Rabin murder. Only Jews on the Right are violent — never liberal or left

As we approach the 20th anniversary of the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, and right after the attempted stabbing of Rabbi Arik Ascherman, head of Rabbis for Human Rights, by a right-wing Jewish extremist, we are reminded of the fact that practically all Jewish violence over the past many decades has come from the Right.

It has never come from liberals. And never come from the Left.

Beginning all the way back to Menachem Begin’s and Yitzhak Shamir’s Irgun and Stern Gang times.

The glorification of hate and violence in Begin’s autobiographical The Revolt could have come from Hamas or Hezbollah:

Begin wrote in his Introduction to The Revolt:

“It is axiomatic that those who fight have to hate…. And we fought. Fighters for freedom must arm; otherwise they would be crushed overnight… “The underground fighters of the Irgun arose to overthrow and replace a regime. We used physical force because we were faced by physical force. “We had to hate — as any nation worthy of the name must and always must hate — the rule of the foreigner, rule, unjust and unjustifiable, per se, foreign rule….Such hatred has been the driving force of progress in the world’s history.“

What is the difference between this Rightist philosophy and that of today’s stabbers?

And so as David Hirst put it about Begin’s Rightist Irgun in The Gun and the Olive Branch:

  • “Operation Malonchik [the blowing up of the King David Hotel] was the [Revisionist] Zionists’ greatest coup. But they also blew up bridges, mined roads, derailed trains and sunk patrol boats …
  • “They blew up the British embassy in Rome.
  • “They dispatched letter-bombs to British ministers, and one addressed to Major Farran killed his brother by mistake.
  • “They sent an assassination quad into Britain, with the mission — which was not accomplished — of executing the former commanding officer in Palestine, General Evelyn Barker;
  • “its members included [Israel’s later first President] Weizmann’s own nephew, Ezer Weizmann, one of the architects of the Israeli air force.
  • “They planned to sink a British passenger ship in Shanghai and a destroyer in Portsmouth.
  • “In Palestine they killed soldiers in their sleep.
  • “They captured and flogged officers; then they hanged two sergeants from a tree and booby-trapped their dangling corpses.” (pp. 120-122)

Here is Israel’s great and legendary Foreign Minister, Abba Eban:

“[T]he Zionist revisionist movement, out of which Menachem Begin’s  would later emerge gave war a larger place, created a mystique of heroism, and during the 1930s and 1940s attached great weight to martial songs, uniforms, parades, and unofficial armies. In the movements of resistance that preceded the independence of Israel, the small revisionist groups were less fastidious than the larger official Zionist forces in their manner of combat.”

They did not shrink from personal assassinations and attacks on predominantly civilian Arab targets.”

–“The Beirut Massacre: The Complete Kahan Commission Report, with an introduction by Abba Eban,” Princeton and New York: Karz-Cohl, 1983, p. viii.

The Associated Press reported in its Headline on Sept. 4, 1991, that Rightist Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir said:

“Prime Minister Says Terrorism Is Sometimes Justified.”

“Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, recalling his days as a guerrilla commander, said Wednesday that Jews were justified in using terrorism to win statehood, but that Palestinians aren’t.  Personal terrorism is a way of fighting that is acceptable under certain conditions and by certain movements,” said Shamir.”

“Lehi, also known as the Stern Gang after its founder, assassinated Lord Moyne, the British minister-resident in Cairo, in 1944. It also was blamed for the 1948 murder of U.N. mediator Count Folke Bernadotte of Sweden, although his killers were never caught.”

And what is the difference between “good” terrorism and “bad”?

“Asked to compare Lehi with Palestinian guerrilla groups fighting for independence, Shamir said:

“Their objective is not just. They are fighting for land that is not theirs. This is the land of the people of Israel.”

An appalling distinction: The newcomers from Europe could use terrorism because it was the “land of the people of Israel.” And so their self-described “terrorism” was all right.

The people who had lived there for many continuous centuries could not, because, allegedly, “they are fighting for a land that is not theirs.”


And again this is about the Rightist frequent penchant for violence.

And even at the very highest echelons of the Right.

And this sophistry is about something as absolutely crucial as the  very ethicality or unethicality of terrorism itself. And he says his was okay. 

Needless to say, the United States — the Bill Clinton Administration — strongly disagreed.

The next day, Sept. 5, 1991, as the Associated Press headline put it:

“Administration Says Terrorism Never Justifiable”:

“The State Department, disagreeing with Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, said Thursday that terrorism is never justified.”

“Recalling his days as a guerrilla commander, Shamir said Wednesday that Jews were justified in using terrorism to win statehood.”

“…referring to Shamir’s remarks,” the United States said:

““Our view on the subject remains clear and consistent. No matter what the justification or objective, we condemn terrorism.”

And all this began with the Rightist Irgun and Lehi, with future Israeli Prime Ministers Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Shamir, based on Begin’s The Revolt and his “hatred” as “the driving force” of “world history.”

It continues, of course.

In 1994 at the Cave of the Patriarchs massacre, Baruch Goldstein mass-murdered around 30 Muslim  worshipers in their Mosque.

And just 1 year after that– Rightist Settler’s Yigal Amir’s infamous assassination of Israel’s Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.

And all the Rightist incitement, including that of Benyamin Netanyahu, that led up to it.

For example, as Israel Prize-winning liberal historian Zeev Sternhell writes:

“On 5 Oct. 1995, exactly one month before the night of the murder, a large demonstration of all factions of the Right was held in Jerusalem. On a balcony overlooking Zion Square in the heart of Jerusalem, the whole opposition leadership was gathered around Benjamin Netanyahu, from the former prime minister, Yitzhak Shamir to members of the government set up in June 1998.

“Facing the leaders of the opposition — today’s government — placards denouncing the “traitor’ Rabin dressed in the uniform of an SS officer was raised high above the heads of the demonstrators. Not a word of protest was heard from the speakers’ platform, and the man [Benyamin Netanyahu] who is prime minister at the end of 1997 never batted an eyelid.”

As neither did former Prime  Minister Yitzhak Shamir, also in attendance.

–From “The Founding Myths of Israel,” Princeton University Press, 1998, p. 344

One month from that day, 20 years ago this Nov. 5th, Rabin was assassinated by yet another far Rightist.

In 2005, pulsa denura curses were enacted against Sharon, and the Sharon cabinet feared both for his life and a national civil war.

It’s plausible to many that, although he was overweight (and George Bush would joke with him to shed pounds), that his two strokes, the second one fatal, was partly due to all the intense stress from the Extreme Right.

In an April 21, 2005 interview Ariel Sharon gave to The Jerusalem Post’s editor-in-chief [ — now our own Times of Israel editor-in-chief — ] David Horovitz and the paper’s chief diplomatic correspondent Herb Keinon,” they asked Sharon:

“While you were in the US last week, you raised the concern of civil war over disengagement. Are you really fearful that such a scenario might develop?” and his answer:

“Prime Minister Sharon: I spoke of the existing atmosphere, reminiscent of the atmosphere of an approaching civil war.”

The same stress and incitement that afflicted Prime Minister Rabin in the run-up to his assassination.

On January 4, 2006, Sharon suffered his devastating stroke.

Two days later, on January 6, a Jerusalem Post headline reports:

“Extremists boast they cursed Sharon : Claim that pulsa denura, aka “lashes of fire,” deteriorated PM’s health.

“Far-right activists took credit Thursday for the severe deterioration in Ariel Sharon’s health, claiming that a pulsa denura … death curse they instigated against the prime minister in July was the real catalyst behind his current state of health.

“I take full responsibility for what happened,” far-right activist Baruch Ben-Yosef. “Our pulsa denura kicked in. … Upon hearing the news of Sharon’s stroke, Ben-Yosef said, the group broke out in song and dance and celebrated the prime minister’s fall throughout the night.”

This is the Far Right.

What is the difference between this and the Introduction to Menachem Begin’s The Revolt, and the activities of the Irgun?

What is the difference between it and Israeli Prime Minister Shamir’s defense of what he called Lehi’s “terrorism,” and his flimsy defense –

that it was Jewish land and not the Palestinians’?-

And then again the United States had to rebuke the Rightist Israeli government’s defense of its own — self-described — “terrorism.”

Then in 2008 a right-wing extremist tried to assassinate with a car bomb, in his driveway at home, the liberal Israel-Prize-winning historian Ze’ev Sternhell.

(The same historian who recounts thr episode of incitement with the effigy of Rabin in an SS uniform, in front of the silent  future Rightist Prime Minister, and heir to Begin and Shamir, Benyamin Netanyahu.)

And then all  the Settler Price-Tag attacks in the Occupied Territories.

Last year the burning alive of the Palestinian teen Mohammed Abu Khdeir.

And then burning to death an entire Palestinian family, the Dawabshe’s– first, toddler, then mother, and then finally father, through arson, leaving only one survivor, Ahmad, aged 4, with second degree burns.

Only from the Jewish Right.

Never the Jewish Left.

Few people are more disliked among many than Prime Minister Netanyahu, but as if he feared a liberal or left-wing Jew would kill him.

It’s too absurd even to contemplate.

He might fear an even further right-wing Jewish extremist than himself, or perhaps a Palestinian extremist.

But he would never fear violence from a liberal or left-wing Jew.

It would be incomprehensible and the last thing Netanyahu would ever fear.

The pattern is clear.

This also comes out, I think, in language which among Jews is much more crude and extremist on the right than the left — words like Kapo, Chamberlain, Appeasement, Munich, traitor, and coarse profanity.

And just as Clausewitz said that war is diplomacy by other means,  Rightist violence is — its inciteful and profanity-laced talkbacks and on Facebook, and its columnists’ incendiary rhetoric — by other means.

And now, just this last Friday, October 23, a Rightist Settler attacks with a knife the head of Rabbis for Human Rights, Arik Ascherman.

From the Irgun to Rabin’s murder to the attempt to murder Ascherman-

-when Jews  hate–and perpetrate violence– it is always from the Right.


About the Author
James Adler was born in Kentucky, now works in university libraries, and feels especially and intensely bound up with the fate of the Jewish people in the last hundred years, especially the Shoah, the rise of Israel "out of the ashes," and the accidental and mutually tragic collision with the Palestinians in the early and middle of the 20th century, continuing through today. He is happily married and the father of two teenagers.
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