Yitzhak Rabin
Shalom, Haver
"Rabin is a traitor!" - Right-wing extremist rallies

Followers of extremist American rabbi Meir Kahane

THE RISE OF THE EXTREMISTS - August of 1993 was a year marking an irrevocable change in the path of Israeli history. Among the Israeli public, who had been unawares up to this point of the exhaustive negotiations and landmark Oslo agreements, it was a staggering revelation. To many secular Israelis, it was a promising step in the right direction; to many Orthodox Jews and conservative settlers, the Oslo negotiations were a complete betrayal of the Jewish state and the very ideals of Zionism. For them, the obvious next step was that Rabin himself was guilty. Amongst the radical elements of Jewish society, a fierce opposition to the very idea of peace began to flourish amongst extreme-nationalist settlers and the religious right. Barely a month after the August announcement of Oslo, a rally in Jerusalem featured the vitriolic chant, “Rabin is a traitor.” It was only the first of many.
Already a blunt and notoriously pragmatic leader, Rabin viewed the extremism of the religious right as barely an annoyance. He had been intensely secular his entire life, and could not comprehend the fervor with which the radicals opposed any peace or land concessions to the Palestinians. Meanwhile, nationalist settlers and Palestinian civilians began clashing with increasing frequency and ferocity, culminating in the murder of 29 Arab worshippers by Israeli extremist Baruch Goldstein in February 1994. The settlers were further angered by Rabin’s orders for settlements to pull out from Palestinian land around Gaza. His legendary bluntness – “If that’s a settlement, I’m a ball bearing” – did not help matters. By late 1995, right-wing Zionist rabbis began urging settlers to resist the Israeli soldiers sent to evict them, by force if necessary. When the Israeli Knesset met in October to debate ratification of the Oslo II accords, extremist crowds called Rabin “traitor”, with a Likud politician named Ariel Sharon claiming that Rabin had “collaborated with a terrorist organization.” The vehement hatred of the peace process gradually shifted to personal hatred of the prime minister. Yitzhak Rabin, a man who had personally fought in the battles of Israel’s birth, a man who had done more than anyone to bring Israel closer to peace and acceptance from its neighbors, was portrayed wearing a Nazi SS uniform on leaflets distributed by Israeli followers of the extremist American rabbi Meir Kahane.
Under his aloof exterior, Rabin’s family members saw his genuine pain at the gaping political divide he had formed in Israeli society. Peace supporters, silent so far, had to make a response of equal conviction and passion. Unbeknownst to them, the voice of peace would come to form a deafening roar against the extremists’ shrill protests.


Yitzhak Rabin