton

During the trials that followed the assassinations, it emerged that the assassin—Yigal Amir—his brother—Hagai—and his friend Dror Adani conspired to commit the murder, exploring several possible ways to do it and conducting surveillance around Rabin's home. On the night of November 4, 1995, Yigal Amir waited for Rabin to leave a peace rally in Tel Aviv's Kings of Israel Square (since renamed Rabin Square), and shot him in the back while being filmed by Roni Kempler. Later on, on April 27, 2006, Hagai Amir was convicted again for threatening from prison to have then-Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon killed. He was sentenced to a year in prison, to which half a year was added to his prison term for his involvement in Rabin’s assassination.


Lucky Shin Beth!


Rabin was assassinated for advancing the peace process with the Palestinians; the Shin Beth traditionally opposes the process, since it profits from ongoing war. This wasn’t an isolated event. A decade after that, Ariel Sharon attempted to end what Rabin had began. Sharon has since then been in a vegetative state after the ambulance—not helicopter—taking him to hospital following a stroke, got stuck in Jerusalem’s rush hour, and after being administered a wrong medicine for someone in his condition. Fortunate incidents for the Shin Beth.

Then, less than a year ago, Benjamin Netanyahu got a public warning. In October 2011, the 25-year-old Daphni Leef, who initiated the Tel Aviv tent city that launched a nation-wide protest movement, urged the public to once again flood Israel’s streets to show their discontent with the government. Leef accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of “using the nation as a springboard” and “living at our expense.” “The time has come for you to admit your mistakes and understand that your time is running out,” she said. This is an obvious threat; in Netanyahu’s Epitaph I analyzed Daphni Leef's apparent relations with the Shin Beth. As of May 2012, Netanyahu is still capable of shaving himself; he is an unlikely candidate for a Shin Beth assassination.


“It wasn’t me, I just handed the weapon to the assassin”


Who is next on the Shin Beth’s political assassinations list? The release of Amir before the elections has a bubbling champagne effect; following Hagai’s release, Noam Federman—a well-known right activist—said: “Rabin caused the deaths of thousands of Jews. I do not support murder, but even today, I’m not shedding any tears for him [Rabin]. We will greet him [Hagai] warmly, and throw him a party.” In other words, the institutionally driven violence is being indirectly legitimized. This asks for similar events in the future. Yet, Netanyahu is firmly pro-war. As analyzed in several articles in the past, his political future depends on his capability to stage a war, probably against Iran, since he is unable to solve Israel’s social problems. Thus, Netanyahu is a good candidate for the war-thirsty Shin Beth. He will be spared.

However, despite his comfortable lead in the polls, Netanyahu may lose the elections, especially if a dramatic event takes place before. Some time ago, Shaul Mofaz replaced Tzipi Livni as the leader of Kadima (see Upheaval in Ariel Sharon’s Party). As of now, Livni quit the Knesset, and Mofaz admitted his party is not ready for the upcoming elections. Born in Iran, Mofaz is a former IDF Chief of Staff. He is unlikely to sanction a wild Israeli attack on Iran for the sake of internal politics. As of now he is just third in the polls, with a mere 6% of the vote. Yet, this may change quickly; he is considered level-headed and responsible. Despite these characteristics being unappealing to most Israelis, he may become the favorite candidate if Netanyahu commits a disaster in his internal policies. Israel never saw Jewish mass-protests until this term of Netanyahu’s rule; people resent his social insensibility. If Tnuva—Israel’s main dairy—raises again the price of its cottage cheese, Netanyahu may find himself banned. Mofaz will then rise rapidly; Labor leader Shelly Yacimovich has little chance of conquering Israel’s political summit despite her occupying the second placeright now; Israelis prefer generals.

If that happens, Shaul Mofaz would be first on the Shin Beth elimination list. Until then, a free Hagai Amir will continue to prepare the Israeli public opinion for another political assassination, for the eternal glory of his Shin Beth masters.

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