Former Rabin aide says Israel has gone mad after calls to release his assassin received with applause

Shimon Sheves, former director general of late Prime Minister's office, shocked at audience's cheers after TV show panelist advocates for Yigal Amir's release
Attila Somfalvi, Nir Cohen|
Shimon Sheves, who served as director general of the Prime Minister's office under then prime minister Yitzhak Rabin on Monday, expressed his shock at comments made during a live broadcast on Channel 14, a right-wing outlet, calling for his assassin to be released from prison.
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"This country has been mad for a long time," Sheves told Ynet in an interview. "The problem is that the studio audience applauded this call while the host of the show said nothing.
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שמעון שבס ביחד עם יצחק רבין
שמעון שבס ביחד עם יצחק רבין
Shimon Sheves behind late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin
(Photo: David Rubinger)
"This is a group of people who, in my view, crossed all possible red lines," Sheves said. He was particularly disturbed by the reaction of the host, a fervent supporter of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose father had served with Sheves when they were both at the Defense Ministry with Rabin. "He must be turning in his grave to see how his son behaved," he said. "I cannot understand this."
The program in question hosted Yigal Amir's former attorney and a regular guest on the channel, Ari Shamai who said it was time to release Amir, Israel's first and thus far only political assassin, a call that was greeted with cheers from the studio audience.
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שמעון שבס
שמעון שבס
Shimon Sheves
(Photo: Avi Cohen)
In a statement, the channel said Shamai was expressing his own views but he would no longer be invited to participate in their broadcasts.
Rabin was assassinated by a far-right extremist who opposed Israel's signing of the Oslo Accords which began a peace process with the Palestinians. Protests broke out led by politicians on the right, including Netanyahu, who famously attended a Jerusalem rally where Rabin was depicted in posters, wearing a Nazi uniform. Netanyahu was accused by many supporters of the government at the time, of incitement to violence before and after the murder and religious leaders of the settler movement were also accused of contributing to the violent opposition to the accords.
How did we come to this? "Unfortunately, the younger generations do not remember or understand but even back then, the incitement wasn't just idle talk. Tens of thousands celebrated the assassination of Rabin. We have to understand and acknowledge that fact and resist such a reality. Today in Israel, there is a large sector of the public, numbering hundreds of thousands, who, in my view, do not belong to the mainstream of secular, liberal, and traditional Zionism as it existed at the time. I had served with people who were raised in religious Zionism, throughout my military service. They were always my brothers. Today, these people are no longer my brothers. If we had had back then, 28 years ago, the excellent people leading the protest movement today, and the hundreds of thousands who go out on the streets every week, to prevent the actions and incitement of politicians, religious leaders, and messianic activists - perhaps we would have also prevented the assassination."
Do you see a situation where by Rabin's assassin would be freed?
"I don't want to believe it would be possible, but anything is possible here - look at these crazy laws. I'm not a child. I've been through a lot and have never seen such madness as in the past six months."
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