That was because he, like many others in the security apparatus, was myopic about how a would-be assassin would look, and where he would come from. Those who understood the changing political fabric of the country knew this was no longer the case, that an equally large if not larger threat now emanated from the West Bank settlements. Indeed, the Shabak had begun watching the settler fringe, particularly in the Hebron area, where extremists lionized Baruch Goldstein, who had slaughtered 29 Palestinians at worship in February He lived in Herzliya, a city north of Tel Aviv, not a settlement.
Thanks to the rhetoric of politicians and the rulings of rabbis, Amir had come to believe that Rabin could be placed in an arcane category of Jewish religious law that justified extrajudicial killings. Amir deemed Rabin to be a rodef someone who is chasing someone else with intent to kill and a moser someone who hands over his Jewish brethren to be killed by others.
In a crisp and lively narrative, Ephron walks the reader through the assassination itself and its aftermath. Israel staggered and, convulsed with blame, proceeded to ask hard questions. Had the frenzied protests and the increasing incitement against Rabin — including posters with a mock-up of him in a Nazi uniform — made talk of murder palatable?
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Members of the mainstream right-wing Likud Party had joined in many of these antigovernment protests. When presented in Parliament, his peace deals would lack a Jewish majority, and therefore, legitimacy.
Netanyahu limped along in the polls. The author also captures the way politics in this young and tiny country are uniquely and deeply personal. Mr Amir once attended the same wedding as Rabin. For we have all risen from the nightmare to a different world.
Amos Gitai, an acclaimed Israeli film-maker, is less subtle. The film dramatises several scenes in which religious extremists interpret Jewish law as sanctioning the murder of Rabin. Join them. Subscribe to The Economist today. Media Audio edition Economist Films Podcasts.
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