Yitzhak Rabin was Prime Minister of Israel from 1974 until 1977 and from 1992 until his assassination in 1995. Rabin, a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, was assassinated by Yigal Amir, a right-wing Israeli radical who had strenuously opposed Rabin's signing of the Oslo Accords. As this past week marked 12 years to Rabin's assassination, the Israeli blogosphere was filled with posts recollecting his significance to Israel and his tragic ending. I stumbled upon Yossi's blog who describes his experience, 12 years ago, when he was still a Yeshiva student, part of an ultra-orthodox community in Jerusalem.
Thank you Yossi for describing your experience and sharing on your blog. It sheds light upon these walled communities, usually far behind closed doors. It also amplifies the value and necessity of enabling global information access and sharing a multitude of perspectives. This is a perspective that is rarely seen.
I was a fresh Yeshiva student at that time, and I had no idea who Rabin was.
On Saturday night (the night Rabin was murdered), like every other Saturday night a few of us stayed on studying while the rest went back home or to the dorms. When I got home from studies, there were celebrations, food and music in the dorms, very different from its usual dead state. I asked my friends what the celebration was for, if I made a mistake in the date, since in that month there were no Jewish holidays at all.
One answered – “Rabin died, he was shot!!!”
I asked – “Who is Rabin?”
He answered – “The prime minister”
I continued asking – “Is he Jewish?” (the name Rabin didn't sound Jewish)
He answered – “Yes, of course”
I asked if it is possible to be happy over the murder of a Jew? And that the bible states that you should not be happy upon the fall of your enemy (“בנפול אויבך אל תשמח”), and the Midrash states that your enemy the non-Jew, is all the more so Jewish (“אוייבך הגוי, קל וחומר יהודי”).
He replied – “Why are you disturbing our celebration? Go back to study. The Rabbis said he (Rabin) has a troubled destiny (דין רודף) and that we need to be happy!”
That answer did not satisfy me – I am not cynical nor laughing. Looking back, I don't understand why that answer looked so distorted because I was raised precisely on these values, like all my friends in the Yeshiva, in an even stricter environment. Today, this answer raises my anger profoundly. How can it be that the State of Israel finances educational institutions that teach people murder; that celebrate when the prime minister is killed??? And what about the enforcement authorities in this country, who do not prevent Rabbis from inciting and teaching what they want, claiming freedom of speech and religion. We forget that we are creating the future generation here, which might already be full of murderers like Yigal Amir. You can already find petitions for his release.
I have to mention that I am proud of my childhood as an ultra-orthodox Jew. I learned many things that secular Israelis will never learn – about myself, my abilities and what real studies are. But that which I am most angry about is the existence of this school of thought that claims – he who doesn't suit you, his blood can be spilled (“מי שלא מתאים לך דמו מותר”).
I do not understand this.