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Carmi Gillon: Situation is getting worse
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Still alive - Yigal Amir
Photo: Gil Yohanan
'They should have killed Amir’
Former Shin Bet chief: Rabin’s killer should have been shot to death ‘like a dog’
Ten years have passed since those three shots at Tel Aviv's Kings of Israel Square, the ones that put an end to the life of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, shocked Israeli society and derailed the peace process.

 

Next weekend, memorial events will begin, but Carmi Gillon, then-head of the Shin Bet, won't be at any of them.

 

No, not in protest. It's just too hard. Since then, Gillon has said little about the murder. He published a book in which he discussed the causes for the murder and its consequences, but has stubbornly refused to be interviewed about the matter.

 

But a Yedioth Ahronoth survey published last Friday showing 20 percent of Israelis would be willing to pardon Yigal Amir sometime in the future and 45 percent believe Amir should be allowed to get married and become a father, shocked him – even if it didn't surprise him - out of his silence.

 

"If this survey had been conducted by (right-wing news outlet) Channel 7, " he says, "the results would have been even more extreme, because Yedioth significantly mellowed the results by not breaking them down into right- and left-wing components.

 

"If the poll had been limited to right-wing respondents, 90 percent would have been willing to pardon Amir," he says.

 

So Yigal Amir can continue to smirk?

Absolutely. He smirks because he knows he won.

 

Is another political murder just a matter of time?

We always tend to look at the blueprints of others and link them to ourselves. It was also like that with the United States. One political murder leads to another.

 

The estimate that the next political murder is already here is correct. We've seen the first one, which proved to be a success. Today, they are focusing their hatred on a different person - Prime Minister Sharon.

 

Are you concerned for Sharon's life?

When I see their struggle does not focus on the Knesset, Knesset members and on specific legislation, but rather on one individual, it's worrying. The concern grows when it is accompanied by rulings of Jewish law and rabbinic statements that give it legitimacy.

 

That's the way it was, too, with Yigal Amir, who admitted that halachic (Jewish law) rulings gave him strength. It could be the same with Sharon.

 

Gillon was abroad at the time of the murder. He hurried home and resigned before he had a chance to be fired. Two years ago he was elected to head the Mevasseret Zion city council. Before that, he managed to serves as Israel's ambassador to Finland and director general of the Peres Center for Peace.

 

Ten years after the murder, his anger at himself has not abated for what he calls the fatal mistake made that terrible night – that his men didn't shoot Amir in the head immediately.

 

"Yigal Amir is alive today due to a mishap," he says. "He should have died that night after firing the first shot, definitely after the second.

 

"I'm sorry to say the security guards did not act in accordance with the lessons we taught them. They failed, because they didn't shoot him like a dog, like any despicable terrorist. From a security point of view, it was a failure."

 

What would it have changed?

If they would have killed him on the spot, he wouldn't have become a symbol for the radical right. By becoming a symbol, he pours fuel on the fire, giving energy for the next political murder.

 

In addition, our powers of deterrence would have been far greater, and today there would be no public debate about whether to allow him to get married or not.

 

You think he should not be pardoned?

My opinion adds nothing and detracts nothing. It all depends on the political echelon. It’s not crazy to think the Knesset could round up a majority to pardon him. I hope we never get to that."

 

Gillon has stinging criticism for Israel's judicial branch, which he says is too hesitant to act against the rabbis and incitement. He said the seed was planted during Amir's trial, and by the Shamgar Commission that investigated the Shin Bet's actions, but refrained from addressing incitement or rabbinic responsibility.

 

"They did nothing to deal with inciters then, and they do nothing now," he says. "After Rabin was murdered, they dealt with all the political, social and legal issues as one big glob. Apart from empty tears and declarations that 'we're all brothers now,' there was nothing."

 

What about regret?

They didn't try to make room for regret. A battered majority thought that if we embraced the radical Right, which was essentially a full partner in the incitement that led to the murder, then we could once again become one nation and recover from the trauma.

 

And this didn't happen?

In actuality, what happened was that the tactical and technical lessons, which were under the jurisdiction of the Shin Bet, were learned. In addition, we moved to a level of security that only exists in totalitarian countries. But we did nothing about incitement. The legal establishment has not changed its treatment of incitement."

 

How do you explain this?

After the murder it wasn't nice to talk about it. It wasn't nice to quote right wingers, including Sharon and Netanyahu, so they passed over it. Today, all of a sudden, it kicks us in the face once again when there is incitement against Sharon from the same political camp and the same rabbis.

 

Has Israeli society changed since then?

The change is only for the worse. All the time the polarization between right and left gains strength, mainly against the backdrop of political developments.

 

You mean the disengagement from Gaza?

There is no doubt that the disengagement, and what happened before it, has exacerbated the situation, mainly with regard to incitement against the prime minister. As long as political issues get sharper and withdrawal from territory becomes fact, the split between the moderate majority and the rather large extreme minority will continue to grow and sharpen.

 

Was Yigal Amir a bad weed?

What happened in the illegal outposts last week shows that he was no bad weed, or part of some psychopathic group. It is an overall worldview. It may be comfortable for the Left to believe they are bad weeds, but this group includes hundreds of thousands of people. Not all of them are murderers, but they all think Rabin's murder paid off because it derailed the Oslo process. They believe now that Sharon will disappear, and that the process in Judea and Samaria will also disappear.

 

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